Congressman Raul M. Grijalva testified today before the public hearing on Resolution No. 56-36 (COR) relative to the infamous Insular Cases and the “territorial incorporation doctrine.”
Resolution No. 56-36 (COR) was introduced by Vice Speaker Tina Muna-Barnes and co-sponsored by senators Clynton E. Ridgell, Jose “Pedo” Terlaje, James C. Moylan, Frank Blas Jr., and Marey Camacho Torres.
In his video testimony aired during the public hearing, Grijalva said he, along with Guam Congressman Michael San Nicolas and six other members of Congress introduced a bipartisan resolution, House Resolution 279, rejecting the early 20th century US Supreme Court decisions now known as the Insular Cases as racist, and contrary to the US Constitution.
The Insular Cases are a series of opinions by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1901, about the status of U.S. territories acquired in the Spanish–American War including Guam. The opinions stated that full constitutional protection of rights does not automatically apply to these insular areas.
Grijalva said the Insular Cases belong to a very dark chapter of US history with doctrines of separate and unequal treatment and attitudes about racial inferiority.
He added that this legacy of inequality and neglect continues to be reinforced today, with the exclusion of US citizens living in the territories for voting in national elections and participating in critical federal benefit programs such as Supplemental Security, income, and Medicaid, provide essential resources for individuals and families living in the territories.
“However, as you well know, residents of the territory of Guam are currently barred from assessing the complete benefit from these and other programs typically available to those living in the States, despite residents being otherwise eligible in every other way,” Grijalva said.
In recent years, Grijalva said multiple federal courts have argued that denying US citizens full and equal access to these resources simply because of where they live, is unconstitutional.
“Similarly, the racism at the core of these sort of cases is contrary to the text and the history of the Constitution. That is why this resolution also calls on the court, the US Department of Justice, and other litigants to make an effort at rejecting reliance on the Insular Cases in present and any other future cases,” Grijalva said.
He added: “We cannot erase it if this article passed but as legislators, we have an obligation to make sure its legacy does not extend into the future. The insert replaces established an unequal legal and political relationship between the United States and its territories.
Vice Speaker Barnes, who herself will testify and present Guam’s case during the hearing for House Resolution 279, said she will present a report detailing how the United States violated international law by refusing to grant the people of Guam “our right to manifest our destiny.”
“While I personally am a proud American who favors a closer political relationship with the United States, I also support our people’s right to self-determination, meaning, the right to determine for ourselves what our future political status should be. At the end of the day, this is an issue for the people of Guam to decide,” the vice-speaker said.