Attorney General Elizabeth Barret-Anderson will be representing GovGuam and the Chamorro Land Trust Commission in the lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice that alleges that the Chamorro Land Trust violates the Fair Housing Act. Today the A.G. spoke to PNC about the case and the chances Guam has at winning it.
Guam – “Do you think Guam has a good case?” asked PNC. “That’s a hard question to say. A good case, legally a good case. Do we have a sound legal argument? Maybe if I can answer it that way. Yes. I believe we can make a sound legal argument,” said the A.G.
And that legal argument is related to arguments used to preserve Native American lands. “That was part of the argument 26 years ago and 26 years ago that discussion of the Indian tribes and the recognition by congress to preserve Indian tribes by enacting laws that discriminate such as you cannot fish or hunt in tribal lands. Those arguments started to be developed 26 years ago and they are so well developed today and so those are some of the arguments that we will put forth in this concept that the Chamorro people the Chamorro culture needs to be preserved,” said Barret-Anderson.
However, the Attorney General admits it won’t be easy. “It is an uphill battle Clynt, and I understand that but we can’t just stop here.” The Attorney General says she has the experience for the job.
26 years ago, as the appointed Attorney General under Governor Joseph Ada she actually fought against the Chamorro Land Trust saying it was discriminatory and unconstitutional but she lost and Speaker B.J. Cruz who was a judge at the time ruled that the Chamorro Land Trust Act was constitutional and valid. She accepted the decision and then as a Senator in the mid 90’s she actually helped to place lands into the trust in order to get the trust started. Now she is defending the Chamorro Land Trust as Guam’s elected Attorney General. “So, I’ve come full robin and now I’m at position of defense of the act. So, challenge of the act, implementation of the act and now defense of the act,” said Barret-Anderson.
“Clynt, what I’m gonna try to do in this lawsuit is defend this law which has been held valid under Guam law and to make the record in the District Court against the federal government’s arguments and take that record if we are not successful there and take it up to the 9th circuit and make that record in the 9th circuit. And if we are not successful in the 9th circuit and take that record on to the Supreme Court of the United States,” said the A.G.
Guam’s response to the suit is due on the 19th which is Thursday of next week.