Tuesday, March 10, 2015

John Oliver on "The Insular Cases" and the Unequal Voting Rights of U.S. Territorial Residents

Political satirist and comedian, John Oliver, in a recent show drew attention to the fact that U.S. citizens residing in Puerto Rico, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and the Virgin Islands and U.S. nationals in American Samoa do not have equal voting rights.  In particular, these U.S. territorial residents do not have the right to vote for the President.  They also do not have meaningful representation in Congress.  Although they have a voting delegate, the delegate does not have voting rights in the House. (And, as a I blogged previously, people in the territories, such as Justice Sotomayor's parents, should not be described as immigrants).

What's notable about Oliver's segment was his explanation of why these residents do not have equal voting rights.  Specifically, he explained "The Insular Cases," a series of cases decided at the turn of the twentieth century after the United States acquired the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Guam and Cuba.  Questioning the ongoing reliance on these laws, Oliver reminded viewers that the author of one of these cases, Justice Brown (author of Plessy v. Ferguson) wrote in Downes v. Bidwell that "those possessions are inhabited by alien races, differing from us in religion, customs, laws, methods of taxation, and modes of thought, the administration of government and justice, according to Anglo-Saxon principles" and thus, the Constitution does not fully apply in the territories.

The question of the application of constitutional rights, including the right to vote and the right to acquire U.S. citizenship at birth (an issue that we have previously blogged), are complicated and Oliver's segment recognized that.  Yet, addressing the viability of the Insular Cases should not be too difficult.



| Permalink


You don’t have to go back 100 years to witness bigotry and ignorance. Last month the local paper ran an article about the current White House Puerto Rico Task Force co-chair and his idiotic comments about the island during a meeting with civil rights organization LULAC. He clearly is ignorant of issues related to the territory and shows no remorse for his ignorance.

Read - Puerto Rico Newspaper: El Nuevo Dia, February 26, 2015, Updated2/26/15 - 12:17 AM

Uninformed Chief of affairs on Puerto Rico at White House

Puerto Rico Newspaper: El Nuevo Dia, February 26, 2015, Updated2/26/15 - 12:17 AM
Uninformed Chief of affairs of the island at White House
Representative statesman understands that Jerry Abramson not knows well the Affairs of Puerto Rico
By José a. Delgado

WASHINGTON--since coming to the White House in the middle of November 2014 to direct the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, Jerry Abramson - like his predecessor David Agnew - opted to stay out of the public debate on matters of Puerto Rico, which has since then carried out.
But, Abramson, who was Lieutenant Governor of Kentucky and for more than 20 years Mayor of Louisville-, was opened on 12 February, in a meeting with members of the League of Latin American citizens United (LULAC) which included the party new Progresista (PNP) Jose Enrique "quiquito" Melendez representative and the President of the chapter of LULAC in the island, Abdiel Martínez.
Abramson to be the co-Chair of the White House Working Group on Puerto Rico, Melendez told him about claims of the PNP in favour of a process status that allows admission of Puerto Rico as a State 51.

Abramson replied that the PNP should put aside at this time the proposal for statehood, which anyway does not believe that Congressional Republicans will accept, importantly for the federal Government is "monitoring that the Government of Puerto Rico has a Government running in three months", according to told the legislator.

"He said that the priority should be the economic crisis," said Martinez, yesterday to corroborate the version given by the representative Meléndez.
Melendez has indicated, in addition, that Abramson - who called it "parliamentary", was unable to speak you of a comprehensive plan to deal with the fiscal crisis in Puerto Rico.
"(Abramson) not familiar with the Affairs of Puerto Rico. Nobody knows what you are doing White House. The Mission of this man in the White House apparently is working with the legacy of President Obama", said Tuesday the Meléndez representative, Member of the United States Republicans.

The expressions of the legislator are added to the lack of information about the tasks conducted by a Sub-Committee of the Working Group of the White House created in November 2013 to assist the Government of Puerto Rico in the management of the fiscal crisis.
As to the Meléndez representative, Martinez it seemed also that Abramson has no very clear the Affairs of Puerto Rico.
Although he insisted that statehood is the alternative to solve the economic problems of Puerto Rico, the Resident Commissioner in Washington and President of the PNP, Pedro Pierluisi, said that it is very possible that Abramson even "this familiar" with specific topics of Puerto Rico.
"I don't know what he said. But, I am not surprised that a federal official says that we must be aware what happens from now to the end of the fiscal year in Puerto Rico. The Government of Puerto Rico has a fiscal crisis on its hands, has to take immediate action and obviously has no access to markets, "said Pierluisi.

Posted by: chago | Mar 10, 2015 6:01:15 PM

Post a comment