Send a Tweet
Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook 3 Share on Twitter Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
General News   

Constitutional convention in U.S. Virgin Islands to convene in October in fifth attempt to approve a constitution

By       (Page 1 of 1 pages)     (# of views)   No comments
Author 3874
Message Michael Richardson
Become a Fan
  (2 fans)

U.S. Virgin Islands Superior Court Judge James Carroll III cleared the way for the opening of a Constitutional Convention following resolution of a delegate election challenge that delayed the July start of the convention.  The fifth attempt to adopt a constitution for the territory was scheduled to convene in July but had been delayed by Judge Carroll in order to resolve the seating of delegate Harry Daniels.  A confusing legislative directive specifying the apportionment of seats between St. Thomas and St. John gave rise to litigation by Daniels in July.  Judge Carroll, in granting mandamus relief to Daniels, ruled, "the delegates who participate in the Fifth Constitutional Convention may well be known to future generations as the "founding Fathers" of the Virgin Islands." 

Four prior attempts, the first in 1965, have failed to secure a constitution for America's resort colony.  In 1965, the convention delegates sent to Congress for approval a draft constitution that called for voting rights in Presidential elections and membership in the House of Representatives.  Congress took no action on the matter and following conventions in 1972, 1978, and 1980 failed to gain sufficient public support to go forward.

 

The current convention delegates are expected to again sidestep the controversial central issue, the lack of voting rights in federal elections, because of a hostile climate in Congress.  To avoid repeating prior outcomes, several educational efforts are in planning or underway to educate the residents of the Virgin Islands on the importance of a constitution.   The recent failure in the U.S. Senate by residents of the District of Columbia to advance a bill granting representation in the U.S. House of Representatives suggests that citizens residing in Virgin Islands would also meet with resistance against a constitution that granted similar voting rights.

 

October 10th is the new scheduled opening date for the Constitutional Convention and the thirty delegates will have until next year to complete their work.  The failed draft document of the Fourth Constitutional Convention in 1980 will be a starting point for the new effort.

 

Earlier this year, the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals upheld the "enduring vitality" of the infamous Insular Cases and denied a voting rights appeal for U.S. citizens residing in the Virgin Islands.  The Insular Cases were Supreme Court decisions in the early 20th Century that limited provisions of the U.S. Constitution from applying to the island colony of Puerto Rico and have since been relied upon to suppress voting rights in U.S. territories.

 

The U.S. Virgin Islands were purchased from Denmark during World War I for $25 million and are under the exclusive control of Congress.  Presently, Congress permits the island residents to send a non-voting "delegate" to Washington but denies citizens residing in the Virgin Islands effective representation.

 

The U.S. Virgin Islands are one of 17 "Non Self Governing Territories" subject to Article 73 of the United Nations Charter.  Article 73 binds the United States "to take due account the political aspirations of the peoples, and to assist them in the progressive development of their free political institutions."

 

In 2001, at the request of the U.S. District Court in the Virgin Islands, the prestigious Schell Center of Yale University provided an amicus brief addressing the voting rights issue.

 

"Someday our nation will look back on its treatment of the Virgin Islands and other non-governing territories with the shame with which we now look at slavery and segregation.  When the United States purchased the Virgin Islands, colonialism was expected of world powers, racist ideology was accepted as scientific truth, and racial apartheid was common."

 

"The present governmental structure of the Virgin Islands was established by the U.S. Congress without the consent or meaningful participation of the residents of the Virgin Islands.  At no point have the people of the Virgin Islands been able to independently and effectively to exercise their right of self-determination."

 

 11th in a series on 21st Century American Colonies that explore the acquisition, control, and status of modern-day colonies of the United States.  Although the colonies are now called "unincorporated territories",  the second-class nature of U.S. citizenship of residents of the territories continues to define the colonial status.  Permission granted to reprint.

 

Rate It | View Ratings

Michael Richardson Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Michael Richardson is a freelance writer living in Belize. Richardson writes about Taiwan foreign policy, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Black Panther Party. Richardson was Ralph Nader's ballot access manager during the 2004 and (more...)
 

Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Writers Guidelines
Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

STAY IN THE KNOW
If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEdNews Newsletter
Name
Email
   (Opens new browser window)
 

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

J. Edgar Hoover personally ordered FBI to initiate COINTELPRO dirty tricks against Black Panthers in 'Omaha Two' case

Angela Davis Demands 'Omaha Two' Be Freed

FBI agents that spied on Martin Luther King also ran COINTELPRO operation against 'Omaha Two'

Did RFK's search for JFK's killers lead to his own murder?

FBI used United Airlines in planned COINTELPRO action against Black Panthers in 'Omaha Two' case

Roger and Julian Lin are at center of Taiwan Civil Government fraud allegations