[Congressional Record Volume 147, Number 17 (Wednesday, February 7, 2001)]
[House]
[Pages H208-H209]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]




                     GUAM JUDICIAL EMPOWERMENT ACT

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the 
gentleman from Guam (Mr. Underwood) is recognized for 5 minutes.
  Mr. UNDERWOOD. Mr. Speaker, today I am reintroducing the Guam 
Judicial Empowerment Act, a bill which seeks to mend the Organic Act of 
Guam for the purposes of clarifying the local judicial structure.
  This legislation will correct the defect in the Guam Organic Act 
relative to the judicial branch of the government of Guam and seeks to 
correct a longstanding judicial anomaly.
  It would establish the local court system, including the Supreme 
Court of Guam, as a coequal branch of the government of Guam within the 
framework of the Guam Organic Act and place the judiciary on equal 
footing with Guam's legislative and executive branches of government.
  Currently, the Organic Act of Guam, which functions as a de facto 
constitution for Guam, clearly delineates the inherent powers of the 
legislative and executive branches of the Government of Guam, but it 
does not do so for the judicial branches.
  This legislation seeks to bring the courts in Guam to a level that is 
comparable and similar to other states and territories and seeks to 
establish a framework that is equal to the powers of the other 
branches.

[[Page H209]]

  Mr. Speaker, this legislation completes the process of establishing a 
clearly Republican form of government in Guam, one in which the three 
branches of government are coequal.
  The Organic Act of 1950 created the original Government of Guam. At 
that time, it had a legislature which was elected by the people, but it 
did not have an independent judiciary, it was nexused into the Federal 
judiciary and it had an appointed governor.

                              {time}  1115

  Since that time, there has been a number of incremental improvements 
in this relationship, an elected governor in 1968, an elected 
representative in Congress in 1972, and Congress allowed for the 
establishment of a Guam Supreme Court in the 1980s; but that Guam 
Supreme Court and that judicial branch subjected it to the local 
legislation. At first, it looked like a good blow for local government; 
but it meant that the judicial branch in Guam was not organized based 
on a constitution, as in Guam's case the Organic Act, but based on 
local legislation.
  Well, the possibilities for mischief were enormous as the judicial 
branch remained at the behest and the wiles of a local legislature and 
the executive branch. This anomalous, atypical system must be 
rectified; and my legislation seeks exactly to do that.
  The architects of the U.S. Constitution had the foresight to 
establish an institutional mechanism that would protect this great 
Nation from an autocratic regime, and that is that it establishes three 
coequal branches of government. This doctrine of separation of powers 
is the fundamental principle of this great Nation and has since laid 
the foundation for the democratic system of government that has been 
established in subsequent States and territories.
  The passage of this legislation would solidify the structure of 
Guam's judiciary and ensure a status as a separate and equal branch of 
government. I certainly hope that Members of this body will support 
this legislation.

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