22 May 2014

Non-indigenous CNMI voters can now vote on land issues

6:41 am on 22 May 2014

In a landmark decision, the United States District Court has issued a ruling that qualified voters in the Northern Marianas, who are not native to the islands, must have the opportunity to vote on any land alienation initiative.

The decision also affects any initiative to amend Article 12 of the CNMI Constitution.

Article 12 restricts the acquisition of permanent and long-term interests in real property in the CNMI to persons of Northern Marianas descent.

The US District Court for the Northern Marianas Chief Judge, Ramona Manglona, says under federal law the racial classification can't serve as the basis for excluding voters who are otherwise qualified.

The judge issued the ruling in favor of John Davis, a registered voter in the CNMI who filed a lawsuit against the Commonwealth Election Commission.