AG intends to take Chamorro Land Trust Act to high court - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

AG intends to take Chamorro Land Trust Act to high court

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The Attorney General plans to take the fight to preserve the Chamorro Land Trust Act to the highest court necessary.  Elizabeth Barrett-Anderson has a unique perspective, having been on both sides of the issue. 

As the appointed attorney general more than 25 years ago, she argued against the suit brought by the late senator Angel Santos to force implementation of the Land Trust Act, and when the law was eventually implemented, Barrett-Anderson was a senator who supported enactment. She recalled, "Well, that was my job 26 years ago. My job today as the elected attorney general is to fight for the laws of Guam, and our trial court has upheld this particular act, and I am going to defend the act as far as I possibly can."

The AG says why after more than 20 years, after more than 4,000 Chamorros were given land leases, and another 8,000 are waiting, has the federal government decided to challenge the law now?  The DOJ complains that the trust act discriminates against non-Chamorros under the Fair Housing Act. 

But the AG says that's a civil rights law that doesn't apply to this issue, noting, "And to impose that upon the Chamorro land trust that has nothing to do with the huge history of discrimination in that respect, but to preserve an island culture."

She says it's important to get on the record where the Chamorro people stand with respect to their land rights.  She adds that a legislative remedy could fix it once and for all, stating, "If tomorrow congress woke up and said we understand this is not a civil rights issue as it is the preservation of a culture, then it might resolve this entire lawsuit."

The AG's office will file a response to the DOJ complaint by October 19.

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