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Puerto Rico judge visits Guam

Posted: Jul 06, 2018 3:42 PM Updated:

Days before America celebrated Independence Day, Puerto Rico's Chief Judge visits Guam, leading discussion on U.S. territories and their place in the U.S. Constitution. During his first visit to Guam, Chief Judge Gustavo Gelpi of the District Court of Puerto Rico spoke to attorneys, and law students about the challenges facing U.S. territories.   

"In the territories one of the issues I mentioned, and it's really a political problem not a constitutional problem, is the consent of the governed, because you have individuals here who have no representation in the Congress; can't vote for President but the Congress takes action on a daily basis that affects the U.S. Citizens here," he stated.

He focused on a particular case, Segovia vs. the United States, where a Guam veteran is asserting his right to vote as an American citizen, regardless of whether he lives in the mainland or a territory.

Gelpi says the battle to take this case to the Supreme Court will take time, but it's these battles and people willing to take up the cause that will make waves. "It's not going to change overnight, judges like myself and here in Guam,in the Courts of Appeals the Supreme Court, you need good attorneys who have good cases not always will they prevail, but that's how laws change," he said.

Laws that ultimately affect the people living in the territories. "Social Security, somebody who's worked their entire life for the federal government, decides to retire here or Puerto Rico, gets fewer benefits, Social Security, Medicare, and again those are some of the things that for the everyday person they do affect them," he said.

Gelpi also visited the CNMI to discuss this pressing legal issue in Pacific islands with ties to the United States.

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