Thursday, May 05, 2005

The Presidential Vote for Puerto Rico

Boston - El abogado puertorriqueño Gregorio Igartúa pidió ayer al Tribunal Federal de Apelaciones de Boston que otorgue a los boricuas residentes en la Isla el derecho a votar en las elecciones presidenciales de Estado Unidos.

Igartúa señaló que dejar a los ciudadanos de la Isla sin derecho a voto viola varios tratados internacionales y condena a los puertorriqueños a “un estado de servitud”.

. . . Igartúa presentó una primera demanda en 1994 en el Tribunal de EE.UU. en Puerto Rico, que fue denegada, así como el año 2000 en el Primer Circuito de Apelaciones de Boston.

El año pasado, Igartúa volvió a presentar otro recurso que también fue rechazado.


This guy Igartua just doesn't seem to get it. How many times must his petition be rejected to realize that Puerto Ricans won't get the vote under the current status or through the courts. I too feel that it is unfair that Puerto Ricans are obligated to serve in the military and pay taxes but arent allowed to vote or have representation. But the courts are not the way to go.

Igartua's approach is wrong. You can't sue for the vote. And you can't ask the courts to exert a power that they don't have - namely by giving Puerto Ricans the vote, they would be legislating, a clear violation of the doctrine of separation of powers.

There are only two ways that Puerto Rico can get the vote - through a Constitutional amendment or if Puerto Rico becomes a state. The latter may not happen, but the former probably could. I believe that those who support the vote need to organize themselves and massively lobby for it in Congress. At least they can work hard to get the vote for the thousands of military veterans residing on the island and those currently serving. But the courts can't legislate, they can only interpret laws. And the laws say that voting is a state right, and thus Puerto Ricans residing in (the colony of) Puerto Rico can't vote.

That's the sad truth.


sebalgare said...

It is true that courts should not legislate, but they unavoidably do. Court decisions through "opinions", even when grounded on precedent (all precedent means is that someone in the past pun in force legislation how he saw fit), are instances of legislating. Courts, throughout their history, have overruled precedents many times. Lets just think about the Dred Scott Case, Brown v. Board of Education, the Korematsu case, Roe v. Wade, among many others.

All of them have made significant constitutional decisions way before Congress stepped up to the challenge. The caveat of the matter is that they must reach the Supreme Court, something that they have chosed to ignore for the past 104 years. This, however, does not mean that it could never change.
So do not underestimate, the power of the Judicial Branch.

Why do you think, its such a big deal in government when the President is about to name judges all over the country? Why do you think Bush wants to nominate arch-conservatives?

Don't forget your history, when Marshall usurped the judicial power to review law, what he was doing in reality was appropriating the ability to interpret law. Not a small ability to have in your pockets.

If suddenly the First District Court of Appeals in Boston decided that it wanted to grant certiorari and decide against precedent. You can be sure the Supreme Court would turn its shoulders. And the Puerto Rican dilemma would take center stage in U.S. policy making.

I know it seems far-fetched, but it has never hurt to try.

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That Guy said...

Doesn't the lack of a vote in US territories make the citizenship of those residing there second rate?

What happened with the equality stated in the Declaration of Independence?

Don't inalienable rights within a democratic republic include voting?