Hagåtña, Guam – On May 13, 2024, Attorney General Douglas B. Moylan’s legal opinion regarding a political status plebiscite was transmitted to Governor Leon Guerrero, Speaker Therese M. Terlaje, and all senators of the 37th Guam Legislature. This letter is a response to a formal request by Governor Leon Guerrero transmitted on February 19, 2024. In her request, Governor Leon Guerrero asked the Office of the Attorney General to answer two questions: The first asked the Attorney General if the legislature can redefine “Native Inhabitants of Guam” in 1 GCA §2110 to comply with the constitutional requirements outlined in the Ninth Circuit’s Davis opinion. The second asked if the “Native Inhabitants of Guam” definition cannot be redefined, if a Non-governmental organization (NGO) that receives no government money is able to conduct its own election using the current definition.

Attorney General Moylan’s legal opinion reconfirmed that “Native Inhabitants of Guam” cannot be redefined in a manner consistent with the requirements of the United States Constitution.  It has also affirmed that the restrictions of Davis v. Guam would not apply to an NGO using its own funds as long as the private entity is not a surrogate for a public entity.

The Leon Guerrero-Tenorio Administration remains committed to the right of the Native Inhabitants to be able to vote on the issue of Self-determination for Guam. 

When asked about the legal opinion, Acting Governor Tenorio stated, “While we continue to lament the decision of the courts in Davis v. Guam, we must look ahead and continue to search for the best course of action to achieve a political status plebiscite.” He added, “No matter your political status preference, we should stand together in solidarity with the human right of Self-determination, which continues to be denied to the Native Inhabitants of Guam. Pursuing a full measure of Self-governance through Statehood, Independence, or Free Association will help to ensure a brighter future for ourselves and the generations to come.”

Since their first term, the Leon Guerrero-Tenorio Administration has been a staunch advocate and supporter of the decolonization movement. They continue to reaffirm their support of the Commission on  Decolonization and its expanding efforts to educate the people of Guam. The Commission’s persistent efforts at the United Nations on behalf and with the support of the Administration have helped to elevate Guam’s engagement with entities such as the U.S. State Department and permanent missions to the United Nations. Despite our inherent lack of sovereignty as an unincorporated Territory, these efforts highlight our desire to advance Guam’s political status. 

Yet, as noted in Attorney General Moylan’s legal opinion, seeking a solution to hold a political status plebiscite requires “all our executive, legislative and judicial branch government leaders joining together.” The Administration embraces a whole-government approach to achieving a political status plebiscite. 

Rather than bemoaning about “wasted decades,” we should look at all the historical accomplishments achieved by our sainas and reflect on how our community can build upon their work to finally break the colonial chains and pursue a better future for our island.

For those interested in learning more about Guam’s historical quest for decolonization, the three political status options, and the Commission on Decolonization’s current work, visit decol.guam.gov. You may also contact the Commission on Decolonization via email at guamcod@guam.gov or call (671)-475-9545.


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