The Trump administration is arguing in federal court that, if one U.S. territory doesn’t have the same rights as the others, then all of them should be stripped of those rights, according to a group pursuing lawsuits in federal court related to territorial rights.
According to Neil Weare, a former Guam resident, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago on Friday will consider an equal protection challenge by plaintiffs in Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Weare is president and founder of We the People Project, a non-profit that advocates for equal rights and representation in U.S. territories.
According to Weare, the plaintiffs would be able to cast absentee ballots for president and voting representation in Congress if they lived in other U.S. territories or a foreign country, but are denied those rights based solely on their ZIP code.
The plaintiffs in “Segovia v. United States” are appealing a district court decision that relied on the Insular Cases to hold for the first time that the right to vote is not a “fundamental right” in U.S. territories, the release states.
The Insular Cases are U.S. Supreme Court decisions, more than 100 years ago, that state constitutional rights do not necessarily apply to places under U.S. control.
On Monday, the Department of Justice filed a letter with the court, arguing that if an equal protection violation is found, the remedy should be to strip away statutorily provided absentee voting rights that are already provided to residents of some territories.