Maui Business

UH Law School to Hear Guam Court Case

October 7, 2018, 8:15 AM HST
* Updated October 9, 7:51 AM
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Julian Aguon. Courtesy photo.

A significant legal case from Guam, reminiscent of the issues in Hawai‘i’s contentious Rice v. Cayetano case decided by the U.S. Supreme Court nearly two decades ago, will be argued at the William S. Richardson School of Law at UH Mānoa on Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018.

This argument is part of a program in which judges of the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals hear a morning of oral arguments at the law school when the federal appellate court has its regular sitting in Hawai’i.

The case, Davis v. Guam, will be argued for Guam by lead counsel Julian Aguon, an international human rights attorney. Aguon will be defending Guam’s decolonization process and the right of the native inhabitants to express, by plebiscite, their desired future political relationship with the U.S.

Aguon is a 2009 graduate and adjunct professor at the law school. He heads Blue Ocean Law, a regional law firm handling cases involving both international indigenous rights and environmental law.

The case echoes many of the issues in Rice v. Cayetano, in which the U.S. Supreme Court decided in 2000 that Hawai‘i could not restrict eligibility to vote in elections for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs board to persons of Native Hawaiian ancestry.

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In the Guam case, Arnold Davis sued for the right to register to vote in a future plebiscite, maintaining that Guam’s Decolonization Registry Law unlawfully discriminates by allowing only “native inhabitants of Guam” to be eligible for the vote in the plebiscite.

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On Thursday, October 11, the day after the Ninth Circuit hearing, Aguon will be part of a lunch forum at the law school from 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. to discuss the case. Associate Faculty Specialist Susan Serrano, associate director of Ka Huli Ao Center for Excellence in Native Hawaiian Law, will also participate. The forum is free and open to the public.

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