Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Legislature Approves Gatewood Lawsuit

Senators OK Lawsuit vs Gatewood
Wednesday, 20 May 2009 23:32 by Therese Hart

THE legislative committee on rules on Tuesday voted to adopt Vice Speaker B.J. Cruz’s resolution that endorses a legal action against federal court chief judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood to challenge her March 20 contempt order against the government of Guam.

The adoption of Resolution 114 authorizes the legislature to move forward with filing the action in the Ninth Circuit against Tydingco-Gatewood.

Resolution 114 was adopted by eight affirmative votes, one more than the minimum number of votes required to make it the official position of the 30th Guam Legislature.

The Committee on Rules is the legislative standing committee authorized to act on behalf of the legislature when the body is not in session. This panel, chaired by Sen. Rory Respicio, has jurisdiction over matters relating to the defense or initiation of court action on behalf of the legislature.

The district court used the supremacy clause of the U.S. Constitution to make null and void Section 6 of Public Law 30-1.

Section 6, prohibition on payments without appropriations states that the legislature asserts its authority to appropriate funds and determine the conditions for expending such appropriations.

After the government was held in contempt, it paid out over $5 million in weekly cash payments to federal receiver Gershman, Bricker & Bratton to fund the consent decree projects.

Prior to the vote, Respicio wrote to his colleagues, saying that Cruz has commissioned legal work on the merits of bringing a case against the district court.

The issue centers on the powers of the legislature and “it is our duty and obligation to defend an institution to which we were elected, and tasked with upholding the laws of the Constitution of the United States,” Respicio wrote.

Respicio said Cruz “has expressed his strong belief that we have faithfully done just that, in spite of the Chief Judge’s statement that we “resorted to frivolous modes of self-help, such as enacting patently unconstitutional laws…”

Committee members who voted to adopt Resolution 114 were Cruz, Respicio, Speaker Judi Won Pat, Sens. Judi Gutherz, Tina Muna-Barnes, Frank Aguon Jr., Adolpho Palacios, and Frank Blas Jr.

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