02 January 2010

USVI Governor Forwards Draft Constitution to US

Source:  The Government House Blog
Posted by Jean Greaux on December 31, 2009 at 2:10 PM AST

Governor deJongh sent the following a letter to President Obama regarding the Constitution adopted by the Fifth Constitutional Convention last May and submitted to the Governor for transmittal to the President of the United States.

December 31, 2009

Honorable Barack H. Obama
President of the United States of America
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20500

RE: Proposed Constitution of the Fifth Constitutional Convention of the United States Virgin Islands

Dear Mr. President:

First, I extend Holiday Greetings to you on behalf of the people of the United States Virgin Islands, and best wishes for the New Year.

I write to you today with respect to a matter of importance to the political development of the United States Virgin Islands.

On June 1, 2009, a proposed draft Constitution for the Virgin Islands was forwarded to me by the Fifth Constitutional Convention that had been established by federal law, Public Law 94-584, and local law, Act No. 6688. The most general and generous reading of this draft Constitution showed it to be inconsistent with basic tenets of equal protection and fairness as established by the United States Constitution. As such it was unacceptable to me on both legal and moral grounds.

Further review at that time also suggested that I, as Governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands, had no duty to forward this proposed draft to you in furtherance of the process set forth in Public Law 94-584 if the proposed draft did not "...recognize, and be consistent with, the sovereignty of the United States over the Virgin Islands... and the supremacy of the provisions of the Constitution, treaties, and laws of the United States applicable to the Virgin Islands..., including, but not limited to, those provisions of the Organic Act and Revised Organic Act of the Virgin Islands" as required by subsection (b)(I) of that law. Accordingly, and for those reasons, I announced to the people of the Virgin Islands that r (sic) would not forward it. A copy of the Public Statement I made on June 11, 2009 is enclosed with this letter.

Despite my concerns, certain officials of the Fifth Constitutional Convention filed suit in court to require me to do so. Without reaching the constitutional issues presented in the matter a Virgin Islands judge has now concluded that my "...only duty with respect to the proposed Constitution was to submit it..." to you. Rather than further delay this process with more litigation here in the Territory focused on process and not substance, I am forwarding the document for your review. Ultimately Congress, in the exercise of its Constitutional duty to administer the territories, and in conformity with Public Law 94-584, will decide both the fate of this document and how we in the Virgin Islands are to move ahead towards our goal of increased local governmental autonomy. I stand ready to assist you and the Congress in working towards this goal.

I thank you for your care and attention to this matter which is of considerable importance to the political development of the United States Virgin Islands, just as I thank you for all you are doing to restore the American Dream to all Americans.


John P. deJongh, Jr.