The federal court has dismissed a local businessman's lawsuit to stop the implementation of the federalization law in the CNMI, saying it lacks jurisdiction on the matter.
In an order issued Friday, U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona dismissed Joaquin Q. Atalig's lawsuit because he lacks standing.
“Atalig lacks standing because his complaint is a generalized grievance insufficient to show an injury in fact,” said Manglona in her eight-page decision and order.
The judge said that Atalig fails to allege any injury peculiar to himself.
Atalig, though counsel Joseph E. Horey, filed the lawsuit against President Obama, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, State Secretary Hillary Clinton, U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.
Atalig wants the court to declare the Consolidated Natural Resources Act (federalization law) to be lawfully unenforceable and that its implementation and enforcement is valid and lawful only with the consent of the people of the CNMI.
The U.S. Department of Justice, as counsel for the defendants, moved to dismiss the case. DOJ's senior litigation counsel Theodore W. Atkinson argued that Atalig cannot relitigate claims that the CNMI government had already litigated and lost more than two years ago.
The CNMI government brought the first lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in 2008. The district court subsequently dismissed the CNMI's challenge to the CNRA.
The parties in the Atalig lawsuit argued the motion to dismiss on May 10, 2012.
In her Friday ruling, Manglona granted the DOJ's motion to dismiss, but on the alternative grounds of lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
Manglona said that Atalig describes himself as the proprietor of a hotel and rental units but he does not say how, if at all, the CNRA harms him as a property owner or businessperson.
Manglona said that Atalig's central complaint is that the implementation and enforcement of the CNRA in the CNMI inherently violates the Covenant's guarantee of self-government to the people of the NMI, including himself.
The judge said that Atalig's alternative claims-that any provision of the Covenant that would allow infringement of people's right to self-government must violate the Constitution, and that the United States has an independent obligation under the Trusteeship Agreement to secure self-government for the people of the Northern Marianas-are equally general.
“These are abstract injuries of the kind that federal courts have no jurisdiction to redress,” Manglona pointed out.