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Sunday, April 20, 2014

New effort addresses rights, representation in US territories

Former Guam resident Neil Weare will be on Saipan today, May 17, to launch a new organization, We the People Project, that is dedicated to achieving equal rights and representation for the 4.7 million Americans who live in U.S. territories and the District of Columbia.

Weare’s presentation, titled “Realizing the Dream: Equal Rights and Representation, Wherever You Live” will be held at the Northern Marianas College Student Center today at 4pm. His talk will address the need for a new civil rights movement centered on achieving equal rights for the residents of U.S. territories and D.C. There is no fee to attend the presentation. For more information, contact Queanna Sablan at queannas@nmcnet.edu.

Weare will also give an address today to the CNMI Bar Association at the Kanoa Resort. His talk will focus on Tuaua v. United States, a federal lawsuit examining whether the Citizenship Clause of the Constitution applies in U.S. territories. Tuaua may provide an opportunity for the Supreme Court to reexamine the Insular Cases, a series of Plessy-era decisions that have been criticized as establishing a doctrine of separate and unequal for the residents of U.S. territories.

CLE credit will be available, and the event will last from 11:45am to 1pm. The CNMI Bar is charging a $17 fee for the event, which is also its general membership meeting. For more information, contact Suzanne Steffy at cnmibar@pticom.com.

Weare, a civil rights attorney, is a graduate of Southern High in Guam and Yale Law School. He also represented Guam in the 2004 Athens Olympics. As president and founder of We the People Project, a non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C., he is lead counsel in Tuaua v. United States, a groundbreaking case arguing that Congress cannot deny Americans in the territories the right to constitutional citizenship.

Prior to founding the We the People Project, Weare was litigation counsel and Supreme Court Fellow at Constitutional Accountability Center. Weare clerked on the Alaska Supreme Court for Justice Morgan Christen, now a judge on the Ninth Circuit. He was also a Thomas Emerson Fellow at David Rosen & Associates in New Haven, Connecticut. As a law student, Neil argued CCJEF v. Rell, a landmark case before the Connecticut Supreme Court recognizing a right to adequate education for Connecticut schoolchildren.

We the People Project is an new effort to achieve equal rights and representation for the people of the Northern Mariana Islands and other U.S. territories.

“The people of the Northern Mariana Islands have a unique relationship and history with the United States, but that does not mean that the U.S. citizens who call these islands home should be left without voting representation in the federal government, particularly when federal laws can have such an acute affect on the islands,” Weare said.

“[Some] 4.7 million Americans lack equal rights and representation simply because they live in a U.S. territory or the District of Columbia. Working together, we can build a new civil rights movement that will help bring an end to this second-class treatment. Our rights as Americans should be the same, no matter where we live,” Weare said.

Weare is also promoting We the People Projects Equal Rights Pledge, where residents of the NMI can show their support for equal rights and representation. The pledge can be signed online at http://www.equalrightsnow.org/equal_rights_pledge.

People interested in supporting We the People Project with a financial contribution may make a secure online donation at https://wethepeopleproject.nationbuilder.com/make_a_donation.

More information about We the People Project is available at www.equalrightsnow.org.

We the People Project is also on Facebook (www.facebook.com/wethepeopleproject) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/equalnow). (PR)

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