Attorney General Edward Manibusan and Gov. Ralph DLG Torres have filed a joint petition for a certified question with the Commonwealth Supreme Court.
In a statement yesterday, Manibusan said the petition presents to the Supreme Court the question of the attorney general’s authority to decline to appeal adverse judgments and whether outside counsel may prosecute an appeal for the governor or a Commonwealth government agency without a grant of authority from the attorney general.
A dispute between the two elected officials arose after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued a decision in Davis v. Commonwealth Election Commission, 844 F.3d 1087 (9th Cir. 2016).
The Davis case involved the restriction in the Commonwealth Constitution limiting the right to vote on constitutional amendments involving land alienation to persons of Northern Marianas descent.
The Ninth Circuit held that the restriction—in Article 18, Section 5(c) of the CNMI Constitution—violates the 15th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
The attorney general declined to petition the U.S. Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari in the Davis case.
Without obtaining the consent of the attorney general, the governor directed private counsel, who met earlier with the attorney general, to file a petition for writ of certiorari.
On May 30, 2017, the private counsel filed the petition for writ of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of CEC, the CEC board chair, the CEC executive director, and the CNMI governor.
On Oct. 2, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court denied the petition of the governor and CEC. (PR)