Torres to US high court: Disregard AG letter

Gov. Ralph DLG Torres wrote the U.S. Supreme Court’s clerk of court last July 4 to rebut Attorney General Edward Manibusan that the petition that Torres and the Commonwealth Election Commission filed about the voting rights issue before the high court was unauthorized.

In a letter, Torres asked U.S. Supreme Court’s clerk of court Scott Harris to disregard Manibusan’s “attempt to cast doubt” on the petition for certiorari, since he and the other petitioners endorse, approve, and authorize it in full.

A lawyer provided Saipan Tribune yesterday a copy of the governor’s letter in response to a news article about the U.S. Supreme Court’s denial of the petition that Torres, CEC, and its officials filed.

That petition had asked the high court to re-examine a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit that affirmed U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona’s ruling that voters who are not of Northern Marianas descent must be able to vote on Article 12 initiative and any other initiatives to amend Article 12.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s Office of the Clerk informed the 9th Circuit that the petition filed by Torres, CEC, and CEC officials has been denied.

Attorney Joseph Horey, who represents the Northern Marianas Descent Corp., filed the petition on behalf of Torres, CEC, and CEC officials.

That Saipan Tribune article quoted a Manibusan letter dated June 20, 2017, that informed the U.S. Supreme Court’s clerk of court that such filing is unauthorized.

Manibusan pointed out in the letter that none of the petitioners—Torres, CEC, and CEC officials—have the authority to file the petition.

But in his July 4 letter, Torres informed Harris that he, CEC, and CEC officials personally authorized Horey to file the petition.

“Mr. Manibusan’s contrary claim can only be understood as an extension of his ongoing efforts to assert a unilateral veto power over the CNMI Executive Branch in litigation matters,” Torres said.

As head of the branch, Torres said, he rejects Manibusan’s efforts as unconstitutional.

“I regret that Mr. Manibusan has sought to embroil you in an internal dispute regarding the powers, duties, and limitations of his office under the CNMI Constitution, as it is one that our own Commonwealth courts are fully capable of deciding should it persist,” the governor said.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a veteran journalist who has covered all news beats in the CNMI. Born in Lilo-an, Cebu City in the Philippines, De la Torre graduated from the University of Santo Tomas with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He is a recipient of many commendations and awards, including the CNMI Judiciary’s prestigious Justice Award for his over 10 years of reporting on the judiciary’s proceedings and decisions. Contact him at

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