Home News Local government FYI: Governor's Veto of Funds for Supreme Court is Shameful

FYI: Governor's Veto of Funds for Supreme Court is Shameful


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Dec. 7, 2005 – In response to Governor Turnbull's veto of Bill No. 26-0131 placing the Supreme Court on St. Croix, Senator Russell offers the following statement.
Governor Turnbull continues to mislead the public, claiming that the Virgin Islands Supreme Court must be situated in St. Thomas because the 1954 Revised Organic Act [Act] states that the capital and seat of Government shall be in St. Thomas. The Act did not and was not intended to address or determine how, where, and when a Virgin Islands Supreme Court would be established. In fact, the seat of government/capital language in § 2 of the Act, clearly and without ambiguity, refers to the Executive Branch of government (see Section 16 of the Act). The newly created Virgin Islands Legislature has its own provision that states how, where and when the Legislature operates. The Act did not address a local judiciary because it established a federal judiciary created by Congress with two divisions situated in the two districts with equal power and jurisdiction (see Section 25 of the Act). Therefore, the Governor's attempt to convince the public that the Act mandates the Virgin Islands Supreme Court to be in St. Thomas is simply false and misleading.
The law (i.e. Public Law 98-454) that gives the Virgin Islands Legislature the authority to create a Supreme Court was adopted in 1984 as a means of expanding the autonomy of the territories and allowing for self-determination and governance. This law gave the Virgin Islands, through its elected Legislature, the authority to create an appellate court and determine how, where, and when it would be established. There are practically no restrictions in the law except that for the first fifteen years of its existence appeals from this court will be heard by the Third Circuit Court of appeals instead of the United States Supreme Court. Any attempt to now rewrite the law to require the Supreme Court to be housed in the capital or seat of government, goes against the intent and clear language of the 1984 law passed by Congress and signed by the President of the United States.
"The Governor's stubborn insistence seems to suggest that St. Croix is not worthy of housing the Supreme Court. It shows a complete disregard and disrespect not only for the law, but also for the people of St. Croix who would greatly benefit from housing the Supreme Court here on St. Croix. We are talking about millions of dollars in contracts and increased opportunities for employment associated with the development of the facility. The Governor does not want St. Croix to share in this prosperity, and that is a shame. If St. Croix is good enough to house the St. Thomas inmates at Golden Grove and St. Thomas youthful inmates at YRC, then why isn't St. Croix good enough to house the Supreme Court?" Lastly, there is a current precedent for housing a Supreme Court outside of a capital city, in that California's state capital and seat of government stand in Sacramento, while the State Supreme Court is housed in San Francisco.


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