I am a member of the bar of the United States Virgin Islands, as well as a member of the bar of the State of New York, and the bars of the 2nd, 3rd, and 5th circuits of the United States Court of Appeals.
As such, I took offense to Mr. Hoffman's position with reference to the actions taken by Krim Ballentine to end the disenfranchisement of residents of the Virgin Islands who are United States citizens.
Mr. Ballentine is seeking to be allowed to vote for the president of the United States. It follows that if he permitted to cast his vote for the executive of our federal government, all residents of the Virgin Islands who are United States citizens would be able to cast their votes for the president of the United States. It would terminate the continued denial of their right to vote as guaranteed by the equal protection clause and as contemplated by the Fourteenth Amendment.
Mr. Hoffman relies on the fact that the Constitution of the United States does not grant the right to vote to all citizens, e.g. felons, citizens under age and those citizens that have not registered to vote. He does acknowledge that the right to vote has been granted by amendment to those that have attained the age of 18 and to the residents of the District of Columbia who are United States citizens. His argument defeats its' self by incorporating an acknowledgment that the Constitution has been changed.
Our founding fathers had the fore site to envision the eventuality of changes in circumstances that would take place between the parties to a contract. The several states, as party to the contract, individually signed the contract and agreed to relinquish the absolute sovereignty enjoyed by them at the end of the revolution, and to vest the authority that they relinquished in a federal government that was created by this contract. The Constitution of the United States is that contract. The first ten amendments, the Bill of Rights, added another party to that contract, the citizens of the several states.
The United States Constitution was not written in stone. It provided for amendment to insure that it remained a living, breathing document and not a document that would become obsolete, archaic, and irrelevant with the passage of time. It was amended at its inception.
The drafters intended to "form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity" when they ordained and established the Constitution.
The Constitution has since been amended, inter alia, to include the abolition of slavery, a institution that the United States Constitution recognized, embraced, condoned, and provided for.
It has been amended to grant the right to vote to "negroes", "women" and all citizens upon reaching the age of 18. Additionally, the residents of the District of Columbia were granted the right to cast their vote for the President of the United States via Constitutional amendment. Most importantly, the Fourteenth Amendment to the constitution guarantees the citizens of the United States "equal protection" under the law.
I agree that the citizens of the United States do not vote for the president. They are given the allusion of casting their vote to determine the executive. In actuality, it is the several states via their electoral colleges that formally cast their vote to determine who will be president.
The Virgin Islands is not a State, ergo, it does not have an electoral college. The residents of the Virgin Islands are, none-the-less, citizens of the United States. In spite of the fact that they are citizens, they are not afforded the allusion of casting their vote for the president.
Women were given the right to vote. Citizens 18 years of age or older were given the right to vote. Moreover, the residents of Washington D.C. were given the right to vote after someone stood up to the injustice of their disenfranchisement and demanded change. It is time for the United States to treat all of its citizens equally.
The continued denial of equal protection under the law will not change if no one takes action. It will not change, if the issue is not raised, Spoken about, negotiated, demanded and finally, acted upon.
Krim Ballintine is the only person within the territory to raise, speak about, negotiated, and demanded an end to the disenfranchisement of United States citizens. Indeed, he has acted upon it.
He is not a "soi-disant" philosopher. He is a true American in the tradition of our founding fathers who fathomed a government without tyranny, and took action to end the oppression of the colonialist attitudes of their sovereign. His is a philosophy that first emerged in the eighteenth century, spread through out civilized world in the nineteenth century, and gained worldwide momentum and universal action and in the twentieth century. Indeed, it is a philosophy that America has used to justify America's invasion of Iraq in the twenty first century.
Mr. Ballentine's philosophy is well founded in the fabric of Americans, that philosophy that makes "America," "America". I will bet Mr. Hoffman dollars to donuts that Mr. Ballentine's philosophy is not an original thought on his behalf.
The notion of "democracy", "equality" and "individual inalienable rights" to guarantee a government, "for the people, by the people and of the people," was radical in its' day. The definition of radical changed with the establishment of the United States of America. The United States of America, its' Constitution and its amendments, have been changing since the day they were established. The United States has persevered because the contract is able to be changed.
Mr. Hoffman, I strongly suggest that if you are a citizen of the United States, a true citizen that realizes that change is the American way, you will applaud and join in Krim Ballentine's effort to end the inequality of citizenship currently experienced by the residents of the Virgin Islands.
He is not wasting the courts time. He is petitioning that branch of government that was established to protect his rights as a United States citizen, the branch of government that was established to allow every citizen access to their government to insure his/her rights are not violated.
Lofton P Holder
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