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authorized the territory to enact its Court Reorganization Act, by which it transferred the appellate jurisdiction of the district court to the newly created Supreme Court of Guam.
When defendant Olsen appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Court sitting en banc reversed and remanded. In a 7-4 decision, it specifically overruled Agana Bay, and held, on August 10, 1976, that the provisions of Guam's Court Reorganization Act transferring the appellate jurisdiction of the district court to a territorial court are not authorized by the Organic Act. The opinion noted that litigation in the territorial court may involve substantial Federal questions which cannot be reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court or by another article III court under existing statutes. The Court observed:
We recognize that Guam's Court Reorganization Act was drawn to give expression to a strong desire by the territorial legislature for a greater degree of autonomy and self-government for Guam, and our ruling should not be construed as critical of that objective. We hold only that the appellate jurisdiction of the district court may not be transferred without congressional authorization and pursuant to such provisions and safeguards as Congress may provide.
U. N. Resolutions
On December 1, 1976, the U.N. General Assembly adopted resolutions on American Samoa (Res. 31/55), the U.S. Virgin Islands (Res. 31/57), and Guam (Res. 31/58). The first two were adopted by consensus and the third by a vote of 61 to 22 (U.S.), with 42 abstentions. The resolutions on American Samoa and the Virgin Islands asserted the right of the territories to self-determination in accordance with the 1960 Declaration on Decolonization, urged the United States to safeguard the right of the local people to the enjoyment of their natural resources, requested the United States to continue using the assistance of the U.N. Specialized Agencies to accelerate progress in the territories, and requested the Special Committee to continue its consideration of these territories. The U.S. Delegation did not block consensus approval but pointed out that independence is only one possible result of an act of selfdetermination and that the people of the territories wished to maintain their ties with the United States.
Senator Howard H. Baker, Jr., U.S. representative in plenary, explained U.S. opposition to the resolution on Guam,which, inter alia, deplored U.S. policy in continuing to maintain military installations there. Senator Baker said, in part:
Guam is a territory of the United States and the people of Guam are American citizens. Under the Charter of the United Nations and international law, the United States has the unquestionable right to defend the territory of Guam and to establish such bases on that territory as are necessary to the defense of the United States and to the collective defense of the United States and its allies. No government would accept any challenge to its right to defend itself and to take military measures on its own territory for purposes of that defense. The United States categorically rejects such a challenge and accordingly finds improper and unacceptable the language in the draft resolution regarding military bases on Guam and that portion of the resolution which approves the chapter of the Report of the Committee of 24 on Guam, which also expresses concern about U.S. military bases on Guam.
Press Release USUN-172(76), Dec. 1, 1976.
The Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands Northern Mariana Islands
President Ford, on March 24, 1976, signed Public Law 94-241 (90 Stat. 263; 48 U.S.C. 1681 note), a joint resolution to approve the Covenant to Establish a Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands in Political Union with the United States. The legislation, which constituted another step toward achievement of commonwealth status for the Northern Mariana Islands, had been passed by the House of Representatives by voice vote without dissent on July 21, 1975, and by the Senate by vote of 67 to 22 on February 24, 1976. The Mariana Islands District Legislature had approved the Covenant on February 20, 1975, and the people of the Northern Mariana Islands had voted their approval on June 17, 1975, in a plebiscite called by the United States and conducted under the supervision of Plebiscite Commissioner Erwin D. Canham, with United Nations observers present. The plebiscite, in which 95 percent of those eligible cast ballots, had resulted in 78.8 percent approval of the Covenant.
The Covenant becomes effective in stages, pursuant to a formula incorporated in article X. Its approval by the Northern Marianas and the United States paves the way for the enactment by the United States of legislation to be applicable to the Northern Marianas and the formulation and approval by the people of the Northern Mariana Islands of a Constitution, to be submitted in turn to the Government of
the United States for approval on the basis of its consistency with the Covenant and those provisions of the Constitution, treaties and laws of the United States to be applicable to the Northern Marianas. The Constitution will be deemed approved, pursuant to article II of the Covenant, six months after its submission to the President of the United States unless earlier approved or disapproved.
The final step required to bring the Northern Mariana Islands into self-governing commonwealth status with the United States is the termination of the Trusteeship Agreement, in effect since 1947, between the United States and the Security Council of the United Nations (TIAS 1665; 61 Stat. 3301). Termination of the Trusteeship Agreement is tentatively scheduled for 1980 or 1981 and will be considered along with agreement on the future status of the remainder of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands.
In signing the joint resolution approving the Covenant of the Northern Mariana Islands, President Ford stated, in part:
I am signing today an historic document. . .
... First, it is a significant step in carrying out our obligations under the United Nations Trusteeship Agreement which has been the basis of the United States' administration of these islands since 1947. Second, it confirms our national commitment to the principle of self-determination by honoring the freely expressed wishes of the peoples of these islands for political union with the United States. And third, the joining together of all of the Marianas under one flag and one common citizenship represents the first major addition to United States territory in the Pacific since 1898.
For the full text of President Ford's statement, see Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents, Vol. 12, No. 13, Mar. 29, 1976, pp. 482-483. For the text of the Covenant, see P.L. 94-241; 90 Stat. 263; 48 U.S.C. 1681 note. For a summary of its contents, see the 1975 Digest, pp. 98–103. See also H. Rept. 94-364 (Comm. on Interior and Insular Affairs), S. Rept. 94-433 (Comm. on Interior and Insular Affairs), and S. Rept. 94-596 (Comms. on Foreign Relations and Armed Services).
The Acting Secretary of the Interior, on March 24, 1976, issued Secretarial Order No. 2989 regarding the authority of the Government of the Mariana Islands District of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands (renamed the "Government of the Northern Mariana Islands"). The order delimits the extent and nature of the authority of the Government of the Northern Mariana Islands, and prescribes the manner in which its relationships shall be established and maintained with the Congress, the Department of the Interior, and other Federal agencies, and with foreign governments and international bodies.
The executive authority of the Government of the Northern Mariana Islands, as well as the responsibility to carry out the
effective provisions of the Covenant of the Commonwealth, supra, and laws and regulations currently or subsequently in force and the responsibility to carry out the international obligations undertaken by the United States with respect to the Northern Mariana Islands, are vested in a U.S. Resident Commissioner, appointed by the Secretary of the Interior. The relations of the Government of the Northern Mariana Islands with the Congress of the United States on all legislative matters, including appropriations, are to be conducted through the Department of the Interior, as are contacts with other Federal agencies.
Communications with foreign governments and international bodies are to be through the Department of the Interior for transmittal by the Department of State, unless some other procedure is approved by the Secretary of the Interior. Communications between the High Commissioner of the Trust Territory and the Resident Commissioner are to be conducted directly.
The legislative power of the Northern Mariana Islands Legislature, consisting of one House, extends to all rightful subjects of legislation, except that no legislation may be inconsistent with treaties or international agreements of the United States, the Covenant of the Commonwealth, the laws of the United States applicable to the Northern Mariana Islands either separately or as part of the Trust Territory, Executive orders of the President, orders of the Secretary of the Interior, or the Bill of Rights of the Trust Territory Code.
United States property, as well as property of the Northern Marianas or of the Trust Territory, is to be tax-exempt; property of nonresidents may not be taxed at a higher rate than that of residents. The order includes additional protective measures with respect to taxing of U.S. agencies, instrumentalities, and contractors of the United States.
The order provides for continuity of laws, court proceedings, and legal rights, job protections for citizens of the Trust Territory who are residents of the Northern Mariana Islands and employed by the Trust Territory Government, and freedom of travel of citizens of the Trust Territory within the Territory on the same basis as prior to the separation of the Northern Marianas.
The order became effective April 1, 1976, to remain in effect until the issuance of the proclamation by the President called for in section 1003(b) of article X of the Covenant.
For the text of the order and an accompanying proclamation by the Acting Secretary of the Interior, see Fed. Reg., Vol. 41, No. 74, Apr. 15, 1976, pp. 15892-15896. On Oct. 25, 1976, President Ford issued E.O. 11944, authorizing delegation of authority to the Secretary of the Treasury with respect to § 606(a) of the Covenant to Establish a Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands in Political Union with
the United States of America, concerning the Northern Mariana Islands Social Security Retirement Fund. Fed. Reg., Vol. 41, No. 209, Oct. 28, 1976, p. 47215.
The U.N. Trusteeship Council, at its 43d session, June 29-July 13, 1976, reaffirmed the right of the people of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands to self-determination and affirmed its conviction that the unity of the Caroline Islands and Marshall Islands should be maintained. The Council recognized that the people of the Northern Mariana Islands, "in the free exercise of their right to selfdetermination," had by a large majority approved the Covenant to Establish a Commonwealth in Political Union with the United States. The Council also took note of U.S. assurances that certain provisions would not take effect until after the termination of the Trusteeship Agreement, and that it was the U.S. intention that the agreement be terminated simultaneously for the entire Territory. Ambassador Albert W. Sherer, Jr., U.S. Representative on the Council, in a statement on July 8, 1976, voiced U.S. appreciation for the work of the Trusteeship Council:
Clearly, and we believe, quite properly, the days of the Trusteeship system are numbered and in line with U.S. responsibilities under the Charter and the Trusteeship Agreement, important steps have been taken during the past year toward the final determination of the post-trusteeship political status of the peoples of Micronesia.
Attention has been directed to the question of whether the United States should undertake separate negotiations with the representatives of the Marshall Islands and the Palau Islands, and there have been allegations that the United States is attempting to "colonize" Micronesia by forcing the Caroline and Marshall Islands to remain unified against their will. The Micronesian negotiators and the leadership of the Congress of Micronesia have clearly stated that their preferred option is unity for the Marshall and Caroline Islands in Free Association with the United States. The initialed Compact of Free Association responds to that desire.
United States policy on the future political status of the Trust Territory is clear and well known. The United States supports the expressed desire for unity of the Carolines and the Marshalls and views the Compact of Free Association as an instrument to accomplish this goal. We recognize, however, that sovereignty rests with the people of Micronesia and that it is for them to decide what political status they desire. The Compact by its terms will not come into effect in a district if the people of that district vote by a 55% margin to reject the Compact. The people of Palau and the Marshall Islands have this option and may freely exercise their right of self-determination by approving or rejecting the Compact when the status plebiscite is held. I also draw the attention of the Council to section 1102(b) of the Compact which provides for unilateral termination of the Compact by either Micronesia or the United States after 15 years. These provisions were proposed by the Micronesian status negotiators and were accepted by the