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CONGRESSMAN ROBERT A. UNDERWOOD Delegate from Guam U.S. House of Representatives Washington, D.C.


NEWS RELEASE July 31, 2002


Congressman Robert A. Underwood reported today that a Senate companion bill to a House measure that would establish the Supreme Court of Guam as the head of a third, co-equal, and unified branch of government, was introduced today by Sen. Daniel K. Akaka (D-HA), and Sen. Larry E. Craig (R-ID).

The House legislation, H.R. 521, was introduced in February last year by Congressman Underwood and had a successful hearing in May before the House Resources Committee. During the committee hearing, Christopher Kearney, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and International Affairs of the Department of Interior, testified that the Bush Administration had no objection to the legislation.

The Senate legislation introduced today mirror's the House bill, which received bipartisan support.

In his statements today on the Senate floor, Sen. Akaka said lawmakers have always tried to balance the role of Congress when overriding federal interests are involved with the concerns expressed by territorial leaders and the general public.

"In this case, the establishment of an independent judicial branch on Guam is an overriding federal interest and is broadly supported by the people of Guam," Akaka said. "The bill is supported by General Ben Blaz, former Guam Delegate to Congress, Guam Governor Carl Gutierrez, Justice Philip Carbullido, Acting Chief Justice of Guam's Supreme Court, members of the Guam Bar Association, Guam's legal community, the National Conference of Chief Justices, and the Guam Pacific Daily News.

"I believe that today's legislation is necessary to ensure the integrity and independence of Guam's judicial system as a co-equal with the executive and legislative branches of the Government of Guam," Akaka concluded.

Congressman Underwood expressed his gratitude for Sen. Akaka's assistance, and reiterated that the bill's importance is evident by the overwhelming bipartisan support.

"This legislation would solidify the structure of Guam's judiciary and ensure its status as a separate and co-equal branch of government," Underwood said. "It would define the Supreme Court's authority as the supreme court of origin and eliminate the danger in allowing one branch of government to determine the existence of another."

Joseph E. Duenas Special Assistant Office of Congressman Robert A. Underwood, M.C. Guam District Office 120 Father Duenas Ave., Suite 107 Hagåtña, Guam 96910 Phone: (671) 477-4272 Fax: (671) 477-2587

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