S.J.Res 33: A joint resolution to provide for the reconsideration and revision of the proposed constitution of the United States Virgin Islands

S.J.Res 33

A joint resolution to provide for the reconsideration and revision of the proposed constitution of the United States Virgin Islands

Date
June 29, 2010 (111th Congress, 2nd Session)

Staff Contact
Communications

Floor Situation

S.J. Res. 33 is being considered on the floor on Tuesday, June 29, 2010, under a suspension of the rules, requiring a two-thirds majority vote for passage.  This legislation was introduced by Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) on June 17, 2010, and passed in the Senate the same day by unanimous consent.  The bill was received in the House on June 22, 2010, and no further official action was taken.

Bill Summary

S.J. Res. 33 would express the joint sense of the House and Senate that Congress recognizes the work of the Virgin Islands’ Fifth Constitutional Convention to create a proposed constitution, but urges the Convention to reconvene for the purpose of reconsidering and revising the constitution to address concerns raised by the Department of Justice.  In addition, the legislation would also require that, if the constitutional convention reconvenes, it would have to submit the revised constitution to the governor of the Virgin Islands and the president.  The president would have 60 days to make new comments on the revised proposed constitution.

Background

Public Law 94-584 was signed in 1976 and gave the U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam the authority to convene constitution conventions and to create constitutions.  According to the findings listed in the legislation, the Virgin Islands submitted a proposed constitution drafted by the Fifth Constitutional Convention to the president.  Under current law, the president has 60 days to review and make comments on the proposed constitution.  After reviewing the constitution, the Department of Justice made a number of comments and suggestions for how the constitution should be revised.  Issues of concern raised by the DOJ included:

  • The absence of an express recognition of United States sovereignty and the supremacy of federal law.
  • Provisions for a special election on the territorial status of the United States Virgin Islands.
  • Provisions conferring legal advantages on certain groups defined by place and timing of birth, timing of residency, or ancestry.
  • Residence requirements for certain offices.
  • Provisions addressing territorial waters and marine resources.
  • Imprecise language in certain provisions of the bill of rights of the proposed constitution.

In order to resolve these concerns, S.J. Res. 33 urges the Virgin Islands to further revise their proposed constitution and resubmit to the president.

Cost

A CBO score for S.J. Res. 33 was not available as of press time.