I have been following the effort to create a Supreme Court of the Virgin Islands with interest. The move for a superior court seems irrational when we consider that St. Croix, St. Thomas and St. John continue to be denied municipal government, government closest to the people. It is, in my opinion, ill advised to continue to attempt to reorganize our government in a piecemeal fashion, without a thought for convening a Constitutional Convention to address all issues in a comprehensive manner.
I was shocked that a certain senator would even compare our situation with that of the Northern Marianas, a group of Pacific Islands with a population of 78,000 more or less.
The Northern Marianas with a compact with the United States have adopted their own Constitution which;
* Provides for an Appeals Court;
* Made strong provisions for a Civil Service;
* Provides for a legislature that meets twice a year for no more than 90 days to act on territorial issues;
* Sets a salary for Legislators of $ 8000 per year, with a Legislature devoid of a host of political campaigners;
* Provides for municipal government on each Island, with mayor and council, to provide for purely local island issues;
* Has set a limit on the legislature's budget;
* Provides for an auditor with a stipulated budget;
What is it that we should be comparing? A Supreme Court that the 25th
Legislature wants to create? To benefit whom? At whose expense?
The present system, in my opinion, is quite adequate until Virgin Islanders decide in a Constitutional Convention otherwise.
Our present Legislature, elected, unlike the Marianas', from no representative island districts, is certainly lacking in certain cares as they demonstrate. And, the Judiciary, though performing quite well, may very well be tainted by the reports in certain Inspector General's Reports to the Congress.
Our efforts to improve government must be comprehensive and should be reflected in our adopted Constitution.
Arnold M. Golden
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