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HomeNewsArchivesFYI: Sen. Ronald Russell Discusses V.I. Constitution

FYI: Sen. Ronald Russell Discusses V.I. Constitution

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Jan. 31, 2005 — Senator Ronald E. Russell said he opposes proposed legislation to adopt the Revised Organic Act of 1954 as the Constitution of the Virgin Islands.
Senator Russell said the adoption of the Revised Organic Act of 1954 as the Constitution of the Virgin Islands defeats the very notion of self-governance and denies the people of this territory an opportunity to have their voices heard.
"The word constitution as a legal term of art denotes that the will of the people for self-rule and autonomy is reflected in the very document," Senator Russell said. "It defeats the very idea of a constitution if a document external to the people's will is viewed as a constitution."
Senator Russell said while there may be certain aspects of the Revised Organic Act of 1954 that could be incorporated into a Virgin Islands Constitution, the people of the territory deserve to be adequately represented when a new constitution is drafted.
"The power to create our own constitution was given to us by Congress," Senator Russell said. "Why should we now turn around and use the same document that was intended to transfer us out of colonial rule to autonomy? One of the key steps in demonstrating that we are capable of self-rule is drafting our own constitution. The people of this territory must have the confidence and willpower to do so."
Senator Russell also noted that we have had four constitutional conventions in the past. In all prior conventions, we were able to assemble some of the most well-educated, intelligent and respected people in our community to draft constitutions. Though each of the past four conventions ended in failure, Senator Russell said that the work and ideas of the previous conventions should not be completely abandoned.
"Why not use the results of these past constitutional conventions to form the basis of a new constitution rather than adopting the Revised Organic Act?" asked Senator Russell. "As useful as it has been to us for the past 50 years, the Revised Organic Act of 1954 could in no terms be viewed as a constitution since it does not come from the people of this territory, is not of the people, and does not reflect the people's will for self-government."

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