Do the Virgin Islands Deserve a Constitution?
I just read an article in the St. Thomas Source about the Virgin Islands Constitutional Convention and their deliberations over public education. You can read the article.
In this article, the Source describes a plenary session of delegates to discuss constitutional provisions to construct the Board of Education in the Virgin Islands. What?! Yes, they are drafting text to outline what the Board of Education should look like – in a constitutional document.
When I presented to the Delegates to Convention, I told them that many of the issues they are fighting over should not – and do not need to – be addressed in a constitution.
One of the delegates – Douglas Brady sets the tone for what has always been my argument with the delegates:
What you just read seems to me like a regulation from the Department of Labor. Which is exactly where a lot of this language should be. This is not constitutional stuff. We should be laying out the framework of the government and then the government in place puts in the fine details.
I couldn’t agree more. A Constitution is the framework for laws and regulations…it is neither law nor regulation.
The Delegates to the US Constitutional Convention were not government officials. The Framers of the US Constitution were not (originally) legislators; they were Revolutionaries. The delegates to the various State Conventions were also revolutionaries. There were no governments at the times these conventions were being held. Even under Reconstruction, the governments that existed were viewed as Rebel Governments and thus invalid. So, those delegates were also Revolutionaries. These delegates weren’t there to craft legislation. They were crafting revolution! They left the legislation to the Government they were founding.
The Delegates to the Virgin Islands Constitutional Convention have yet to realize that they are, in fact, Revolutionaries. Our delegates are caught treating the Constitution as a piece of legislation – worrying about issues that should be dealt with in a legislative body. They are to be founding a new Government – not reforming an old one. Yet, they are at the whim of the VI Legislature that is fundamentally opposed to the success of a Convention. The Legislature may say they are for a VI Constitution, however most of them are surely against it as order and accountability that come from structure (a Constitution) will – possibly – mean less graft and corruption.
One official in Governor de Jongh’s cabinet actually told me that he prefers the Virgin Islands to adopt the Revised Organic Act of 1954 as our fundamental document! Yes, one of the people entrusted to lead Virgin Islanders advocates that the Virgin Islands be governed by a document written by Congress – and people with no vested interest in the Virgin Islands. With the Organic Act, it will take an act of Congress to change anything – on the ground – in the Virgin Islands…and we know how quickly that will happen.
Do Virgin Islanders deserve a Constitution? Did Britain write the US Constitution? Did the Federal Government write the Constitution of Delaware, Virginia, Florida, Georgia or any of the fifty states? So, why should the Federal Government write our founding document? As a matter of fact, can we even say that the Virgin Islands have truly been established until we craft our own document?
How can Delegate to Convention expect the Government of the Virgin Islands to support the creation of a document that will curtail their power? I’m not so sure that will happen. Could that be the reason we are now in our Fifth Constitutional Convention? Could that be why this convention is struggling? Just a thought…
Freedom and Liberty are things we must fight for, and they are things that the Government will not give to the people. Freedom comes when people seize the moment and take control of their own destiny. Are you willing to do the work to the freedom of Virgin Islanders?
What do you think about a Constitution for the Virgin Islands? Do we need one? Should we simply adopt the Organic Act, written by Congress? Do you think a Constitution will be of benefit to the Virgin Islands?
Virgin Islands for the Virgin Islanders…those at home and those abroad!