Aurelius

LA JUEZ SWAIN DECIDIÓ AURELIUS, ¿AHORA QUE?

La aseguradora Aurelius argumentaba que la forma que la Junta de Supervisión Fiscal fue nombrada era inconstitucional. El Gobierno de USA, el de PR, la Junta y varios otros, amparándose en los casos insulares se opusieron. Seis meses después del argumento oral, la Juez Swain falló a favor de la Junta. Pero esa no es la noticia, la noticia es como llegó a esa decisión. Para poder salvar la Junta y por ende el Título III que preside, la Juez Swain revirtió a decir lo que muchos sabíamos y otros ocultaban. El poder del Congreso (no necesariamente de la Junta) sobre PR es total, absoluto y completo, excepto sobre asuntos de derechos fundamentales. ¿Como lo hizo? A la página 15 de su decisión dice así:

 

A federal territory’s “relation to the general government is much the same as that which counties bear to the respective States, and Congress may legislate for them as a State does for its municipal organizations.” First Nat’l Bank v. Yankton Cty., 101 U.S. 129, 133 (1879). Congress can thus amend the acts of a territorial legislature, abrogate laws of territorial legislatures, and exercise “full and complete legislative authority over the people of the Territories and all the departments of the territorial governments.” Id. With respect to territorial governance, Congress exercises the governance powers reserved under the Constitution to the people in respect of state matters. Id. In this sense, Congress occupies a dual role with respect to the territories of the United States: as the national Congress of the United States, and as the local legislature of the territory. See Cincinnati Soap Co., 301 U.S. at 317 (“A [territory] has no government but that of the United States, except in so far as the United States may permit. The national government may do for one of its dependencies whatever a state might do for itself or one of its political subdivisions, since over such a dependency the nation possesses the sovereign powers of the general government plus the powers of a local or a state government in all cases where legislation is possible.”); see also Keller v. Potomac Elec. Power Co., 261 U.S. 428, 442–43 (1923) (recognizing that, in exercising Congress’s substantially identical power over the District of Columbia, Congress had power to create courts “of the District, not only with the jurisdiction and powers of federal courts in the several states, but with such authority as a state (1828) (recognizing the power of Congress to create a territorial court with jurisdiction that could not otherwise have been constitutionally granted to a state court); United States v. McMillan, 165 U.S. 504, 510–11 (1897) (explaining that territorial courts are not “courts of the United States, and do not come within the purview of acts of Congress which speak of ‘courts of the United States’ only,” although Congress exercises the combined powers of the general government, and of a state government with respect to territories and could directly legislate for any territory or “extend the laws of the United States over it, in any particular that congress may think fit.”) may confer on her courts”); Am. Ins. Co. v. 356 Bales of Cotton, 26 U.S. (1 Pet.) 511, 546 (1828) (recognizing the power of Congress to create a territorial court with jurisdiction that could not otherwise have been constitutionally granted to a state court); United States v. McMillan, 165 U.S. 504, 510–11 (1897) (explaining that territorial courts are not “courts of the United States, and do not come within the purview of acts of Congress which speak of ‘courts of the United States’ only,” although Congress exercises the combined powers of the general government, and of a state government with respect to territories and could directly legislate for any territory or “extend the laws of the United States over it, in any particular that congress may think fit.”). (énfasis suplido)

 

A la página 21 da su toque final y resumió así:

 

In summary, Congress has plenary power under the Territories Clause to establish governmental institutions for territories that are not only distinct from federal government entities but include features that would not comport with the requirements of the Constitution if they pertained to the governance of the United States. It has exercised this power with respect to Puerto Rico over the course of nearly 120 years, including the delegation to the people of Puerto Rico elements of its plenary Article IV authority by authorizing a significant degree of local self-governance. Such territorial delegations and structures may, however, be modified by Congress. John R. Thompson, 346 U.S. at 109. (énfasis suplido)

 

Yo fui la primera persona en PR en reportarlo y puse la sentencia  en la web. La prensa Boricua se tardó dos horas en publicar la noticia. Nadie excepto Kike Cruz y Jay Fonseca le dieron la importancia que tiene en los medios. El PPD ha estado mudo todo el fin de semana y algunos de sus miembros han tratado de minimizar su impacto, diciendo que esto se sabía, que es Sánchez Valle light, etc. En realidad, es una explicación fría, destemplada y severa de la relación de PR con el Congreso. No olvidemos que en Downes v. Bidwell, 182 U.S. 244, 289-290 (1901) se indica que:

 

The Constitution has undoubtedly conferred on Congress the right to create such municipal organizations as it may deem best for all the territories of the United States, whether they have been incorporated or not, to give to the inhabitants as respects the local governments such degree of representation as may be conducive to the public wellbeing, to deprive such territory of representative government if it is considered just to do so, and to change such local governments at discretion.

 

Cuando se crea el ELA, el PPD y el Gobierno Federal, nos tratan de convencer que esto es algo nuevo, sin precedente y especial. Que era un pacto que no se podía cambiar. El Primer Circuito decidió varios casos sosteniendo esta visión y fue cómplice de la patraña del ELA. A pesar de los casos de Harris v. Rosario, 446 U.S. 651 (1980) y Califano v. Torres, 435 U. S. 1 (1978), el PPD siguió con la teoría de que el Congreso había relinquished(cedido) su poder para legislar de asuntos internos de PR. Cuando el SCOTUS decidió PR v. Sánchez Valle, 579 U.S. ___ (2016), los apologistas del ELA corrieron a decir que solo aplicaba al asunto de doble exposición, que de hecho el caso sostenía la viabilidad del ELA. Entonces vino PROMESA y el PPD se aferró a que era inconstitucional, pero ni para los guardias lo impugnaron. Ahora que la Juez Swain lo puso de forma tan tajante, no saben que decir, a sabiendas que el caso tiene altas posibilidades de llegar al SCOTUS y que nuevamente la relación colonial de PR se sostenga.

 

El ala soberanista del PPD está de plácemes y continua su asalto por el control del partido. No se que pasará, pero este hito en la historia de PR va a tener un efecto negativo en las aspiraciones del Gobernador de evitar que la Junta le arrebate facultades que entiende son del Gobierno de PR. Después del desastre en la AEE la semana pasada no se si eso sea una mala idea.

 

 

 

 

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