Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. I thank the gentleman from Virginia, and especially also my dear friend and colleague, the gentleman from North Carolina, as managers of this important legislation.
Mr. Speaker, I rise today in strong support of H.R. 6116, a bill to provide for appeals from the Virgin Islands Supreme Court to go to the U.S. Supreme Court instead of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.
H.R. 6116, sponsored by my good friend, the gentlelady from the U.S. Virgin Islands, Dr. Christensen, simply puts into legislation a decision vetted by the judicial council of the third circuit, established through a process which has already been authorized by Congress.
Mr. Speaker, in 1984, Congress provided Guam and the Virgin Islands with the authority to establish local supreme courts, and the law provided for appeals from these courts to go to their respective circuit courts of appeals for the first 15 years unless after 5 years their respective court of appeals found the local supreme court was ready for appeals to go directly to the U.S. Supreme Court.
On April 18 of this year, the third circuit's judicial council published a 23-page report on the Virgin Islands Supreme Court that was submitted to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources and also to the House Committee on Natural Resources. In its review, the council concluded that the Virgin Islands Supreme Court has developed sufficient institutional traditions to justify direct review by the Supreme Court of the United States of all final decisions. The council affirmed that the Virgin Islands Supreme Court's quality of case law was commensurate with that of the supreme courts of several States, and among other remarkable reviews, stated further that the third circuit court has yet to reverse a decision of the Virgin Islands Supreme Court.
I congratulate the Virgin Islands Supreme Court Chief Justice Rhys Hodge and Associate Justices Maria Cabret and Ive Swan for this extraordinary feat, and I commend again the gentlelady from the Virgin Islands for introducing this timely legislation.
I urge my colleagues to support this bill.