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News Posted on October 27, 2017

Professor Villazor Comments on Department of Justice Suit for Vice

Professor Rose Cuison Villazor commented for Vice on a lawsuit filed by the Department of Justice seeking to end the Chamorro Land Trust Commission, a program enacted by the Guam Legislature in 1975 that grants low-cost leases to indigenous people who wish to rent land for agricultural or residential purposes. The Trump administration is claiming the program violates the Federal Free Housing Act, which ensures equal access to property regardless of race.

"This case represents an overlooked tension in equal protection law," said Villazor. “On the one hand, equal protection law prohibits race-based discrimination in property. On the other hand, case law has recognized that land restrictions in the U.S. territories may deviate from traditional equal protection principles. For example, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a land alienation restriction on the basis of Northern Marianas descent… In American Samoa, the territory's high court has upheld restrictions on land ownership based on American Samoan blood."

Professor Rose Cuison Villazor joined the UC Davis faculty in 2012 from the Maurice A. Deane Law School at Hofstra University. She has also taught at Columbia Law School and the Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law. Professor Villazor teaches and writes in the areas of property law, immigration law, race, and citizenship.