Article 2: Constitution of the Northern Mariana Islands


  • Case Annotations: Vaughn v. Bank of Guam, 1 N.M.I. 160--164; Sablan v. Inos, 3 N.M.I. 418--433; Sablan v. Tenorio, 4 N.M.I. 351--361, 376.


Section 201The people of the Northern Mariana Islands will formulate and approve a Constitution and may amend their Constitution pursuant to the procedures provided therein.

 

Section 202The Constitution will be submitted to the Government of the United States for approval on the basis of its consistency with this Covenant and those provisions of the Constitution, treaties and laws of the United States to be applicable to the Northern Mariana Islands. The Constitution will be deemed to have been approved six months after its submission to the President on behalf of the Government of the United States unless earlier approved or disapproved. If disapproved the Constitution will be returned and will be resubmitted in accordance with this Section. Amendments to the Constitution may be made by the people of the Northern Mariana Islands without approval by the Government of the United States, but the courts established by the Constitution or laws of the United States will be competent to determine whether the Constitution and subsequent amendments thereto are consistent with this Covenant and with those provisions of the Constitution, treaties and laws of the United States applicable to the Northern Mariana Islands.

 

Section 203(a) The Constitution will provide for a republican form of government with separate executive, legislative and judicial branches, and will contain a bill of rights.


(b) The executive power of the Northern Mariana Islands will be vested in a popularly elected Governor and such other officials as the Constitution or laws of the Northern Mariana Islands may provide.


(c) The legislative power of the Northern Mariana Islands will be vested in a popularly elected legislature and will extend to all rightful subjects of legislation. The Constitution of the Northern Mariana Islands will provide for equal representation for each of the chartered municipalities of the Northern Mariana Islands in one house of a bicameral legislature, notwithstanding other provisions of this Covenant or those provisions of the Constitution or laws of the United States applicable to the Northern Mariana Islands.


  • Case Annotations: Sablan v. Inos, 3 N.M.I. 418--432; Sablan v. Tenorio, 4 N.M.I. 351-- 356, 365, 368, 369, 371, 373, 374, 375, 376, 377.


(d) The judicial power of the Northern Mariana Islands will be vested in such courts as the Constitution or laws of the Northern Mariana Islands may provide. The Constitution or laws of the Northern Mariana Islands may vest in such courts jurisdiction over all causes in the Northern Mariana Islands over which any court established by the Constitution or laws of the United States does not have exclusive jurisdiction.


  • Case Annotations: Wabol v. Villacrusis, 1 N.M.I. 34--42, 45; Vaughn v. Bank of Guam, 1 N.M.I. 160--164, 167, 168; Commonwealth v. Bordallo, 1 N.M.I. 208--213; Sablan v. Tenorio, 4 N.M.I. 351--361.


The source of judicial authority in the NMI is Covenant § 203(d), which essentially provides that the disposition of a case arising under the laws of the Commonwealth is ultimately a decision for the people (Constitution) or legislature (laws) of the Commonwealth. Therefore, it is manifestly impermissible for the U.S. Congress to pass a law that places a case arising under the laws of the Commonwealth beyond the reach of the people or the legislature of the Commonwealth. Vaughn v. Bank of Guam, 1 N.M.I. 160 (1990), stay denied, 1 N.M.I. 318 (1990).


Covenant provides for the NMI to choose whether to use the federal court system as part of its judicial process, all of its judicial process, or none of its judicial process. Wabol v. Villacrusis, 1 N.M.I. 34 (1989), rev'd, 11 F.3d 124 (9th Cir. 1993).


Covenant § 203(d), providing that judicial power of NMI will be vested in such courts as NMI Constitution and laws provide, is the basis for N.M.I. Const. art. IV, providing for a local judiciary. Section 203(d) may not be amended without mutual consent of NMI and U.S., and any enactment under that provision is exclusively within the authority of the NMI. Covenant § 105. Wabol v. Villacrusis, 1 N.M.I. 34 (1989), rev'd, 11 F.3d 124 (9th Cir. 1993).


Section 204All members of the legislature of the Northern Mariana Islands and all officers and employees of the Government of the Northern Mariana Islands will take an oath or affirmation to support this Covenant, those provisions of the Constitution, treaties and laws of the United States applicable to the Northern Mariana Islands, and the Constitution and laws of the Northern Mariana Islands.