Mr. COBLE. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass the bill (H.R. 6116) to amend the Revised Organic Act of the Virgin Islands to provide for direct appeals to the United States Supreme Court of decisions of the Virgin Islands Supreme Court.
The Clerk read the title of the bill.
The text of the bill is as follows:
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. DIRECT REVIEW BY U.S. SUPREME COURT OF DECISIONS OF VIRGIN ISLANDS SUPREME COURT.
Section 23 of the Revised Organic Act of the Virgin Islands (48 U.S.C. 1613) is amended by striking ``: Provided, That'' and all that follows through the end and inserting a period.
SEC. 2. JURISDICTION OF THE SUPREME COURT.
(a) In General.--Chapter 81 of title 28, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following: ``§1260. Supreme Court of the Virgin Islands; certiorari
``Final judgments or decrees rendered by the Supreme Court of the Virgin Islands may be reviewed by the Supreme Court by writ of certiorari where the validity of a treaty or statute of the United States is drawn in question or where the validity of a statute of the Virgin Islands is drawn in question on the ground of its being repugnant to the Constitution, treaties, or laws of the United States, or where any title, right, privilege, or immunity is specially set up or claimed under the Constitution
or the treaties or statutes of, or any commission held or authority exercised under, the United States.''.
(b) Conforming Amendment.--The table of sections for chapter 81 of title 28, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new item:
``1260. Supreme Court of the Virgin Islands; certiorari.''.
SEC. 3. EFFECTIVE DATE.
The amendments made by this Act apply to cases commenced on or after the date of the enactment of this Act.
Mr. COBLE. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may have 5 legislative days within which to revise and extend their remarks and include extraneous materials on H.R. 6116, as amended, currently under consideration.
Mr. COBLE. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
H.R. 6116 authorizes direct review by the United States Supreme Court of decisions rendered by the Supreme Court of the Virgin Islands. I thank Representative Christensen for her work on this bill.
Created in 2007, the Supreme Court of the U.S. Virgin Islands is the equivalent of a U.S. State supreme court. It is authorized to review all final orders, judgments, and specified interlocutory orders of the Virgin Islands Superior Court.
Appeals from the Virgin Islands Supreme Court are made by petitions of certiorari to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.
Federal statute specifies that discretionary review by the third circuit exists for the first 15 years following inception of the Virgin Islands Supreme Court or until it ``has developed sufficient institutional traditions to justify direct review by the Supreme Court of the United States from all [of its] final decisions,'' whichever is sooner.
The third circuit's judicial council, Mr. Speaker, evaluates the progress of the Virgin Islands Supreme Court in 5-year intervals. Following extensive review, the council published its initial 5th-year report last April. The council recommends that the U.S. Supreme Court exercise direct review of all final decisions made by the Virgin Islands Supreme Court.
H.R. 6116 adopts the third circuit recommendation. The bill simply authorizes the U.S. Supreme Court to review, at its discretion, all final judgments rendered by the Virgin Islands Supreme Court.
The suspension version under consideration makes two technical changes to the bill as introduced. First, it clarifies that the U.S. Supreme Court may review final judgments of the Virgin Islands Supreme Court pursuant to cert petitions. In other words, the U.S. Supreme Court may exercise its own discretion to accept or reject cases.
Secondly, the suspension version expands the U.S. Supreme Court's appellate jurisdiction through an additional reference to chapter 81 of title 28 of the U.S. Code. Chapter 81 sets forth the jurisdiction and venue of the U.S. Supreme Court. Judges, lawyers, and litigants look to it when they have questions about the Court's appellate jurisdiction. The creation of an additional reference to chapter 81 makes it easier to find the new law.
I again express my thanks to Mrs. CHRISTENSEN for her work on this bill, and I urge my colleagues to support H.R. 6116.
I reserve the balance of my time.