Ninth Circuit Panel Hears Case Arguing for Expanded Voting Rights in U.S. Territories

Judges examine whether it is permissible for federal and state overseas voting laws to discriminate against people living in U.S. territories.

Three federal judges heard arguments on Monday in Honolulu, Hawaii as the Ninth Circuit considered Borja v. Nago, a federal lawsuit that seeks to expand voting rights in U.S. territories by challenging discriminatory federal and state overseas voting laws. Under the challenged laws, former residents of Hawaii or other states who live in a foreign country or the Northern Mariana Islands remain free to vote for President by absentee ballot in their former state of residence. But former residents who live in Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, or other territories cannot. The Borja plaintiffs argue this violates the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection. Today’s hearing was an appeal of a 2022 district court decision denying their claims.

Lead Plaintiff Benny Borja, a Navy veteran, was in Honolulu recovering from open heart surgery to address a service-connected ailment. While he was unable to join the argument in person because of his recovery, he stated:

 “I hope the court will recognize that my right to vote is as fundamental as any other U.S. citizen. I served my country, I deserve to be treated the same as everyone else.”


Read the full press release here



For more coverage of Borja v. Nago see here.

For more information on the case see here.


Co-Director Neil Weare alongside co-counsel from Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the law firm Skadden Arps

Co-Director Neil Weare alongside the Borja family.