Authored by Ken LaMance, LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law
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The Territory of Guam is an organized, unincorporated, insular U.S. territory. Guam is governed by an established civilian government that formed a little over 50 years ago. During the 1980s and 1990s, many Guam residents sought to become a commonwealth, under which it would enjoy self government similar to Puerto Rico. The U.S. federal government, however, found that the proposed commonwealth clashed with the U.S. Constitution's Territorial Clause.
Guam has trial courts, and it established a Supreme Court; however, due in part to its small caseload, Guam does not have an intermediate appellate court. Guam’s Federal District Court is a part of the Ninth Circuit, and Guam’s codified laws are based on the 1939 California Code.
Guam adopted a restrictive abortion law in 1990, which criminalized abortion for both the provider and the woman, except in cases of ectopic pregnancy or when two different physicians determined that the woman's life was endangered or her health was "gravely impaired."
However, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the Guam law in Ada v. Guam Society of Obstretricians & Gynecologists. The Ninth Circuit ruled that the Guam statute was unconstitutional under Roe v. Wade. Specifically, the court ruled that the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause applies to Guam by the Mink Amendment; and the Guam statute violated Roe by negating a woman’s rights and interests from the time of conception instead of limiting her rights via the established trimester framework.
There are a number of lawyers on Guam, many of whom graduated from Santa Clara University's Law School. Santa Clara Law School, located in California’s Silicon Valley, has educated more lawyers in Guam than any other U.S. academic institution. LegalMatch is a free, confidential service which can locate the pre-screened Guam lawyers for your specific case needs. By using LegalMatch, you can be sure that your lawyer is bar certified.