Charlotte Amalie 𑁋The Revised Organic Act of the Virgin Islands is a United States federal law that repealed and replaced the Virgin Islands’ previous Organic Act. It was passed on July 22, 1954, by the U.S. Congress to act as the basis for law in the United States Virgin Islands. Like other organic acts, it functions as a constitution for a territory governed by the United States Constitution.
In November, the territory’s 2020 General Election asked voters if they supported adopting significant portions of the Revised Organic Act to form a Virgin Islands constitution. Voters had the option to choose “yes” or “no” at the polls and the referendum could lead to the territory’s sixth constitutional convention if it were adopted as policy by the legislative and executive branch. Read the Virgin Islands’ Revised Organic Act of 1954 here.
The Revised Organic Act created:
- An executive branch of government with a governor elected by a majority of registered voters every four years.
- A unicameral (single-body) legislature of 15 members, elected by the residents of the U.S. Virgin Islands. While this legislature primarily creates the laws that govern the islands, the ultimate laws that govern are still those of the U.S. constitution and the U.S. Congres, a body in which Virgin Islanders have no vote;
- A local court system with judges appointed by the governor;
- A Bill of Rights.
The U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam are the last remaining U.S. territories that don’t have an established constitution. American Samoa, the Northern Mariana Islands, and Puerto Rico each have constitutions that govern their local laws, with the U.S. Constitution serving as the preceding federal law. The United States Code mandates that both jurisdictions must “recognize, and be consistent with, the sovereignty of the United States over the Virgin Islands and Guam, respectively, and the supremacy of the provisions of the Constitution, treaties, and laws of the United States applicable to the Virgin Islands and Guam, respectively, including, but not limited to, those provisions of the Organic Act.”
The United States Code is the codification by subject matter of the United States’ general and permanent laws. It is divided by broad subjects into 53 titles and published by the Office of the Law Revision Counsel of the U.S. House of Representatives.
The Guam Organic Act of 1950 was similarly enacted by the United States to govern the island territory, granting citizenship to the residents of Guam and career opportunities in the Armed Forces. The organic act offered Guam a district seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Like other U.S. territories, it cannot participate in presidential elections, and none of the territories’ elected representatives in the House can vote on bills brought to the floor.