SAN JUAN – Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González Colón spoke out on Monday, following the death of Judge Juan Rafael Torruella del Valle.
“I deeply regret the sad loss of Juan R. Torruella, who was a luminary of law and the federal judiciary. He stood out first as a judge in the United States District Court for the District of Puerto Rico, which he presided over from 1982 to 1984, and then as a judge in the Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, which he presided over from 1994 to 2001. He was appointed to the District Court by President Ford and to the Court of Appeals by President Reagan.
Judge Torruella also stood out as an athlete representing Puerto Rico in the Summer Olympics of 1964, 1968, 1972, and 1976 in the sport of sailing.
However, the greatest contribution that Judge Torruella made to Puerto Rico was to highlight the injustice and inequality of territorial nonincorporation, which he compared with the racial segregation of African Americans and the regime of apartheid in South Africa.
In his book The Supreme Court and Puerto Rico: The Doctrine of Separate and Unequal, which was published by the Editorial of the University of Puerto Rico in 1985, Judge Torruella analyzed the notorious Insular Cases that, despite having been decided by a segregationist Supreme Court at the beginning of the last century, still govern the political status of Puerto Rico . His book allowed us to understand not only the origin but also the dire effects that the doctrine of incorporation doctrine has had on the American citizens of Puerto Rico.
Judge Torruella passed away without the Supreme Court rectifying the grave injustice of a status that treats the American citizens of Puerto Rico separately and unequally. It is up to us to honor their brave denunciations at the polls, ”González Colón said in written statements.