Equally American Blog

  • Court Strikes Down Discrimination Against Residents of Puerto Rico in Key Federal Programs

    Today, a federal judge in the District Court of Puerto Rico ruled in Pena Martinez  v. US Department of Health and Human Services that the federal government’s exclusion of Puerto Rico residents from three major social  benefits programs is an unconstitutional violation of equal protection. This important ruling follows on the heels of the First Circuit Court of Appeals’ historic ruling in United States v. Vaello Madero earlier this year, which held that residents of Puerto Rico could not be excluded from Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and a similar decision in Schaller v. U.S. Social Security Administration, which ruled the denial of SSI benefits in Guam unconstitutional. The U.S. Supreme Court is likely to take up these issues, which impact nearly 4 million Americans living in five U.S. territories.

  • Congress Holds Historic Hearing on Territorial Voting Rights

    In an historic first, the House Administration Committee’s Subcommittee on Elections held a hearing today addressing the denial of voting rights in U.S. territories. Members of Congress representing the Virgin Islands, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Northern Mariana Islands all testified in support of expanding voting rights to include the nearly 4 million citizens who live in U.S. territories – 98% of whom are racial or ethnic minorities.

  • Congress to Hold Historic Hearing on Territorial Voting Rights

    On Tuesday, July 28, 2020, the House Administration Committee’s Subcommittee on Elections will hold a hearing to address the denial of voting rights in U.S. territories – an historic first. While Congress has regularly held hearings addressing issues of political status in U.S. territories, never before has it held a hearing focused specifically on the issue of voting rights and disenfranchisement in these areas.

  • Equally American Calls for Human Rights Commission to Examine Disenfranchisement in U.S. Territories and DC

    Equally American and DC Vote, along with co-sponsoring organizations, have requested a thematic hearing before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) on the denial of the right to political participation in U.S. territories and the District of Columbia. The request highlights the disenfranchisement of the nearly 5 million Americans living in DC and the Territories – more than 90% of whom are racial or ethnic minorities.

  • Judge Rules Excluding Guam Residents from SSI Benefits is Unconstitutional

    On Friday, a federal judge ruled in Schaller v. U.S. Social Security Administration that the exclusion of Guam residents from the federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits program for the blind, elderly, and disabled constitutes unconstitutional discrimination.  The decision, if upheld on appeal, would mean that Katrina Schaller, a resident of Guam who suffers from a debilitating genetic disorder, would receive the same federal SSI benefits as her twin sister, Leslie, who lives in Pennsylvania and receives $755/month in SSI payments. Leslie has filed a companion case in Pennsylvania, wanting to be able to visit her family on Guam for more than thirty days or move to Guam without loss of her benefits.

  • Equally American Calls on Congressional Leaders to Reject Insular Cases Following Supreme Court Inaction

    On Wednesday, the civil rights advocacy group Equally American urged Congressional leaders to take action to reject the Insular Cases after the Supreme Court failed to do so earlier this week in its decision upholding Puerto Rico’s undemocratic PROMESA Oversight Board.


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