I’ve heard that recognizing citizenship for people born in American Samoa will expand the federal government’s powers in American Samoa, is this true?

A:

The Territorial Clause of the Constitution already empowers Congress “to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States.”  As a result, Congress has always had broad authority to legislate with respect to American Samoa, in areas including immigration, taxation, and many more.  This case seeks to limit Congress’s power over individuals born in the United States by asking the federal courts to recognize that a separate constitutional provision, the Citizenship Clause, takes away Congress’s power to deny citizenship to people born in American Samoa.  

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