I’ve heard that constitutional provisions like the Equal Protection Clause and the Due Process Clause don’t apply in American Samoa, and that is what allows for American Samoa’s land laws. Is that true?

A:

No. The High Court of American Samoa has long recognized that “the constitutional guarantees of due process and equal protection are fundamental rights which do apply in the Territory of American Samoa.” 1 Am Samoa 2d 11, 12 (1980), available here. Nonetheless, in Craddick v. Territorial Registrar, the High Court held that American Samoa’s communal land laws did not violate these constitutional protections, because of the “compelling historical and continuing interest in preserving the land and culture of the Samoan people.” Id. at 14.

Was this helpful?