A collection of We the People Project's work in the news. For all media requests, please contact We the People Project's President, Neil Weare, at nweare [at] equalrightsnow.org.
A group of military veterans living in Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands are crowd-funding their appeal to challenge federal voting laws that deny U.S. citizens living in the territories the ability to vote in presidential elections.
By leaving the D.C. Circuit’s decision wholly intact, and by relying upon the Insular Cases’ mentality in one of its merits decisions, the Supreme Court’s October 2015 Term may, among other things, represent an enormous missed opportunity on the Justices’ part to right one of the Court’s more egregious historical wrongs.
A more direct test of the continuing effect of the Insular Cases came in a case taken to the Justices by a group of individuals born in American Samoa, and seeking “birthright citizenship” under the Fourteenth Amendment. Legal and political science professors had joined them in urging the court to overturn the Insular Cases as out of date, given modern human rights understandings.
Imperialism has left tricky sovereignty questions with which the U.S. Supreme Court is only now reckoning.
American Samoa is the one territory where Americans aren’t even citizens. They are U.S. nationals, a third-class status that requires them to immigrate if they move to the mainland, despite living under the stars and stripes, carrying U.S. passports and proudly defending the rights and liberties denied to them as separate and unequal Americans.
American Samoans seeking U.S. citizenship are taking stock after the U.S. Supreme Court declined Monday to hear their case to be recognized as U.S. citizens at birth.
A ruling in Puerto Rico v. Franklin California Tax-Free Trust and a denial of review for Tuaua v. United States on Monday effectively ended a budding theory of self-determination in these areas and confirmed a federal legal view of territories that was established during the height of American imperialism.
The American Samoans seeking citizenship hoped the court would overturn earlier rulings based on racist old case law.
"The real significance of this morning's denial of review has everything to do with the continuing relevance of the Insular cases," Vladeck said. "Despite wide-ranging criticisms that those rulings reflect an outdated, if not racist, approach to constitutional protections in the territories, the court of appeals extended their reasoning to also apply to birthright citizenship, and the Supreme Court today left that ruling intact."
Claiming they have been relegated to second-class status, some American Samoans are asking the Supreme Court to correct a historic wrong and overturn a century-old law that denies them the right to be U.S. citizens at birth.
How is it possible that a question as basic as who is a citizen at birth under our Constitution remains unresolved in a place subject to the sovereignty of the United States? To understand, you have to dive into the muck that is the law of the United States territories.
Soon, the Supreme Court will decide whether to take a case of astounding constitutional importance. Its outcome could alter the rules governing citizenship, equal protection, and the power of the federal government. And it centers around a tiny chain of islands that you probably cannot find on a map. The question: Can Congress decide that an entire group of Americans—born in America, raised in America, allegiant to America—does not deserve United States citizenship?
Before the justices adjourn for the summer, they may consider whether to grant review next term in Tuaua v. United States. Lene Tuaua, four others born in American Samoa and the Samoan Federation of America ask the high court whether the Constitution’s citizenship clause entitles persons born in American Samoa—a U.S. territory—to birthright citizenship.
American Samoans are the only people born on US soil who are denied birthright citizenship. Five people from the island territory are suing the federal government, arguing that this deprivation violates the 14th Amendment's guarantee of birthright citizenship to "[a]ll persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof."
A crop of court cases could change the relationship between the United States and its territories.
Although the Supreme Court doesn’t ordinarily take cases to correct the errors of courts below, this case should be an exception. The most fundamental constitutional rights are at stake -- and the D.C. Circuit panel’s opinion almost certainly got the law wrong.
The Supreme Court will have an opportunity, if it is interested, to spell out further what the early twentieth-century Insular Cases mean. It has pending (but has not yet granted review in) a case testing, under the Insular Cases precedents, whether people born in the U.S. territory of American Samoa have a right to “birthright U.S. citizenship” under the Fourteenth Amendment.
It still isn’t automatic that every constitutional right applies in Puerto Rico. That’s bizarre, constitutionally speaking. Either Puerto Rico should be independent and have its own constitution, or the whole U.S. Constitution should apply there.
The U.S. Supreme Court struggles to stretch a Constitution written for 13 coastal states to encompass non-contiguous states, dependent nations, insular areas, and a commonwealth.
Lyle Denniston, the National Constitution Center’s constitutional literacy adviser, looks at a petition on its way to the Supreme about birthright citizenship for American Samoans.
On Veterans Day in 2015, it is a national embarrassment that more than 150,000 veterans living in U.S. territories will be denied the right to vote for their Commander-in-Chief next November.
Attention-commanding billionaire Donald Trump and the Obama administration agree: The 14th Amendment does not grant birthright citizenship to everyone born in the U.S. They do not, of course, agree on the details.
In his speech last month commemorating the 50th anniversary of the civil-rights marches from Selma to Montgomery, Ala., President Obama described the right to vote as the "foundation stone of our democracy." For Americans living in the U.S. territories, these stirring words ring hollow.
Although American Samoa has been a U.S territory for over a hundred years, being born there does not come with the same privileges as being born in the United States.
Well, this is awkward. This month, five people from American Samoa—the only place in the world where babies born on US soil are denied US citizenship—argued in federal court that the government's refusal to grant them birthright citizenship violates the Constitution. On the other side of the case is the Obama administration.
When the United States colonized American Samoa at the beginning of the 20th century it left the locals with no citizenship at all. Today American Samoans are considered to be U.S. “nationals” but not citizens.
The specific question in Tuaua v. United States is elegantly simple: Are individuals born in American Samoa–a U.S. territory–entitled to American citizenship under the plain language of the Citizenship Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Johnny Siliga, 52, holds up his US passport at his home in Carson, California. Because he was born in American Samoa, Siliga is considered a US "national" but not a citizen with basic rights such as voting.
The men and women of Guam are American citizens and serve in our country’s military at a rate three times higher than the rest of the country. We look at issues of political disenfranchisement and explore why Guam’s returning veterans say they can’t get the healthcare they need.
Although the Constitution grants Congress broad powers in U.S. territories, one that it clearly withholds is the power to rewrite the 14th Amendment's guarantee of birthright citizenship. Denying citizenship in American Samoa is not just unfair, it's unconstitutional. Read more.
Mike Sacks interviews We the People Project President Neil Weare and asks - if someone is born in a US territory excluding the 50 states, does he or she have a constitutional right to birthright citizenship? Watch.
Everyone born in a U.S. state or territory automatically gets U.S. citizenship—unless one happens to be born in American Samoa. Read more
Good enough to risk their life defending democracy but not good enough to vote for their commander-in-chief? It's a question asked by veterans just as a federal lawsuit is filed pushing for a constitutional amendment to vote for president to all Americans, wherever they live.
Six citizens from three territories owned by the United States of America — the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Guam — have filed a lawsuit that, if successful, would see residents from the respective territories having the right to vote for the president of the United States
As the lead plaintiff in a new voting-rights lawsuit, Luis Segovia and five other individuals are challenging federal and state voting laws that have denied U.S. citizens living in the territories the ability to vote in presidential elections.
To fulfill its promise of being a government is that it is of, for and by the people, our national leaders must end the voting discrimination for Americans who live in Guam and the other territories.
During Tuesday night’s State of the Union address, the President pushed Congress to restore key provisions of the 1965 Act and highlighted that in 2015, the “sacred” right to vote is still “being denied to too many.” Today, 119,000 Virgin Islanders live in the shadow of this disenfranchised number.
The United States was founded on the principles of equal rights for all, and that everyone should have the right to participate in their government, including being able to vote for those who represent them in public office. It's wrong for the leading democracy in the world to continue to deny basic voting rights to citizens based on where they live. Read more.