National Civil Rights Groups Urge House to Pass Resolution Condemning Insular Cases

Equally American and nine other civil rights groups are calling on House Leadership to pass a bi-partisan House Resolution that condemns the racist Insular Cases and their doctrine of “territorial incorporation.” The House Resources Committee held a hearing on H.Res 279 last year. The Resolution has received broad support, including from the Chairs of both the House Resources and House Judiciary Committees who are encouraging its passage. House resolutions do not need to be voted out of committee before being voted on by the full House. Just two weeks of voting remain in the 117th Congress.

Photo: Fuller Court that Decided Insular Cases 

“With the Supreme Court recently dodging two opportunities to overrule the Insular Cases, it is more important than ever for the House to make clear that the racist Insular Cases and the colonial framework they established should have no part in the United States today,” said Neil Weare, President and Founder of Equally American, which advocates for equality and civil rights for residents of U.S. territories. “Next year marks the 125th anniversary of the United States acquiring formal overseas colonies, so the time to act is now. This is some unfinished business that the House should pass before Members of Congress leave for the holidays.”

H.Res. 279 has sixteen co-sponsors, including Northern Mariana Islands Congressman Gregorio Kilili Sablan (D), Virgin Islands Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett (D), Puerto Rican Congresswoman Jenniffer González-Colón(R-PR), and Guam Congressman Congressman Michael F.Q. San Nicholas (D). Other Members of Congress of Puerto Rican descent who are sponsoring the resolution include Nydia Velasquez (D-NY-7), Darren Soto (D-FL-9), Jesus G. "Chuy" Garcia (D-IL-4), and Ritchie Torres (D-NY-15).

The New York State Bar Association - which this year established a Task Force on U.S. Territories - also recently wrote Speaker Nancy Pelosi calling on her to support bringing H.Res. 279 to a vote on the floor. 

For additional information, see ACLU’s press release below.

ACLU, Advocacy Groups Call on Congress to Condemn the Insular Cases


December 1, 2022


Eva Lopez, ACLU, [email protected]

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The American Civil Liberties Union, along with 9 other advocacy orgs, sent a letter today urging Congress to pass H.Res. 279 during what remains of the 117th Congress. The resolution presents an opportunity for Congress to formally condemn the Insular Cases, a line of Supreme Court cases that held residents of Puerto Rico, Guam, and other U.S. territories — the majority of whom are Indigenous and people of color — aren’t entitled to the same constitutional rights and protections as residents of the states.

The Supreme Court has repeatedly passed on opportunities to reconsider the Insular Cases, despite apparent interest among some of the justices. The group’s letter argues that a strong statement from the U.S. House of Representatives rejecting these racist, outdated cases will help sway the Supreme Court to finally confront the race-based imperialist legacy these cases represent.

Alejandro Ortiz, senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s Racial Justice Program, had the following comment:

“The Insular Cases still prevent millions of people living in U.S. territories and under U.S. control — who are overwhelmingly people of color — from accessing certain constitutional rights and protections they should be guaranteed. Congress must move quickly to condemn these racist, antiquated cases and pressure the Supreme Court to strike down the Insular Cases once and for all.”

The letter was signed by the ACLU, Ayuda Legal Puerto Rico, the Brennan Center for Justice, Demos, Equally American, Hispanic Federation, Lambda Legal, LatinoJusticePRLDEF, the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, and the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs.

The letter can be found online here:

This release can be found online here:

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published this page in Equally American Blog 2022-12-01 12:44:47 -0500