Earlier this year, the We the People Project was established by Neal Weare and others, to advance voting rights and other basic constitutional rights for Americans who live in the overseas territories and the District of Columbia. The web page is www.equalrightsnow.org.
The Project is helping to represent several U.S. nationals who were born in American Samoa. They filed a lawsuit last year arguing that the U.S. Constitution guarantees that they be considered citizens. One of the plaintiffs, a Vietnam War Vet, now lives in the continental U.S. and cannot vote, because persons born in American Samoa are considered to be U.S. “Nationals”, not “citizens.” Residents of American Samoa do use U.S. passports.
On June 26, 2013, the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., upheld the government’s position, which is that the Constitution does not guarantee citizenship to persons born in unorganized territories. The decision relies on a series of U.S. Supreme Court decisions from 1901. The case is Tuaua v U.S.A., and will soon be in the U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit. Over the years, Congress has enacted laws saying that persons born in the other overseas territories are U.S. citizens, but Congress has never extended that to residents of American Samoa. American Samoa elects a Delegate to the U.S. House, and he has intervened in the case on the side of the federal government and against the plaintiffs. Thanks to Rick Hasen for this news.