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Procedural Victory in Case Over Whether Persons Born in American Samoa are Citizens

On February 4, the U.S. Court of Appeals rejected the federal government’s request that the lawsuit Tuaua v U.S.A. be summarily rejected. The issue is whether persons born in American Samoa are citizens by virtue of the Fourteenth Amendment, which says “All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United State.” Old U.S. Supreme Court precedents from 1901 say that clause does not relate to persons born in U.S. territories. Although Congress has passed laws granting automatic citizenship to the other U.S. overseas territories, Congress has never done that for Americans Samoans. They are only U.S. “nationals”, not citizens.

Persons born in American Samoa who live in one of the 50 states are therefore not able to register to vote, unless they undergo the naturalization process. Two of the plaintiffs live in one of the 50 states and would like to register to vote in those states.

The U.S. District Court in this case had rejected the case, but the U.S. Court of Appeals refused to summarily affirm the district court decision, and said the issues are not clear-cut, and the case deserves full briefing and, probably, an oral argument. The court order is only one page long and is signed by Judges David Tatel, Janice Rogers Brown, and Cornelia Pillard. Thanks to Rick Hasen for this news. Here is a link to a press release by the plaintiffs.

5 Responses

  1. Demo Rep

    How many colonies does the USA gerrymander regime have —

    with 3rd class *persons* — having NO constitutional rights ???

    What does the A.S. delegate in the gerrymander House of Reps do every day ???
    Demand independence for A.S. ???

  2. Demo Rep

    A bit more –

    The 1901 SCOTUS colony stuff is akin to the 1896 SCOTUS infamous racist segregation stuff was OK — (all part of the white man imperialist empire stuff in the late 1800s — setting the stage for the mass deaths in World War I in 1914-1918)

    overruled in 1954 Brown v. Bd of Ed.

  3. Mark Seidenberg

    Let’s look at the issue in the Republic of Panama. Persons born in the Republic of Panama to someone employed by the United States Government
    or the Panama Rail Road company are deemed United States Citizen by the
    terms of a 1937 Act of Congress, viz., a class naturalization Act of Congress. However, for that employee to pass citizenship to the child
    if it is only the father as an employee there most be a lawful marriage.

    This left out John McCain III, because is parents were never lawfully
    married.

    The issue of Samoa, Is a little different. Like Germany it was a divided
    state, until the reunification. Samoa has an Eastern Zone, viz., American Samoa and a Western Zone, viz., Western Samoa.

    It was based on an international agreement between Germany, Britain, and
    the United States of about 115 years ago. Germany got control of Western
    Samoa and Eastern Samoa went to the United States. Britain left the island group altogether.

    To grant full citizenship to the people of American Samoa, is just the same as granting collective citizenship to persons born in the soverign
    state of Samoa. That would take away their right to citizenship under the
    terms of furture state of Samoa.

    Sincerely, Mark Seidenberg

  4. Andrew

    One minor correction – there is no longer any such place as ‘Western Samoa’. It is called ‘Samoa’ – in the hope that at some point the US will withdraw from its colony there and the islands can be reunited.

    Having said that, it should be left to the population of American Samoa to determine where their future lies. At present, I suspect they’d chose the status quo but they are unlikely to be given the choice any time soon…

    • Mark Seidenberg

      Are you calling for the break up of American Samoa into its four historic parts or something different
      in its make-up. Remember one part is a guano island
      with non voting representation in that territory’s
      legislature?

      Sincerely, Mark Seidenberg
      Vice Chairman, American Independent Party

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