Unlike the recent suggestions of President Donald Trump, you cannot end birthright citizenship with an executive order. Or even a bill in Congress. So says the Constitution. But don’t trust this president or the next Congress to necessarily agree with the plain meaning of these words. Or future federal officials. Or even the federal courts. Because unbeknownst to most Americans, for more than a century all three branches of government have perpetuated an unconstitutional denial of birthright citizenship. On Wednesday, the Trump administration will appear in federal court to defend the ability of the political branches to unilaterally restrict the Constitution’s guarantee of birthright citizenship. No, it will not be to defend an executive order or congressional statute denying citizenship to U.S.-born children of unauthorized immigrants. Rather, in Fitisemanu v. United States, the administration is defending the unconstitutional denial of birthright citizenship in U.S. territories before the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah. Many assume that the overwhelming bipartisan consensus condemning the constitutionality of Trump’s plan to restrict birthright citizenship by executive order or congressional statute makes such plans dead on arrival. Simply put, the original understanding of the Citizenship Clause requires recognizing all born on U.S. soil as citizens (the only narrow exceptions are for the children of foreign diplomats, enemy soldiers, or certain Indian tribes). An unbroken line of Supreme Court precedent agrees.
The Supreme Court on Monday left in place a lower-court ruling preserving American Samoa’s status as the only overseas U.S. territory without birthright U.S. citizenship, rejecting a legal challenge aimed at making people born there automatic citizens. The justices declined to hear an appeal of a 2015 ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that went against five American Samoans led by Leneuoti Tuaua arguing for birthright citizenship. The Obama administration and the U.S. South Pacific territory’s government favor keeping the status quo. The people of American Samoa are considered noncitizen U.S. nationals, a status that denies them the full rights of American citizenship. The territory has a population of roughly 55,000.
American Samoa: American Samoans demand Supreme Court finally grant them full citizenship | Los Angeles Times
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. Unlike children born in all the states and the other U.S. territories such as Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, the newborns of American Samoans do not become automatic U.S. citizens. They are instead deemed as “nationals” who owe their allegiance to the United States, but lack the rights as citizens to vote, to serve as officers in the military or hold top government posts. The Carson-based Samoan Federation of America is asking the justices to take up its claim that the Constitution’s 14th Amendment promises citizenship to all persons born on U.S. soil. “We’re proud of the United States, and we want to be recognized as part of it,” said federation President Loa Pele Faletogo, 71, a military veteran living in Carson. “I see young men and women who go to war to fight for the United States. They are willing to die for a country that is not fully theirs and for a nation that doesn’t fully accept them as citizens.”
The circumstances of the birth of Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz put constitutional citizenship into the headlines. Also in the news: A federal judge in Puerto Rico ruled last week that the U.S. Supreme Court’s gay-marriage decision doesn’t follow the flag to the island. What would happen if you mashed the two issues together, mixing birthright citizenship with the Constitution’s applicability to U.S. territories? The answer to this otherwise random-seeming question is in fact before the Supreme Court right now. At issue is whether it’s constitutional for Congress to deny birthright citizenship to people born in American Samoa, which has been a U.S. territory since 1900. In June, a conservative panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit upheld the congressional rule, which uniquely applies to American Samoa and no other U.S. territory. Now the Samoan-born plaintiffs are asking the Supreme Court to review the D.C. Circuit’s decision — and asking Congress to change the rules.
American Samoa: How Many Delegates Does American Samoa Get? The US Territory Gets A Say In The 2016 Primaries, Too | Bustle
Super Tuesday is the biggest voting day of primary season. A total of 14 states and territories will cast their votes on March 1st, and it’s a diverse roster: Texas, Vermont, Georgia, Colorado and Oklahoma are amongst the states that will head to the polls on Super Tuesday. And then there’s American Samoa, the tiny US territory 2,500 miles from Hawaii that will also hold a caucus on March 1st. How many delegates does American Samoa get? In the Democratic contest, American Samoa gets 10 delegates. Six of them are regular pledged delegates, while the other four are superdelegates who can vote for whomever they please at the national convention over the summer. Republicans in American Samoa will select a candidate on March 22nd, with nine delegates at play.
The case for birthright citizenship for individuals born in U.S. territories, Tuaua v. United States, could be decided by the Supreme Court. Attorneys filed a petition for writ of certiorari Monday last week requesting that the Supreme Court review the decision of a lower court denying citizenship to people born in American Samoa. “Our goal is for the Supreme Court to recognize that citizenship is a constitutional right, not a mere congressional privilege, for the millions of Americans born in U.S. territories,” Neil Weare, president and founder of We the People Project, a nonprofit advocacy organization for Americans in U.S. territories, told NBC News. In June 2015, the District of Columbia Circuit Court ruled that the citizenship clause of the 14th Amendment was “ambiguous” as to whether birthright citizenship was guaranteed in overseas U.S. territories.
A former Guam resident advocating for citizenship rights of American Samoans on Monday asked the full D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to review an earlier decision that said birthright citizenship isn’t a right guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution. In June, a panel of judges decided that citizenship isn’t a “fundamental right” for territorial residents. The case challenges the status of those born in the U.S. territory of American Samoa. Residents there are considered “non-citizen nationals,” which doesn’t carry all the rights and responsibilities of U.S. citizens.
A U.S. appeals court on Friday ruled against a group of American Samoans who had argued that those born in the U.S. territory in the South Pacific should be eligible for U.S. citizenship at birth. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, noting that both the U.S. government and the government in American Samoa opposed the campaign, rejected the legal challenge made by named plaintiff Leneuoti Fiafia Tuaua and seven others. Writing on behalf of a three-judge panel, Judge Janice Rogers Brown said the court was sympathetic to the claim, but reluctant to “impose citizenship by judicial fiat – where doing so requires us to override the democratic prerogatives of the American Samoan people themselves.”
American Samoa: Former territorial Senate president Moliga elected governor in special election | The Republic
Voters in American Samoa have elected former territorial Senate President Lolo Matalasi Moliga to be their governor. The special election was required after none of the six candidates in the Nov. 6 general election received a majority of the vote. Moliga received 53 percent of the ballots, or just over 6,600 votes, in Tuesday’s election. Lt. Gov. Faoa Aitofele Sunia won 47 percent. “This victory is not our victory but the people of American Samoa’s victory,” Moliga told supporters at his campaign headquarters. He said his campaign motto “People First” will remain throughout his term in office.
What do you get when 50 or so Republicans gather in a restaurant-bar? In American Samoa, you get a presidential caucus. The U.S. territory, located about 2,300 miles south of Hawaii, gets its chance Tuesday to choose delegates to the Republican National Convention and vote on a presidential candidate. It’s a decidedly local affair. Republicans will meet at Toa Bar & Grill. The six delegates picked at the caucus will join three American Samoa “superdelegates” at the convention.