A collection of Equally American's work in the news.  For all media requests, please contact West End Strategy at InsularCases [at] westendstrategy.com and Equally American's President, Neil Weare, at nweare [at] equallyamerican.org.

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WNYC's The Takeaway, April 9, 2018
Neil Weare, civil rights attorney for Equally American and lead attorney on the lawsuit, explains why he believes the citizenship issue to be guaranteed by the Constitution, and lays out the basic arguments the plaintiffs are making.

Los Angeles Times, Ann Simmonds, April 6, 2018
A lawsuit filed in Utah last month against the State Department and former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson seeks to change the American Samoans' status from noncitizen U.S. nationals to citizens.

Slate, Mark Joseph Stern, March 30, 2018
It’s unsurprising to the see the Trump administration ignore everyone born in American Samoa; the Justice Department has already taken an aggressive stance against the voting rights of territorial residents. But the administration will soon have to settle on a coherent defense of American Samoans’ legal status: On Tuesday, Equally American, a territorial rights nonprofit, filed a federal lawsuit challenging the federal government’s refusal to extend birthright citizenship to those born in the territory.

Harvard Law Review, Neil Weare, March 28, 2018

It is long-past time that the Insular Cases be placed in the dustbin of history alongside other racially motivated decisions like Plessy and Dred Scott. But to get there, we must rally the same kind of energy and resources that led to the Supreme Court’s historic decision in Brown. As history shows, change does not just happen on its own.

Southern California Public Radio, Aaron Mendelson, March 28, 2018

A lawsuit filed in Utah Tuesday seeks citizenship for people born in American Samoa — a change that would be felt in Southern California's sizable Samoan community.

Associated Press, Sophia Yan, March 28, 2018

John Fitisemanu, and others who were born in American Samoa, are asking the court in Salt Lake City for citizenship under the 14th Amendment of the Constitution, which grants citizenship at birth to anyone born in the United States.

McClatchy News Service, February 8, 2017

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. 

ACSblog, July 18, 2016
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.
Constitution Daily, Lyle Denniston, June 17, 2016

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.

The Atlantic, Garrett Epps, June 16, 2016
Imperialism has left tricky sovereignty questions with which the U.S. Supreme Court is only now reckoning.
The Detroit News, Dennis Lennox, June 16, 2016
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.
Southern California Public Radio, Leslie Berestein Rojas, June 15, 2016
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.
The Atlantic, Vann R. Newkirk II, June 14, 2016
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.
Mother Jones, Pema Levy, June 13, 2016
The American Samoans seeking citizenship hoped the court would overturn earlier rulings based on racist old case law.
CNN.com, Tal Kopan, June 13, 2016
"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."
LA Times, David Savage, June 9, 2016
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.
New York Times, Christina Duffy Ponsa, June 8, 2016
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.
Slate.com, Mark Joseph Stern, June 6, 2016
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?
National Law Journal, Marcia Coyle, May 31, 2016
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.
Mother Jones, Pema Levy, May 27, 2016
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."
The Atlantic, Vann R. Newkirk II, March 30, 2016
A crop of court cases could change the relationship between the United States and its territories.
Bloomberg View, Noah Feldman, March 13, 2016
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.
SCOTUSblog, Lyle Denniston, March 8, 2016
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.
Bloomberg View, Noah Feldman, March 9, 2016
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 Atlantic, December 20, 2015, by Garrett Epps
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.
Constitution Daily, December 15, 2015, by Lyle Denniston
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.
Huffington Post, November 11, 2015, by Neil Weare
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.
US News & World Report, August 24, 2015, by Steven Nelson

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.

Orlando Sentinel, April 14, 2015, by Congressperson Pedro Pierluisi, Madeleine Bordallo, Gregorio Sablan, & Stacey Plaskett
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.
VoiceWaves Long Beach, March 11, 2015, Michael Lozano
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.
Mother Jones, February 23, 2015, by Pema Levy
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.
A Short Film by the Stateless Voices Project, February 8, 2015

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.

Just Security, February 4, 2015, by Steve Vladeck
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. 
NBCnews.com, October 13, 2014, by Moises Mendoza
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.
PBS, America By the Numbers, with Maria Hinojosa, Oct. 11, 2014
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.
CNN.com, February 19, 2014, by Neil Weare
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.
HuffPost Live, Legalese It with @MikeSacksHP, August 23, 2013
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.



Wall Street Journal, July 13, 2012
by Ashby Jones

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

Local News

KUAM, November 12, 2015
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.
VI Consortium, November 12, 2015
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
Pacific Daily News, November 12, 2015
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.
Pacific Daily News Editorial, March 22, 2015
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.
Virgin Islands Daily News, January 23, 2015, by Semaj Johnson
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. 
Pacific Daily News, July 4th, 2014, Editorial
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.
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