Appeal planned in American Samoa citizenship lawsuit
American Samoan plaintiffs plan to appeal a federal 3-judge panel decision that US citizenship by birth on US territories, like American Samoa, is not a fundamental right. They plan to appeal to the full Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, consisting of 11 active judges. If judges decline, plaintiffs indicate going to US Supreme Court.
Following a federal three-judge panel’s decision that U.S. citizenship by birth in territories is not a “fundamental right,” plaintiffs in a birthright citizenship case will appeal for the case to be heard by a full panel, according to the attorney representing the case.
Attorney Neil Weare, who has Guam roots, is representing the plaintiffs, of American Samoa, in Tuaua v. United States.
In its ruling issued June 5, the three-judge panel in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled the Constitution does not extend birthright citizenship to the territories. The ruling stated that residents of American Samoa aren’t U.S. citizens, but instead “non-citizen nationals,” according to a press release issued by Weare, who is president and founder of ‘We the People Project’, which advocates for territorial rights.
The American Samoa plaintiffs are seeking to change that status.
In their decision, the judges referenced the controversial Insular Cases, which established U.S. territories’ relationship to the federal government, the press release states.
Using those cases, the judges wrote that birthright citizenship is not a “fundamental right” guaranteed by the Constitution.
Instead, they wrote, citizenship is extended to territories through legislation passed by Congress.
In a press statement issued earlier this week, Weare said he plans to appeal the decision to the full Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which consists of 11 active judges.
The judges aren’t obligated to hear Weare’s appeal.
A petition to have the case reheard by the full panel must be filed with the court by July 20, according to the press statement.
Weare said if the circuit judges decline to hear the case, the plaintiffs will decide whether to take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.
First posted by Pacific Daily News on 18 June 2015