Wednesday, December 8, 2021
Hawai'i Free Press

Current Articles | Archives

Thursday, September 24, 2020
Federal Appeals Court hears American Samoa Citizenship Case
By Court House News @ 8:07 AM :: 1374 Views :: National News

US Asks 10th Circuit to Preserve Non-Citizen Status for American Samoa

by Amanda Pamuro, Court House News, September 23, 2020 

(CN) — The United States asked the 10th Circuit on Wednesday to examine American Samoa’s political relationship with the United States and overturn a lower court’s ruling that determined those born in the Pacific Islands are in fact American citizens.

American Samoa has been a U.S. territory since 1900 and has the highest rate of military service in the U.S. Those born in the cluster of Polynesian islands 2,500 miles southwest of Hawaii, however, are American nationals — not citizens. They cannot vote or run for office in the incorporated U.S. or hold certain government jobs.  

The government of American Samoa argued his arrangement preserves the islanders’ traditional way of life, or fa’a Samoa, including communal property ownership which would be impossible to protect under the U.S. Constitution.

American Samoa was unique from other U.S. territories Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands where persons become citizens at birth. That is until George W. Bush-appointed U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups in the District of Utah made history on Dec. 12, 2019, by ruling American Samoans should no longer be denied birthright citizenship.

“Right now the American Samoa people have a degree of self-determination and would like a say in a way that protects their culture,” attorney Michael Williams of Washington firm Kirkland & Ellis told the 10th Circuit panel. “At the same time, individuals from American Samoans not only have a path to citizenship, but a glide path to citizenship, they have an expedited path to citizenship if they leave American Samoa and reside in a state of the union.”

Williams referred to the Philippines and the Federated States of Micronesia, as well as the Marianas which negotiated their own terms with the U.S.

“It is for Congress to determine whether and under what circumstances individuals born in American Samoa and other territories become citizens,” argued Department of Justice attorney Brad Hinshelwood.

“It would really be a pretty dramatic shift between our understanding of the relationship between the United States and the territories to hold that after all this time everyone born in the Philippines for 50 years was in fact a U.S. citizen and no one knew it,” he added.

Following the Spanish American War, the Philippines were also a territory of the U.S. from 1898 until 1946.

Nevertheless, attorney Matthew McGill, of the Washington D.C. firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher called his client, John Fitisemanu a modern-day Dred Scott, “a citizen of nowhere.”

Born in American Samoa, on U.S. soil in 1965, Fitisemanu built his life in Utah and works in the health care industry. He pays federal, state and local taxes and sent his four children to Utah public schools. He holds a U.S. passport that is imprinted with a code that labels him as a “non-citizen national.”

“The United States is asking you to embrace the very most indefensible aspects of the insular cases that birthright citizenship could not possibly apply to people born on ‘an unknown island peopled with an uncivilized race,’” McGill said. “If the citizenship clause does not apply to the territories then a person naturalized in the territories would be not guaranteed citizenship in the incorporated states either.”

U.S. Circuit Judge Carlos Lucero, appointed by Bill Clinton, appeared most concerned about whether the people of American Samoa had a voice and were being heard.

“Do the citizens of territories under which occupancy has occurred by the United States have no say so as to their citizenship?” Lucero asked. “Here you’re saying the citizens at the time of succession had no choice, and I have a pretty harsh position to take if they don’t want citizenship.”

McGill said citizenship arose once the American flag went up.

“The only question is whether territories are part of the United States for the purpose of the citizenship clause,” McGill said. “The central purpose of the citizenship clause was to remove the question of birthright citizenship from the realm of politics. We had just fought a war of unimaginable bloodshed, over who would be a citizen in our polity and whether dissenters could leave, so the reconstruction congress was clear.”

Chief U.S. Circuit Judge Timothy Tymkovich, appointed by George W. Bush and U.S. Circuit Judge Robert Bacharach, a Barack Obama appointee, rounded out the panel. They did not indicate when or how they would decide the case.

Sixty-two viewers tuned into the hearing held remotely due to the Covid-19 pandemic and broadcast live by the 10th Circuit on Youtube.

---30---

Background:

Links

TEXT "follow HawaiiFreePress" to 40404

Register to Vote

2aHawaii

808 Silent Majority

ACA Signups Hawaii

Alliance Defending Freedom

Aloha Pregnancy Care Center

American Council of Trustees and Alumni

AntiPlanner

Antonio Gramsci Reading List

A Place for Women in Waipio

Astronomy Hawaii

Back da Blue Hawaii

Ballotpedia Hawaii

Better Hawaii

Broken Trust

Build More Hawaiian Homes Working Group

ChinaTownWatch.com

Christian Homeschoolers of Hawaii

Cliff Slater's Second Opinion

DVids Hawaii

FIRE

Fix Oahu!

Frontline: The Fixers

Genetic Literacy Project

Grassroot Institute

Habele.org

Hawaii Aquarium Fish Report

Hawaii Aviation Preservation Society

Hawaii Catholic TV

Hawaii Christian Coalition

Hawaii Cigar Association

Hawaii Coalition Against Legalized Gambling

Hawaii ConCon Info

Hawaii Credit Union Watch

Hawaii Crop Improvement Association

Hawaii Debt Clock

Hawaii Defense Foundation

Hawaii Family Advocates

Hawaii Family Forum

Hawaii Farmers and Ranchers United

Hawaii Farmer's Daughter

Hawaii Federalist Society

Hawaii Federation of Republican Women

Hawaii Future Project

Hawaii Gathering of Eagles

Hawaii History Blog

Hawaii Homeschool Association

Hawaii Jihadi Trial

Hawaii Legal News

Hawaii Life Alliance

Hawaii March for Life

Hawaii's Partnership for Appropriate & Compassionate Care

Hawaii Public Charter School Network

Hawaii Rifle Association

Hawaii Shippers Council

Hawaii Smokers Alliance

Hawaii State Data Lab

Hawaii Together

HIEC.Coop

HiFiCo

Hiram Fong Papers

Homeschool Legal Defense Hawaii

Honolulu Navy League

Honolulu Traffic

House Minority Blog

Imua TMT

Inouye-Kwock, NYT 1992

Inside the Nature Conservancy

Inverse Condemnation

Investigative Project on Terrorism

July 4 in Hawaii

Kakaako Cares

Keep Hawaii's Heroes

Land and Power in Hawaii

Legislative Committee Analysis Tool

Lessons in Firearm Education

Lingle Years

Malulani Foundation

Managed Care Matters -- Hawaii

Malama Pregnancy Center of Maui

Mauna Kea Recreational Users Group

MentalIllnessPolicy.org

Military Home Educators' Network Oahu

Missile Defense Advocacy

MIS Veterans Hawaii

NAMI Hawaii

Natatorium.org

National Christian Foundation Hawaii

National Parents Org Hawaii

NFIB Hawaii News

No GMO Means No Aloha

Not Dead Yet, Hawaii

NRA-ILA Hawaii

Oahu Alternative Transport

Obookiah

OHA Lies

Opt Out Today

OurFutureHawaii.com

Patients Rights Council Hawaii

PEACE Hawaii

People vs Machine

Pritchett Cartoons

Pro-GMO Hawaii

P.U.E.O.

RailRipoff.com

Rental by Owner Awareness Assn

ReRoute the Rail

Research Institute for Hawaii USA

Rick Hamada Show

RJ Rummel

Robotics Organizing Committee

Save Dillingham Airfield

School Choice in Hawaii

SenatorFong.com

Sink the Jones Act

Statehood for Guam

Tax Foundation of Hawaii

The Real Hanabusa

Time Out Honolulu

Trustee Akina KWO Columns

UCC Truths

US Tax Foundation Hawaii Info

VAREP Honolulu

Waagey.org

West Maui Taxpayers Association

What Natalie Thinks

Whole Life Hawaii

Yes2TMT