Federal judge rules American Samoans are US citizens by birth
A federal judge in Utah ruled Thursday that American Samoans are U.S. citizens at birth and should be given passports that reflect the fact, CNN reports.
“This court is not imposing ‘citizenship by judicial fiat.’ The action is required by the mandate of the Fourteenth Amendment as construed and applied by Supreme Court precedent,” U.S. District Court Judge Clark Waddoups wrote.
The Supreme Court in 2016 decline to hear a case from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in which the court ruled that the Constitution does not confer citizenship on those born in American Samoa.
The Utah District Court isn’t bound by the D.C. District Court ruling, which is why Waddoups was able to issue a different decision.
People born in other U.S. territories, including Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam and the Northern Marianas, are granted U.S. citizenship at birth. American Samoa, which became a U.S. territory in 1900, has long been the exception.
American Samoans who were residing in Utah brought the suit in 2018, arguing that being “non-citizen nationals” barred them from voting, as well as certain employment opportunities, according to CNN.
Additionally, their passports included a disclaimer that reads: “The bearer is a United States national and not a United States citizen,” the network reports.
The Hill has reached out to the Justice Department for comment.