The second link is two a full screen version of the pdf of the decision.
Senior United States District Judge Clark Waddoups of the District of Utah declared that American Samoans are American Citizens by birth. Previously, they had been considered American Nationals. Waddoups reasoning was that since American Samoans owe allegiance to the United States and are born “subject to the Jurisdiction of the United States” all statutes denying them citizenship from birth are facially unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment.
Clark invoked Wong Kim Ark in his ruling.
If the Tenth Circuit upholds this on appeal, the Supreme Court will HAVE to take the case, as the D.C. Circuit previously came to the contrary conclusion, denying American Samoan’s birthright citizenship. The Supreme Court will be unable to ignore a circuit split on the basic issue of American Citizenship.
I fully support the findings of Judge Waddoups, I think the decision is fully correct and for the reasons he gave and I oppose the opposition conclusion the D.C. Circuit arrived at. Hopefully the Tenth Circuit upholds this and forces it to the Supreme Court.
Today, Judge Waddoups stayed his own decision pending appeal to the Tenth Circuit. The stay will likely remain in effect both during Tenth Circuit consideration and during Supreme Court consideration should it make it there.
Every other United States Territory, Puerto Rico, Northern Mariana Islands, Guam and the Virgin Islands has been granted an Organic Act and there residents are natural born citizen by law.
American Samoa has never been granted an Organic Act and Congress has never legislated on the status of its residents. Therefore, they have always have been considered United States Nationals, but not Citizens.
And because American Samoa has no Organic Act, the President of the United States holds full Executive, Legislative and Judicial power over the territory. Since Harry Truman, that power has been vested in the Secretary of the Interior. While American Samoa has been granted its own Constitution and for the most part governs itself, it does so purely by the Grace of the President of the United States. The President must formally assent to any act of the legislature.
However, it is clearly a fact that American Samoa is subject to the “jurisdiction of the United States” as are all its residents. So even though Congress has not legislated citizenship, clearly under the 14th Amendment they should be Citizens.
But the gist is that American Samoa and the United States Government have filed briefs at the Tenth Circuit in opposition to the ruling of Judge Waddoups, and support the status quo of non-citizenship.
The opposition of the American Samoan government is predicated on the idea that if full citizenship is granted, that Federal Courts will overturn many of the communal and clannish aspects of American Samoan life, including communal land ownership and restrictions on outsiders owning land.
Likely several months yet before the Tenth Circuit rules in this case.
The wishes of the government of American Samoa are NOT the final word, so long as American Samoa remains under the jurisdiction of the United States. The 14th Amendment dictates that anybody born “under the jurisdiction of the United States” is a citizen from birth.
THAT should be the final word on this matter.
If American Samoa does not want this outcome, they need to seek to change their relationship with the United States. They could petition Congress for independence, then seek a Free Association Compact with the United States. They would become a sovereign, independent nation, but would retain certain services and protection under a Free Association Compact.
But as long as the remain under the jurisdiction of the United States, the 14th Amendment applies.