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The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear a case that could have brought American Samoans full citizenship.
Justices turned away a petition filed by three American Samoans who are living in Utah and who argued that their designation as U.S. nationals rather than having birthright citizenship is a violation of the U.S. Constitution because it prevents them from exercising key rights like being able to vote, running for office, and holding certain jobs, Reuters reported.
Last year, however, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed with the Samoans, noting that the Constitution does not grant full citizenship to those who are born in U.S. territories like American Samoa, which is a small collection of islands located in the Pacific Oceans containing a population of around 50,000.
According to the 14th Amendment, “all persons born…in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States.” Constitutional experts noted that the language of the amendment does not include U.S. territories; had the amendment said “or subject to the jurisdiction thereof,” then it’s much more likely the Samoans would have had a case.
The Biden administration apparently agreed with that understanding, as Reuters added:
Beginning in 1901, the Supreme Court had rejected birthright citizenship for residents of U.S. territories in a series of rulings known as the “insular cases.” The court in some of those cases described people living in the territories as uncivilized and unamenable to Anglo-Saxon culture.
The Biden administration in an August brief told the Supreme Court that the insular cases were “indefensible and discredited,” but asked the court not to take the case because the text of the Constitution compelled the same result.
The government of American Samoa also asked the court not to take the case, saying its residents are divided over the citizenship issue and that it should be addressed through the political process and not in court.
The islands became a U.S. territory in 1900. Previously, Congress has decided, on a territory-by-territory basis, if those who are born in any of the five U.S. territories — Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands — qualified for birthright citizenship. American Samoa is the only other U.S. territory where residents are denied automatic citizenship.
Last week, President Joe Biden took a politically unhealthy potshot at the nation’s highest court, comparing it to an “advocacy group.”
Biden was taking part in a virtual fundraiser on Tuesday for Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, from his home state of Delaware, when he said the Supreme Court is “more of an advocacy group these days,” after it decided to end Roe v Wade, The Independent reported.
“I view this off-year election as one of the most important elections that I’ve been engaged in because a lot can change because the institutions have changed,” he said. “The Supreme Court is more of an advocacy group these days than it is… evenhanded about it.”
The court became more conservative when former President Donald Trump was able to add three justices, but that does not always work in favor of Republicans or the former president.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday rejected an emergency request from Trump to intervene in the dispute over classified documents seized from his Mar-a-Lago in August.
“The former president was seeking an order to return about 100 documents with classification markings to a review process a “special master” is conducting of more than 10,000 documents the FBI took during the Aug. 8 search of Trump’s home,” Politico reported.
“But no member of the court publicly signaled a willingness to grant emergency relief for Trump. The court also offered no explanation or rationale for declining Trump’s request, which would have allowed his attorneys the ability to review the most sensitive records the FBI obtained during their ongoing probe,” the outlet added.
Last week, an FBI supervisory special agent has filed a revised document in federal court altering the number of documents that the bureau seized from former President Donald Trump during an unprecedented raid on his home in Palm Beach, Fla., in August.
“The additional review and recount resulted in some minor revisions to the Detailed Property Inventory,” noted the agent, whose name was redacted. “I and FBI personnel working under my direction conducted an additional review and recount of the Seized materials in order to make this declaration.”