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New ‘friend of the court’ seeks to participate in support of citizenship for AS nationals

A new filing at the federal appeal’s court in Washington D.C. over the citizenship lawsuit appeal, reveals more details about U.S. based law professor Samuelu Erman, who last month filed a notice of his intention and asked the court to be allowed to participate as an ‘amicus curiae’, or friend of the court.


Last Friday, private attorney David Debold filed a request on behalf of Erman, who wants to participate in this case as an amicus curiae, saying the professor is supporting the five American Samoans and one California based Samoan organization, who are plaintiffs in the case, dismissed last year by the lower court.


In support of the motion, Erman contends the appeal involves the question of whether the Citizenship Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution extends to U.S. nationals born in American Samoa.


Erman says the lower court ruled last year that the Citizenship Clause does not guarantee birthright citizenship to American Samoans, and dismissed Plaintiffs’ claims.


According to the motion, Erman, who holds a PhD in American culture, is an Assistant Professor of Law at University of Southern California’s Gould School of Law. He has written extensively on various topics related to American citizenship and, like other professors and scholars who may join his proposed brief as additional amici, has special expertise that will assist the Court in resolving this case.


“A scholar of law and history, Professor Erman’s research focuses on questions of status and U.S. citizenship in the United States,” Debold said in the motion and noted that Erman’s current work examines conflicts over birthright in the Fourteenth Amendment and the invention of a status known as “U.S. noncitizen national” in the years following the 1898- 1899 U.S. annexations of Hawai‘i, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines.


Debold said Erman’s proposed brief will assist the Court in deciding the “ultimate legal issue in this case — whether persons born in American Samoa are United States citizens — by explaining the historical conception of jus soli citizenship in the United States, including how courts have traditionally viewed birthright citizenship, and how citizenship and nationality was conceptualized in the early days of the United States.”


 (According to Princeton University website , ‘jus soli’ —  is Latin ‘for right of the soil’ — and is commonly known as birthright citizenship.)


He notes, “This historical foundation will assist the court by explaining what the common conceptions of citizenship were before the ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment, demonstrating how those conceptions evolved after ratification, and putting the Fourteenth Amendment in its proper historical perspective.