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Citizenship plaintiffs ask Fed appeal’s court to deny affirmation of decision

Plaintiffs in the citizenship lawsuit have asked the federal appeals court in Washington D.C. to deny a motion by the U.S. government to affirm a lower court’s decision, which dismissed the lawsuit.


Assistant U.S. Attorney, Wynne P. Kelly, representing the U.S. State Department, the federal government, and two officials of the U.S. State Department had last month asked the appeals court to affirm a lower court's decision, which held that Citizenship Clause “did not guarantee birthright citizenship” to the plaintiff-appellants based on the plain language of the Constitution.


In their 19-page response this week, the five American Samoans and a Samoan organization based in California say they oppose an affirmation, arguing that this case presents the first opportunity for any appellate court to consider whether people born in the current and long-held U.S. territory of American Samoa are U.S. citizens by virtue of the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee that “[a]ll persons born . . . in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States” based on a provision of the U.S. Constitution.


“Whether Congress has the power to limit the geographic scope of the Citizenship Clause to exclude persons born in any U.S. territory – let alone a current and long-held territory – remains an open question before the Supreme Court and this Circuit,” they argued.


“For this reason alone, this appeal is inappropriate for summary disposition and warrants a full briefing on the merits,” the motion states.


The federal government, supported by Congressman Faleomavaega Eni has argued that only Congress has the authority to grant rights to persons born in U.S. territory to be U.S. citizens. For example, other U.S. territories were given specific designation by Congress to become U.S. citizens.