Plaintiffs in Utah citizenship lawsuit claim ASG & Amata’s intervention not timely
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Three US nationals who filed a US citizenship lawsuit at the federal court in Salt Lake City, Utah have revealed that they had consented to the American Samoa Government and Congresswoman Aumua Amata filing a timely amicus brief — or friends of the court brief — but not a “flawed motion to intervene” which should be denied, according to court filings.
The Movants — ASG and the Congresswoman — on June 8 asked the court to be allowed to intervene in the citizenship lawsuit filed in March this year by three American Samoans — John Fitisemanu, Pale Tuli and Rosavita Tuli — who argue that because they were born in American Samoa, a US territory, they are entitled to citizenship under the 14th Amendment, the Citizenship clause of the US Constitution.
However, the plaintiffs, which include an organization based in Utah, on June 22, asked the court to deny the motion to intervene, arguing that the defendants — which include the US State Department — can properly represent American Samoa’s interest.
In it’s 17-page motion filed last Friday to deny the Movants request to intervene, the plaintiffs outlined four-detailed specific arguments, including that ASG and the Congresswoman lack standing to intervene in this litigation (See Samoa News June 25 edition on ‘lack of standing’ issue).
NO RIGHT TO INTERVENE
The plaintiffs argue that Movants have no right to intervene in the case, saying that the Movants — in their June 8 motion — concede that no statute provides them with that right, relying solely on their purported “interest” in “the subject matter of this litigation.”
Plaintiffs contend that Movants have no interest in the actual “property or transaction” at issue in this case, which includes the passports or citizenship status of three Utahans.
They argued that Movants’ “generalized interest” in the “subject matter of this litigation,” that is, the abstract “question of Samoan citizenship,” cannot give them (Movants) a right to intervene.
The other interests Movants assert are similarly insufficient, according to plaintiffs. Movants’ belief that this case might implicate fa’a Samoa cannot suffice, because it is “wholly remote and speculative.”
Furthermore, Movants “do not seriously attempt to explain how their interests are inadequately represented” in this litigation.
“Movants cannot rebut the presumption that the United States will adequately represent their interests,” according to the plaintiffs, who noted that the U.S has the “exclusive sovereignty over... American Samoa.”
Additionally, Movants didn’t explain how their “interest would be impaired if this Court declares that three Utahans are citizens.”
“This Court should deny ‘intervention as of right’ both because Movants lack any sufficient interest that will be impaired by this suit and because the interest Movants assert are soundly represented by the United States,” the plaintiffs said.
The plaintiffs’ describe the Movants motion to intervene as a “permissive intervention” and should be denied, arguing that ASG and the Congresswoman “assert no ‘claim or defense that shares with the main action on a common question of law or fact’,” as cited in federal law.
“Contending that they believe Plaintiffs’ claims against the United States and its officers lack merit is not asserting a ‘claim or defense’ on Movants’ part,” they further argued.
Another reason for denying Movants request, say the plaintiffs, is that they “filed a procedurally defective Motion [because] it is unclear what effect Movants attempt to intervene will ultimately have.”
“If Movants are planning to file a dispositive motion or opposition to Plaintiffs’ summary judgment motion — in which Movants have not informed the Court or Plaintiffs whether they intend to do so — then allowing them to intervene will ‘unduly delay’ this suit,” the plaintiffs said.
“Movants have known about this litigation for months and had ample time to prepare a brief,” according to plaintiffs, who cited national news media reports about the case when it was first filed in March “They should not be permitted to delay this suit through their failure to do so.”
“Movants’ interests are adequately represented by the United States, which is a sufficient ground for denying permissive intervention,” plaintiffs argued.
“Even if Movants had standing and either a right to intervene or satisfied the standards for permissive intervention, the Court should still deny their Motion as procedurally defective,” plaintiffs said citing federal court procedures.
“For good reason, when someone attempts to parachute into court proceedings and claim party status, their motion ‘must . . . be accompanied by a pleading that sets out the claim or defense for which intervention is sought’,” said plaintiffs emphasizing federal rules.
“This requirement ensures notice to the actual parties of what the intervenor intends on doing to their lawsuit and also ensures that the proceedings are not unnecessarily delayed,” they said.
According to plaintiffs, the Movants, represented by sophisticated counsel, failed to file a pleading with their Motion despite being on actual notice of the litigation for months.
“Movants cannot plausibly claim that there is no prejudice here on the ground that Plaintiffs are ‘well aware of the movants’ arguments’ from other litigation,” said plaintiffs, referring to the Tuaua citizenship lawsuit litigation more than two years ago, which was dismissed by a federal court in Washington D.C. and the decision was upheld by a federal appeals court.
“To be clear, Plaintiffs consented to Movants’ filing of a timely amicus brief, which would have enabled Movants to present their ‘unique perspective’ on this suit,” plaintiffs said. “But Movants elected not to do so, filing only a substantively and procedurally flawed motion to intervene, which should be denied.”