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Fed court to hear arguments next month on citizenship case

Congresswoman Aumua Amata

Salt Lake City, UTAH — The federal court in Salt Lake City, Utah has scheduled for early next month a hearing to hear oral arguments on a joint request by the American Samoa Government and Congresswoman Aumua Amata to intervene in the US citizenship case.

Court records show the hearing before US District Court Judge, Clark Waddoups is set for 3 pm on Sept. 6.

ASG and the Congresswoman on June 8 asked the court to allow them to intervene in the citizenship lawsuit filed 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.

The plaintiffs, who are all residents of Utah, on June 22 asked the court to deny the Movants’ motion to intervene, citing four-detailed specific arguments including that the motion is “procedurally defective”.

In response, ASG and the Congresswoman maintain that as the Territory’s elected representatives, they “are best situated to represent the American Samoan interest in self-determination” and “have a direct interest” in the lawsuit.

Federal defendants in the case include the US Secretary of State and the US State Department, who have asked the court to dismiss the case, arguing that it's the US Congress that has the authority to grant citizenship to persons born in US territories.

Plaintiffs disagree, arguing in the latest round of many court filings for this particular case, that the “text, structure, history, purpose, and relevant case law interpreting the Citizenship Clause uniformly point in one direction—American Samoa is ‘in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof’.”

“Plaintiffs were born in American Samoa and are therefore citizens of the United States,” according to the plaintiffs’ legal team.