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Utah District Court Judge stays enforcement of ruling for citizenship

U.S. Federal District Court building Salt Lake City, Utah

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — US District Court Judge Clark Waddoups has issued a stay in enforcement of his Dec. 12th ruling which declared that persons born in American Samoa are US citizens by virtue of the Citizenship Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Waddoups, with the federal court in Salt Lake City, Utah, also ordered the US State Department to “issue new passports to Plaintiffs that do not disclaim their U.S. citizenship.”

Persons born in American Samoa are U.S. nationals, under federal law.

In a one-page, one-sentece order issued Friday, Dec. 13, Waddoups said, the “court stays its ruling pending resolution of the issue on appeal.”

The plaintiffs are three American Samoans - John Fitisemanu, Pale Tuli and Rosavita Tuli — who argued 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 reside in Utah.

Charles Alailima, one of the attorneys for the plaintiffs, told Samoa News on Friday, that the judge's order is common in these kinds of cases if the judge expects there will be an appeal.

Two US based attorneys, who are not part of this case but have followed it closely, echoed Alailima’s statement, saying also that this case, may go all the way to the US Supreme Court, just as was the case with the first citizenship lawsuit heard at the federal court in Washington D.C and appealled to the Supreme Court.

Samoa News notes that the D.C. federal court dismissed that citizenship case, and the plaintiffs’ appealed it in 2016 to the Supreme Court, which declined to hear the matter.

Latest update on this story in Monday’s edition.