U.S. Given More Time To Reply To American Samoa Lawsuit

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Plaintiffs sue to obtain U.S. citizenship

By Fili Sagapolutele

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (The Samoa News, Sept. 23, 2012) – US District Court Judge Richard J. Leon as granted the State Department’s request for a month's extension to reply to the citizenship lawsuit led by Leneuoti F. Tuaua and five individuals and a Samoan organization based in California.

Defendants in the case are the State Department, Hillary Rodham Clinton, in her official capacity as Secretary of State, and Janice L. Jacobs, in her official capacity as Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs.

Representing the defendants is Assistant US Attorney Wynne P. Kelly, who filed last week a motion with the federal court in Washington DC for a time extension to file the defense reply, which was due Sept. 17.

Wynne requested the deadline to respond to the claim be extended to Oct. 17.

Since being served with the complaint on July 16 this year, the US Attorney’s Office has worked diligently with State Department legal counsel to analyze Plaintiffs’ claims, said Wynne.

Due to the complexity of the issues raised and due in part to recent interruptions to regular operations at the State Department, defendants require additional time to fully respond to Plaintiffs’ complaint, said Wynne, who didn’t elaborate on "recent interruptions".

The lawsuit seeks a declaratory judgement that the Citizenship Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution applies throughout the United States, including American Samoa. According to the suit, Citizenship Clause provides: "All persons born… in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States..."

The plaintiffs were born in American Samoa, "Therefore, they are US citizens by virtue of the Citizenship Clause."

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