U.S. Supreme Court Denies To Hear Am. Samoa Citizenship Petition

In refusing case, SCOTUS reaffirms lower court decision denying birthright citizenship

By Fili Sagapolutele

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (The Samoa News, June 13, 2016) – The Supreme Court of the United States has denied a petition of ‘writ of certiorari’ from five American Samoans, who are plaintiffs in the US citizenship case against the federal government, according to online court records and the attorney representing American Samoa Government and Congresswoman Aumua Amata, who are intervenors in the case.

As previously reported by Samoa News, the highest court in the nation conferenced privately last week Thursday to consider the petition from the plaintiffs led by local resident Leneuoti F. Tuaua and includes a Samoan organization based in California.

Intervenors’ attorney Michael Williams had told Samoa News early this month that the Supreme Court was to consider whether to take the case or not with a decision released today.

Electronic court records on the case only state that the plaintiffs’ petition is “denied” today, June 13. A list of more than 50 cases  — including the Tuaua case in the citizenship lawsuit — in which certiorari petitions were before the Supreme Court, released this morning states that all these were denied.

No other information was immediately available this morning as to why the court denied the petition.

Denial of petition was released just after 3a.m. American Samoa time or 10am. Washington D.C. time.

Williams, who is with the Washington D.C. based law firm of Kirkland & Ellis LLP, told Samoa News not long after the decision was released that denial of the petition means the Supreme Court will not hear the case and that the decision of the Court of Appeals in Washington D.C. is final and the lawsuit is dismissed.

Neil Weare, one of the attorneys who argued for the plaintiffs in the lower court and in the appeals court, told Samoa News this morning that they will be issuing a news release soon and that they are “certainly disappointed in the result.”

The plaintiffs had urged the Supreme Court to grant their petition because the case “undisputedly presents a constitutional question of tremendous importance.” The plaintiffs maintain that because they are American Samoans, they are entitled to birth right US citizenship under the US Constitution.

However, the defendants, who are the State Department including the Secretary of State along with intervenors — have argued against granting the petition, saying that the lower court ruling (which was upheld by the appeals court) correctly stated that only the US Congress has authority to grant citizenship to outlying territories such as American Samoa.

The Samoa News
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