17 Dec 2015

American Samoans seeking US citizenship file an appeal

8:07 am on 17 December 2015

Five American Samoans seeking US citizenship have taken their case to the Supreme Court of the United States.

Last year the federal district court in Washington DC denied the plaintiffs' lawsuit, saying people born in American Samoa are not guaranteed US citizenship under provisions of the Constitution.

In June this year the appellate court upheld the lower court's decision, saying that only Congress can designate US citizenship status to outlying territories, such as American Samoa.

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Photo: 123RF

Under federal law, people born in American Samoa are considered US nationals, not citizens.

The main question the plaintiffs want answered is whether the US Congress has the power to switch the Constitution's guarantee of birthright citizenship on and off in US territories.

A decision by the Supreme Court on whether it will take up the case is expected by June.