11 Feb 2015

American Samoa battle over US citizenship continues

5:22 pm on 11 February 2015

Oral arguments have been heard in a Washington DC appeal in what has been dubbed a United States citizenship lawsuit brought by 8 people born in American Samoa.

The plaintiffs, who are all U.S. nationals, have argued the Citizenship Clause of the U.S. Constitution applies to persons born in American Samoa, and therefore they should have been given automatic citizenship.

Defendants, which include the State Department, disagree, arguing only Congress has the authority to grant U.S. citizenship to "outlying territories" such as American Samoa.

The case was dismissed in a lower court last year, prompting the appeal.

The plaintiffs have the backing of the American Samoa Government and the territory's US congresswoman Aumua Amata.