3 Feb 2016

American Samoa citizenship case filed

12:39 pm on 3 February 2016

A case which argues the US Congress cannot legislate an exception to the citizenship clause in the US Constitution to exclude people born in American Samoa has been filed in the US Supreme court.

Tuaua versus the United States has been filed by the prominent Supreme Court attorney Theodore Olson on behalf of a group of passport holding Americans who were denied recognition as US citizens because they were born in American Samoa.

The Lead plaintiff Leneuaoti Tuaua is a US national, but not a US citizen.

He said as someone born on US soil who signed up for the draft during the Vietnam War, his family should not be treated as second-class Americans.

Tuaua is hopeful the Supreme Court will agree the Constitution does not allow Congress to create two separate classes of Americans.

Three of the five Tuaua plaintiffs are veterans.

American Samoa has among the highest rates of US military service in the country, with casualty rates in Iraq and Afghanistan more than seven times the national average.

Mr Olson said the text and history of the Citizenship Clause definitively show the Constitution's guarantee of birthright citizenship applies in States and Territories alike.

In 2008, Olson wrote a letter with Harvard Professor Laurence Tribe defending the eligibility of John McCain to run for President as a "natural-born citizen" based on his birth in a US possession, among other reasons.

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