Constitutional Citizenship; Statutory Citizenship; U.S. Territories; American Samoa; Fourteenth Amendment; Insular Cases; Citizenship Clause; Immigration; Supreme Court; Tenth Circuit; Democracy; Territorial Autonomy; Naturalization; Fitisemanu


In 2019, the District of Utah in Fitisemanu v. United States rejected the Insular Cases and held that persons born in American Samoa acquired Fourteenth Amendment constitutional citizenship at birth. The Tenth Circuit reversed through an analysis that attempted to “repurpose” the Insular Cases. This Essay discusses the differing concepts of citizenship presented in Fitisemanu, which raise significant questions about the nature and import of American constitutional citizenship. The Supreme Court’s recent denial of certiorari in Fitisemanu unfortunately leaves these questions unresolved, further continuing the second-class status of individuals born in the territories and underscores the uncertainty of their futures.