A federal judge in Utah says American Samoans are U.S. citizens and that they should be granted U.S. passports.
Thursday's ruling comes in response to a 2018 lawsuit filed by American Samoans living in Utah. The lawsuit argues that the current "non-citizen nationals" status American Samoans hold closes off employment opportunities and voting rights. Unlike people born in other U.S. territories, people born in American Samoa do not receive U.S. citizenship at birth.
In the ruling, the judge wrote, "This court is not imposing 'citizenship by judicial fiat.' The action is required by the mandate of the Fourteenth Amendment as construed and applied by Supreme Court precedent."
Previously, the Supreme Court declined to hear a similar case in 2016. According to the court of appeals in that case, the Constitution does not confer citizenship on those born in the territory.