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Tuaua, Judge Leon Decision Granting Motion to Dismiss (D.D.C)

Tuaua, Judge Leon Decision Granting Motion to Dismiss (D.D.C)

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Published by WethePeopleProject
Judge Leon opinion granting motion to dismiss

Tuaua v. United States is a federal lawsuit brought by Leneuoti Tuaua, the Samoan Federation of America, and others born in American Samoa who believe that so long as American Samoa is a part of the United States, people born in American Samoa have a right to U.S. citizenship under the Constitution.

Plaintiffs are represented by Neil Weare, President of We the People Project, a national organization dedicated to achieving equal rights and representation for the nearly 5 million Americans living in U.S. territories and the District of Columbia; Arnold & Porter, LLP, an international law firm; and Charles V. Ala'ilima, a prominent American Samoan attorney.
Judge Leon opinion granting motion to dismiss

Tuaua v. United States is a federal lawsuit brought by Leneuoti Tuaua, the Samoan Federation of America, and others born in American Samoa who believe that so long as American Samoa is a part of the United States, people born in American Samoa have a right to U.S. citizenship under the Constitution.

Plaintiffs are represented by Neil Weare, President of We the People Project, a national organization dedicated to achieving equal rights and representation for the nearly 5 million Americans living in U.S. territories and the District of Columbia; Arnold & Porter, LLP, an international law firm; and Charles V. Ala'ilima, a prominent American Samoan attorney.

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Published by: WethePeopleProject on Jun 27, 2013
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05/14/2014

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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE
DISTRICT
OF
COLUMBIALENEUOTI FIAFIA TUAUA, et al., )
)
Plaintiffs, )
)
v.
) Civil Case
No.
12-01143 (RJL)
)
UNITED STATES
OF
AMERICA, et al., )
)
Dekndanh.
)
MEMORA~OPINION
June2h_,
2013
[#
9]
Plaintiffs are five non-citizen U.S. nationals born in American Samoa and theSamoan Federation
of
America, a nonprofit organization serving the Samoan communityin Los Angeles. Compl.
~~
I 0-15.
1
They seek declaratory and injunctive relief againstdefendants, the United States and the related parties that execute its citizenship laws.
/d.
~~
16-19.
2
They assert that the Fourteenth Amendment's Citizenship Clause extends toAmerican Samoa and that people born in American Samoa are therefore U.S. citizens atbirth.
!d.
at 25-26. Plaintiffs also argue that Immigration and Naturalization Act §308(1) is unconstitutional because it provides that American Samoans are noncitizen U.S.nationals.
See
id.
at 26. Further, they ask the Court to hold that a State Departmentpolicy and practice are unconstitutional and invalid under the Administrative Procedure
1
The five individual plaintiffs are Leneuoti Fiafia Tuaua ("Tuaua"),
Va'aleama
ToviaFosi("FosP'), Fanuatanu Fauesala Lifa Mamea ("Mamea"), Taffy-Lei
T.
Maene("Maene"), and Emy Fiatala Afaleva ("Afaleva"). Mamea also brings his claims on
behalf
of
his three minor children.
!d.
~
12(a).
2
Defendants are the United States, the State Department, the Secretary
of
State, and theAssistant Secretary
of
State for Consular Affairs.
1
Case 1:12-cv-01143-RJL Document 24 Filed 06/26/13 Page 1 of 17
 
Act ("APA").
See
Compl. at 26. Underlying all
of
these claims
is
the same legalargument: the Citizenship Clause applies to American Samoa, so contrary law and policymust be invalidated. The United States and related parties move to dismiss plaintiffs'complaint pursuant to Federal Rule
of
Civil Procedure 12(b) for lack
of
subject-matterjurisdiction and failure to state a claim.
See
Mem.
of
P.
&
A.
in
Supp.
of
Defs.' Mot. toDismiss ("Defs.' Mem. ") [Dkt.
#
9]
at
1.
Because plaintiffs have failed to state a claimupon which relief can be granted, the Court GRANTS defendants' Motion to Dismiss.
BACKGROUND
American Samoa
is
located on the eastern islands
of
an
archipelago in the SouthPacific.
Compl.,
3.
The United States claimed this territory
in
a 1900 treaty with GreatBritain and Germany,
31
Stat. 1878, and Samoan leaders formally ceded sovereignty tothe United States in 1900 and 1904,45 Stat. 1253. American Samoa was administered bythe Secretary
ofthe
Navy until1951, when President Truman transferred administrativeresponsibility to American Samoa's current supervisor, the Secretary
of
the Interior.Exec. Order No. 10,264,
16
Fed. Reg. 6,417 (July
3,
1951).Over the past half-century, American Samoa has strengthened its ties to the UnitedStates. The Constitution
of
American Samoa was approved
by
the Secretary
of
theInterior
in
1967 and provides for
an
elected bicameral legislature,
an
appointed governor,and an independent judiciary.
Compl.,
27. In 1977, the Secretary permitted thegovernor to be selected by popular vote.
!d.
One year later, Congress voted to give
2
Case 1:12-cv-01143-RJL Document 24 Filed 06/26/13 Page 2 of 17
 
American Samoa a nonvoting delegate in the U.S. House
of
Representatives.
!d.
3
American Samoans have served in the U.S. military since 1900 and, most recently, in thewars in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
!d.
~
31. In signing the 1978 legislation grantingAmerican Samoa a delegate in Congress, President Carter acknowledged the islands'contributions to American sports and culture and their role as
"a
permanent part
of
American political life." Jimmy Carter, Presidential Statement on Signing H.R.
13
702into
Law
(Oct. 31, 1978),
cited
in
Pis.' Mem.
ofP.
&
A. in
Opp'n
to
Gov't's
Mot.Dismiss ("Pis.'
Opp'n")
[Dkt.
#
18]
at 5
n.
7.
At the same time, however, American Samoa has endeavored to preserve itstraditional way
of
life known as
fa
'a
Samoa.
Indeed, its constitution protects the Samoantradition
of
communal ownership
of
ancestral lands by large, extended families:
It
shall be the policy
of
the Government
of
American Samoa to protect persons
of
Samoan ancestry against alienation
of
their lands and the destruction
of
theSamoan way
of
life and language, contrary to their best interests. Such legislationas may be necessary may be enacted to protect the lands, customs, culture, andtraditional Samoan family organization
of
persons
of
Samoan ancestry, and toencourage business enterprises by such persons. No change in the law respectingthe alienation or transfer
of
land or any interest therein, shall be effective unlessthe same be approved by two successive legislatures by a two-thirds vote
of
theentire membership
of
each house and by the Governor.Rev. Const.
of
Am. Samoa art.
I,
§
3;
see also Craddick
v.
Territorial Registrar,
1 Am.Samoa 2d 11,
12
(1980); Amicus Br. at 4-5. American Samoans take pride in theirunique political and cultural practices, and they celebrate its history free from conquest orinvoluntary annexation by foreign powers. Amicus Br. at 3.
3
The current delegate, Eni F.
H.
Faleomavaega, appears as Amicus Curiae in this caseopposing the plaintiffs' suit.
See generally
Br.
of
the Hon. Eni F.H. Faleomavaega asAmicus Curiae in Supp.
ofDefs.
("Amicus Br.") [Dkt.
#
12].3
Case 1:12-cv-01143-RJL Document 24 Filed 06/26/13 Page 3 of 17

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