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Tuaua - Opposition to Motion for Summary Affirmance (and Exhibits)

Tuaua - Opposition to Motion for Summary Affirmance (and Exhibits)

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Published by WethePeopleProject
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.
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 Jan 10, 2014
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09/24/2014

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UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALSFOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA CIRCUIT
LENEUOTI F. TUAUA,
 et al.
,Plaintiffs-Appellants,v.UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
 et al.
,Defendants-Appellees.Case No: 13-5272
PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS’ OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES’ MOTION FOR SUMMARY AFFIRMANCE
Plaintiffs-Appellants Leneuoti F. Tuaua; Va’Aleama T. Fosi; Fanuatanu F.L. Mamea, on his own behalf and on behalf of his minor children, M.F.M., L.C.M.,and E.T.M.; Taffy-Lei T. Maene; Emy F. Afalava; and Samoan Federation of America, Inc. (collectively, “Appellants”), respectfully submit this opposition toDefendants-Appellees’ Motion for Summary Affirmance (“Motion”).This case presents the first opportunity for any appellate court to consider whether people born in the current and long-held U.S. territory of American Samoaare U.S. citizens by virtue of the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee that “[a]ll persons born . . . in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, arecitizens of the United States.U.S. Const. amend. XIV, § 1, cl.1. AmericanSamoa has been a part of the United States for 113 years. Nonetheless, Appellants – three of whom are veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces – are labeled by federal
USCA Case #13-5272 Document #1467627 Filed: 11/22/2013 Page 1 of 19
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2statute with an inferior status as “nationals, but not citizens, of the United States.”8 U.S.C. § 1408(1). Whether Congress has the power to limit the geographicscope of the Citizenship Clause to exclude persons born in any U.S. territory – letalone a current and long-held territory – remains an open question before theSupreme Court and this Circuit. For this reason alone, this appeal is inappropriatefor summary disposition and warrants a full briefing on the merits.Contrary to the claim by Defendants-Appellees (collectively, “theGovernment”), the merits of this appeal are also not “so clear as to make summaryaffirmance proper.” Mot. at 2. The text, history, and the Supreme Court’sinterpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment establishes that the Constitution’sguarantee of birthright citizenship extends throughout the territorial limits of theUnited States, including American Samoa. The Government’s Motion reliesheavily on labeling American Samoa an “unincorporated territory.” But even tothe extent that such a label matters, this Circuit’s precedent requires a remand for afact-based determination about whether recognizing the right at issue would be“impractical and anomalous” in the context of “the situation as it exists inAmerican Samoa today.”
 King v. Morton
, 520 F.2d 1140, 1147 (D.C. Cir. 1975).The bar for summary disposition is high. “A party seeking summarydisposition bears the heavy burden of establishing that the merits of his case are soclear that expedited action is justified.”
 Taxpayers Watchdog, Inc. v. Stanley
, 819
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3F.2d 294, 297-98 (D.C. Cir. 1987). The Government’s Motion falls far short of meeting its heavy burden and should be denied.
I. Summary Disposition Is Inappropriate Because Appellants PresentIssues of First Impression for This Court.
This case does not qualify for summary disposition. Issues of firstimpression are “not appropriate for summary disposition.”
 Am. Petroleum Inst. v.U.S. E.P.A.
, 72 F.3d 907, 914 (D.C. Cir. 1996);
 see also
 D.C. Cir. Handbook of Practice and Internal Procedures 36 (2011) (“Parties should avoid requestingsummary disposition of issues of first impression for the Court.”). Even theDistrict Court recognized that Appellants’ claims present “truly novel, interestingand difficult questions.Oral Arg. Tr. (Dec. 17, 2012) at 50:12,
 Tuaua v. United States
, No. 12-CV-1143 (D.D.C.) (“Tr.”) (excerpts attached hereto as Exhibit A).In response to the Government’s argument that Appellants’ claims wereunprecedented, the District Court stated, “Well, we get a lot of cases of first impression around here.”
 Id.
 at 6:13-14.At each opportunity, the District Court invited additional briefing andconsideration, not less. Although the District Court does not “hear arguments onmuch more than 10 percent of the motions [it] get[s] in this court,” Tr. at 50:10-11,here it entertained 70 minutes of oral argument, including 30 minutes for each of the parties and 10 minutes for 
 amicus curiae
. The District Court even took theunusual step of inviting
 amicus
 to file a reply brief. Far from supporting truncating
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