ACLU, Advocacy Groups Call on Congress to Condemn the Insular Cases

December 1, 2022 12:15 pm

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — The American Civil Liberties Union, along with 9 other advocacy orgs, sent a letter today urging Congress to pass H.Res. 279 during what remains of the 117th Congress. The resolution presents an opportunity for Congress to formally condemn the Insular Cases, a line of Supreme Court cases that held residents of Puerto Rico, Guam, and other U.S. territories — the majority of whom are Indigenous and people of color — aren’t entitled to the same constitutional rights and protections as residents of the states.

The Supreme Court has repeatedly passed on opportunities to reconsider the Insular Cases, despite apparent interest among some of the justices. The group’s letter argues that a strong statement from the U.S. House of Representatives rejecting these racist, outdated cases will help sway the Supreme Court to finally confront the race-based imperialist legacy these cases represent.

Alejandro Ortiz, senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s Racial Justice Program, had the following comment:

“The Insular Cases still prevent millions of people living in U.S. territories and under U.S. control — who are overwhelmingly people of color — from accessing certain constitutional rights and protections they should be guaranteed. Congress must move quickly to condemn these racist, antiquated cases and pressure the Supreme Court to strike down the Insular Cases once and for all.”

The letter was signed by the ACLU, Ayuda Legal Puerto Rico, the Brennan Center for Justice, Demos, Equally American, Hispanic Federation, Lambda Legal, LatinoJusticePRLDEF, the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, and the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs.

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