US courts, DOJ asked to retire 'racist' Insular Cases doctrine

Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.), chairman of the Natural Resources Committee, has introduced a bipartisan resolution rejecting the early 20th century U.S. Supreme Court decisions referred to as the Insular Cases.

The resolution argues that these cases rely on a racist, Plessy-era doctrine of “separate and unequal” to establish the relationship between the United States and its territories, made clear by the inclusion of deeply offensive language such as “alien races” and “people with an uncivilized race” when referring to the people living in U.S. territories.

House Resolution 279 is co-sponsored by Rep. Gregorio Sablan (D-CNMI), Rep. Stacey Plaskett (D-USVI), Rep. Michael San Nicolas (D-Guam), Rep. Jenniffer González-Colon (R-P.R.), Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.), Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García (D-Ill.) and Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-N.Y.)

The resolution calls on the courts, the U.S. Department of Justice, and other litigants to reject any continued reliance on the Insular Cases in present and future cases, noting that the "racially grounded holdings in the Insular Cases are contrary to the text and history of the Constitution and have no modern relevance."