US House urged to pass resolution condemning Insular Cases
By Pacific Island Times News Staff
Equally American and nine other civil rights groups are calling on House leadership to pass a bi-partisan House resolution that condemns the Insular Cases and their doctrine of “territorial incorporation.”
The House Resources Committee held a hearing on H.Res 279 last year. The resolution has received broad support, including from the chairs of both the House resources and judiciary committees, which encouraged its passage. House resolutions do not need to be voted out of committee before being voted on by the full House. Just two weeks of voting remain in the 117th Congress. “With the Supreme Court recently dodging two opportunities to overrule the Insular Cases, it is more important than ever for the House to make clear that the racist Insular Cases and the colonial framework they established should have no part in the United States today,” said Neil Weare, president and founder of Equally American, which advocates for equality and civil rights for residents of U.S. territories.
He noted that next year marks the 125th anniversary of the United States acquiring formal overseas colonies.
"So the time to act is now," Weare said. "This is some unfinished business that the House should pass before members of Congress leave for the holidays.”
The American Civil Liberties Union, along with nie other advocacy organizations, also, sent a letter urging Congress to pass H.R. 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 The group’s letter argues that a strong statement from the U.S. House of Representatives rejecting this "racist, outdated cases" will help sway the Supreme Court to finally confront the "race-based imperialist legacy these cases represent." “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," said Alejandro Ortiz, senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s Racial Justice Program.