University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Tuaua v. United States of America PB-DC-0006
Docket / Court 1:12-cv-01143 ( D.D.C. )
State/Territory District of Columbia
Case Type(s) Public Benefits / Government Services
Case Summary
On July 10, 2012, a group of American Samoans and the Samoan Federation of America filed this lawsuit in the D.C. Circuit Court. They sued the U.S. Department of State under the Federal Declaratory Judgment Act of 1934. The plaintiffs, represented by the Constitutional Accountability Center, asked ... read more >
On July 10, 2012, a group of American Samoans and the Samoan Federation of America filed this lawsuit in the D.C. Circuit Court. They sued the U.S. Department of State under the Federal Declaratory Judgment Act of 1934. The plaintiffs, represented by the Constitutional Accountability Center, asked the court for both declaratory and injunctive relief. Specifically, the plaintiffs claimed that their classification as "non-citizen nationals" instead of U.S. citizens was forbidden by the Citizenship Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and asked that they be given full citizen rights.

The plaintiffs argued that American Samoa, as within the limits and subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, should fall under the Citizenship Clause, i.e. all individuals born in the region should be granted full U.S. citizenship. As of 2015, American Samoans were classified as "non-citizen nationals," a designation which denied them the right to vote, the right to serve on a jury, and the ability to hold certain public sector positions.

On June 26, 2013, the Court (Judge Richard L. Leon) granted the defendants' motion to dismiss the case on the grounds that it failed to state a claim. 951 F. Supp. 2d 88 (D.D.C. 2013). The plaintiffs appealed this dismissal. The Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit considered their case but ultimately affirmed the Circuit Court decision and ruled in favor of the defendants on June 5, 2015.

The plaintiffs filed a motion for a rehearing en banc, but the motion was denied on October 2, 2015. However, the case has yet to be closed and further action may occur in the near future.

Allison Hight - 10/10/2015


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Discrimination-basis
Immigration status
National origin discrimination
National Origin/Ethnicity
Other
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Defendant(s) U.S. Department of State
Plaintiff Description Citizens of American Samoa
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted Moot
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief None
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing Yes
Docket(s)
1:12-cv-01143-RJL (D.D.C.) 04/23/2014
PB-DC-0006-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint 07/10/2012
PB-DC-0006-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion 06/26/2013 (951 F.Supp.2d 88) (D.D.C.)
PB-DC-0006-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion 06/05/2015 (788 F.3d 300)
PB-DC-0006-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Leon, Richard J. (D.D.C.)
PB-DC-0006-0002 | PB-DC-0006-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Ala'ilima, Charles (American Samoa)
PB-DC-0006-0001
Hussain, Murad (District of Columbia)
PB-DC-0006-0001 | PB-DC-0006-9000
Katerberg, Robert J (District of Columbia)
PB-DC-0006-0001 | PB-DC-0006-9000
Schaeffer, Judith Ellen (District of Columbia)
PB-DC-0006-0001 | PB-DC-0006-9000
Weare, Neil C. (District of Columbia)
PB-DC-0006-0001 | PB-DC-0006-9000
Wydra, Elizabeth B. (District of Columbia)
PB-DC-0006-0001 | PB-DC-0006-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Kelly, Wynne Patrick (District of Columbia)
PB-DC-0006-9000
Swain, Frank S. (District of Columbia)
PB-DC-0006-9000
Other Lawyers Locke, Elizabeth M. (Virginia)
PB-DC-0006-9000
Williams, Michael F. (District of Columbia)
PB-DC-0006-9000

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