A resolution that calls for the equal treatment for 4 million Americans in Guam and other insular areas has been introduced in the House.

House Resolution 641 acknowledges the history of colonialism in Guam and other insular areas and calls for the House of Representatives to reject Insular Cases that have allowed Congress to perpetuate what the resolution’s authors call the unequal treatment of insular areas.

The Insular Cases are a series of opinions by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1901, about the status of U.S. territories acquired in the Spanish-American War.

Congressman Raul Grijalva, Arizona; Rep. Jennifer González-Colón, Puerto Rico; Rep. Gregorio Kilili Sablan of CNMI; Rep. Stacey E. Plaskett, Virgin Islands; and Guam’s Rep. Michael San Nicolas submitted H.R. 641 on Oct. 18.

The resolution says that “the decisions rendered by the United States Supreme Court in the so-called Insular Cases rest on the same racist and ethnocentric assumptions leading to Plessy v. Ferguson’s infamous ‘separate but equal’ doctrine” and, therefore, “the legal doctrine emanating from the Insular Cases has no place in United States Constitutional law, and that the Insular Cases must be rejected in their entirety.”

The resolution makes note of the wars and treaties of previous centuries that led to the current political status of Guam, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

It states, in part, “the doctrine established by the Insular Cases is still used to perpetuate the egregious unequal treatment of United States citizens and nationals in the territories (and) jurists and legal scholars have recognized that the Insular Cases rest on reasoning that runs afoul the original intent of the framers of the United States Constitution (and) the imperialist and racist ideologies underlying the Insular Cases must be rejected.”

The resolution calls for the House to:

• recognize the importance of supporting equal rights and upholding the interests of Americans living in the United States territories;

• acknowledge that the Insular Cases rest on racist and imperialist assumptions that have no place in the constitutional landscape of the United States; and

• reject the Insular Cases and their application to all present and future cases and controversies.


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