The Evolving Definition of the Puerto Rican “Commonwealth”

The Enactment of the Commonwealth Constitution:  The Confusion Begins Puerto Rico is often called a commonwealth, but “Commonwealth” is actually just a word in the formal name of its insular government.   In 1950, the Federal government authorized Puerto Rico to draft a local constitution for Federal approval (Public Law 81-600), specifying that any new local autonomy would… Read more »

An Issue for all Americans: Puerto Rican Self-Determination

Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States.  Its residents are United States citizens, but they have no voting rights or representation in the government that makes and implements their national laws, and they are not treated equally in federal programs.  This unequal treatment violates the most basic principles of equal citizenship in the… Read more »

Puerto Rico: A Territory of the United States

The legal foundation of Puerto Rico’s status within the United States can be found in Article IV, Section 3, Clause 2 of the United States Constitution, commonly known as the “Territory Clause” — “The Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging… Read more »

George HW Bush’s First State of the Union Address (1989(

Delivered on February 9, 1989 Mr. Speaker, Mr. President, and distinguished Members of the House and Senate, honored guests, and fellow citizens: Less than 3 weeks ago, I joined you on the West Front of this very building and, looking over the monuments to our proud past, offered you my hand in filling the next… Read more »

Puerto Rico is a Territory of the United States

The legal foundation of Puerto Rico’s status within the United States can be found in Article IV,  Section 3, Clause 2 of the United States Constitution, commonly known as the “Territorial Clause”  —  “The Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging… Read more »

“Commonwealth” is Unconstitutional

In 1998, the Popular Democratic Party (PDP) of Puerto Rico (not affiliated with the Democratic Party of the U.S.) adopted a blueprint for a new relationship between the United States and Puerto Rico.  This plan, which was re-endorsed in the Party’s platforms in 2000 and 2004, by resolutions of its Governing Board in 2009 and… Read more »

The Origin of the “Commonwealth” Label

Puerto Rico is often called “a commonwealth” but “Commonwealth” is actually just a part of its formal government title.   Four States (Virginia, Massachusetts, Kentucky and Pennsylvania) and another territory (the Northern Mariana Islands) also label themselves “Commonwealth”s in their constitutions. In 1950, the Federal government authorized Puerto Rico to draft a local constitution for Federal approval… Read more »

Can a Puerto Rican Become President Of The United States?

The answer to this broad question is, “maybe yes and maybe no.” As “statutory citizens,” the nearly four million Americans born in Puerto Rico might not be considered “natural born,” a Constitutional requirement to become President of the United States. Let’s look at a few cases!