The Republican National Committee approved on Friday a resolution affirming equal citizenship for all Americans. The resolution was tailored to the United States territories of Puerto Rico, Guam, the Virgin Islands and the Northern Mariana Islands.
“All American citizens, regardless of their sex, race, color, ethnicity, religion or creed, are entitled to the full enjoyment of their citizenship,” the resolution stated.
In the resolution, the Republican National Committee (RNC) called on Congress “to ensure that American citizens residing in the territories of Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands have unfettered enjoyment of their American citizenship, including the second Amendment of the United States Constitution.”
The resolution took the additional step of adding that the RNC “favors that the political status or lack thereof, of the territories of Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands be justly resolved.”
This sentiment is consistent with the 2016 Republican Party platform position on Puerto Rico’s status, which supported “the right of the United States citizens of Puerto Rico to be admitted to the Union as a fully sovereign state.”
“American citizens residing in foreign states are afforded more enjoyment of their rights as citizens of the United Sates of American than the American citizens residing in the territories of Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands,” the resolution added.
The U.S. Constitution permits only states – not territories – to cast votes in the Electoral College, so any American citizen from the 50 states who establishes residency in Puerto Rico loses his or her right to vote for President. Similarly, Puerto Ricans serving in the military abroad cannot vote in absentee for their Commander in Chief, but state-based members of their troops can.
The RNC resolution singles out with disapproval the Insular Cases, a series of Supreme Court decisions issued in the early 1900s that permit unequal treatment of U.S. citizens in territories. “The Insular Cases are based upon the racist, segregationist legal doctrine of Plessy v. Ferguson,” the resolution points out.
Although Plessy v. Ferguson – which upheld racial segregation laws under the doctrine of “separate but equal” – was overturned by the 1954 Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education, the Insular Cases remain law. “[T]he Republican National Committee repudiates the so-called Insular Cases, which are rooted in the same racist, segregationist legal doctrine as Plessy v. Ferguson,” states the resolution.
The resolution is to be sent to President Trump, Department of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT), Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chair Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and the governors of the four territories mentioned in the text.