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November 16, 2023

125 Years of Empire: Examining the Separate and Unequal Status of U.S. Territories

At the turn of the twentieth century, the United States transformed itself into an empire, acquiring overseas territories in the Caribbean and the Pacific. This program examines the ongoing legacy of the Insular Cases and how legal frameworks like the territorial "incorporation doctrine" have profoundly influenced the rule of law in U.S. territories. It then discusses recent Supreme Court decisions related to the arbitrary and unequal treatment of the residents of U.S. territories and Congress' role in addressing these constraints. 

Welcome Remarks

  • Mary L. Smith – President, American Bar Association; Vice Chair, VENG Group; Chair, Caroline and Ora Smith Foundation



  • Daniel Immerwahr – Bergen Evans Professor in the Humanities, Northwestern University; Author, How to Hide an Empire: A History of the Greater United States

Co-Sponsors: ABA Center for Public Interest Law, ABA Division for Public Education, ABA Section of State and Local Government Law, American Civil Liberties Union, Bar Association of Puerto Rico, Guam Bar Association, LatinoJustice PRLDEF, National Native American Bar Association, New York State Bar Association, Right to Democracy, Virgin Islands Bar Association


ABA Territories Engagement and Recommendations | Bruce Leal

Resolution and report of the New York State Bar Association Task Force on the U.S. Territories - First Task Force Report, November 2022

The Supreme Court 2022 Term Harvard Law Review, Vol. 137, No. 1 (November 2023)

The People v. Hate Campaign | National Association of Attorneys General

Introduction to “The Future of the Insular Cases” Special Issue | Lía Fiol-Matta
Columbia Human Rights Law Review Spring 2022

Enough with the Insular Cases! The Tragedy of Vaello Madero  | Lía Fiol-Matta
CUNY Law Review November 2022

The Scourge of the Insular Cases: Ending Constitutional Apartheid in Puerto Rico  | Lía Fiol-Matta
Co-authored with Francisca D. Fajana
Revista Jurídica Universidad de Puerto Rico October 2023

An Anomalous Status: Rights and Wrongs in America’s Territories October 2022, Fordham Law Review | Lía Fiol-Matta, Panelist: “The United States’ Colonies Problem”

When the Supreme Court Ignores Race-Based Inequities in Citizenship and Sovereignty for Puerto Ricans and Others Born in U.S. Territories, What Can be Done? | Lía Fiol-Matta
Law and Society Association Annual Meeting, June 2, 2023

The Insular Cases: It’s Time to Turn the Page Lía Fiol-Matta, Bloomberg Law, March 14, 2022

After Vaello Madero, the Fight Continues Lía Fiol-Matta, The Mother Court, Federal Bar Association of the Southern District of New York, Summer 2022

Indigenous Rights: A Pathway to End American Second-Class Citizenship | William J. Fife III & Beylul Solomon

Indigenous Rights: A Vehicle to Address Mental Health and Academic Outcomes in the CNMI | William J. Fife III & Beylul Solomon

VIDEO | Marianas participates in historic summit with territories

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