Insular Cases

The Insular Cases are several U.S. Supreme Court cases concerning the status of territories acquired by the U.S. in the Spanish-American War (1898). The name "insular" derives from the fact that these territories are islands and were administered by the War Department's Bureau of Insular Affairs. The cases were in essence the court's response to a major issue of the 1900 presidential election and the American Anti-Imperialist League, summarized by the phrase "Does the Constitution follow the flag?" Essentially, the Supreme Court said that full constitutional rights did not automatically extend to all areas under American control. The "deepest ramification" of the Insular Cases is that inhabitants of unincorporated territories such as Puerto Rico, "even if they are U.S. citizens", may have no constitutional rights, such as to remain part of the United States if the United States chooses to engage in deannexation.

In 1898, the United States annexed Hawaii. Also during that year, the Treaty of Paris (which entered into force April 11, 1899) ended the Spanish American War and the United States gained the islands of the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and Guam. Additionally, Cuba remained under the jurisdiction of the United States Military Government until its independence on May 20, 1902. At the time, there was a debate on how to govern these new territories since nothing was said about it in the U.S. Constitution. In the Insular (i.e., island-related) Cases, the Supreme Court of the United States established the framework for applying the Constitution to these islands.

From 1901 to 1905, the U.S. Supreme Court in a series of opinions known as the Insular Cases held that the Constitution extended ex proprio vigore to the territories. However, the Court in these cases also established the doctrine of territorial incorporation. Under the same, the Constitution applied fully only in incorporated territories such as Alaska and Hawaii, whereas it applied only partially in the new unincorporated territories of Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines.

Read more about Insular CasesList of Insular Cases, Criticism

Other articles related to "insular cases, cases":

Political Status Of Puerto Rico - Background - The Insular Cases
... Supreme Court in what are collectively known as The Insular Cases ... However, the Court in these cases also established the doctrine of territorial incorporation ... Although other cases followed, strictly speaking the Insular Cases are the original six opinions issued concerning acquired territories as a result of the Treaty of Paris (1898) ...
Insular Cases - Criticism
... The decisions in the Insular Cases have not been without the dissenting voices of critics, among them distinguished scholars ... of the Puerto Rico Supreme Court José Trías Monge has stated that "The Insular Cases were based on premises that in today's world seem bizarre ... again noting that Puerto Ricans are United States citizens and that the Insular Cases are indeed questionable ...

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