Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Insular Cases: Constitutional experts assess the status of territories acquired in the Spanish–American War

On Feb. 19, Harvard Law School held a conference “Reconsidering Insular Cases,” to discuss the Insular Cases and the importance they continue to hold. moving through the past century with a panel on historical perspectives and lessons, a panel on contemporary issues regarding the territories, and one on the future status of Puerto Rico. mj

HARVARD LAW
By LANA BIRBRAIR
March 18, 2014
EL MORRO - Puerto Rico

The Constitutional struggle involved answering whether the United States can acquire territories and their peoples without ever making those territories into states—in short, whether the “Constitution follows the flag."
The Insular Cases eventually settled the question by holding that the newly acquired territories belonged to, but were not a part of, the United States. The cases created a distinction between incorporated and unincorporated territories that remains today.

Torruella delivered a keynote address focusing on the continued colonial relationship between the United States and Puerto Rico and advocating for a rejection of the Insular Cases as a representation of the thinking of a “morally bankrupt era” that failed to promote the basic notion that all citizens are equal before the law.