Cowboys and Indians Revisit the Federal Realm
The recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that the U.S. Constitution does not require Congress to extend Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits to residents of Puerto Rico, more than an act of territorial discrimination, reaffirmed the island’s status and brought to the fore its perpetual colonial subjugation. It is a painful reminder that the federal government—in all its branches—is ultimately unwilling to bring the old colony into the federal fold.
The ruling has convinced some observers that Puerto Rico could be on the verge of a coming change of status, with the controversy opening the door to a future repeal of the Insular Cases, the series of Supreme Court decisions establishing that the territories taken from Spain in the 1898 Spanish-American War—Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines—might finally become a part of, “not appurtenant to,” the United States. Do not count on it anytime soon. Here is why.
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