Document Type

Essay

Publication Date

2020

Disciplines

Criminal Law | Criminal Procedure | Fourteenth Amendment | International Relations | Law | Law and Politics | Legislation | Political Science

Abstract

For seventy years, Puerto Ricans have been bitterly divided over how to decolonize the island, a U.S. territory. Many favor Puerto Rico’s admission into statehood. But many others support a different kind of relationship with the United States: they believe that in 1952, Puerto Rico entered into a “compact” with the United States that transformed it from a territory into a “commonwealth,” and they insist that “commonwealth” status made Puerto Rico a separate sovereign in permanent union with the United States. Statehood supporters argue that there is no compact, nor should there be: it is neither constitutionally possible, nor desirable as a goal of self-determination. Without even acknowledging the existence of this debate, Justice Sotomayor recently declared the existence of the “compact” in a concurrence in a case in which no one raised it. By doing so, Justice Sotomayor took sides in the divisive political debate over Puerto Rico’s future.

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