HRLR 2022 Symposium

The Future of the Insular Cases

April 8, 2022

3–6 PM ET

RSVP by April 5 to attend in-person here:

Zoom Meeting ID: 940 9048 1924 | Passcode: 801301

The Insular Cases are a series of century-old, widely criticized cases that rest on indefensible racial biases and devised a new category of “unincorporated” territories to provide constitutional cover for ruling the populations of overseas territories without regard to traditional constitutional limits. Despite calls to overturn these cases, the Insular Cases remain good law today. On the 100th anniversary of the last of the Insular CasesBalzac v. Porto Rico (1922), and as the U.S. Supreme Court decides cases like Fitisemanu and Vaello-Madero, join the Columbia Human Rights Law Review as we engage our Special Issue authors on a discussions on the future of these cases which continue to have far-reaching consequences on the lives of the people of Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands, among others.

Thank you to our co-sponsors: Curtis, Kasowitz, Orrick, Equally American, and the Columbia Human Rights Institute.


Keynote Address: Lía Fiol-Matta, LatinoJustice

Panel: Moderated by Prof. Christina Ponsa-Kraus, including: 

  • Adriel Cepeda Derieux & Rafael Cox-Alomar, Saying What Everyone Knows to Be True: Why Stare Decisis Is Not an Obstacle to Overruling the Insular Cases 
  • Cesar Lopez-Morales, Making the Constitutional Case for Decolonization: Reclaiming the Original Meaning of the Territory Clause 
  • Emmanuel Hiram Arnaud, Llegaron los Federales: The Federal Government’s Prosecution of Local Criminal Activity in Puerto Rico 
  • Sam Erman, Status Manipulation and Spectral Sovereigns

Closing Remarks: Hermann Ferré, Supreme Court advocate in Vaello-Madero

Reception/Happy Hour (RSVP required) Refreshments and hors d’oeuvres will be served