Civil Rights: Puerto Rico and United States
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In March 2, 1917, the Jones Act was approved granting U.S. citizenship to people born in P.R. and providing the residents of P.R. with a “Charter of Rights.” That Bill of Rights included inter ...
In March 2, 1917, the Jones Act was approved granting U.S. citizenship to people born in P.R. and providing the residents of P.R. with a “Charter of Rights.” That Bill of Rights included inter alia the “due process” of law when a citizen's life, liberty or property are violated; the right to “Habeas Corpus”; prohibition of ex post facto laws; the just compensation for expropriated property; the right to bail; the right to be innocent until proven guilty; the right to freedom of speech and press; and numerous other provisions under the Constitution of the United Together. In 1948, the U.S. Supreme Court expressed in Foley Brothers Inc. v. Filardo, 336 U.S. 281, that it was a well-established principle of law that all federal legislation applies only within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States unless a contrary intent appears. It was later established that P.R. was to be subject to the Congress’ plenary powers under the “territorial clause” of Article IV, sec. 3, of the U.S. Constitution and that due to the establishment of the Federal Relations Act of 1950 all federal laws that are “not locally inapplicable” were to be automatically the law of the land in P.R.
In 1951, the U.S. Congress approved Public Law 600, authorizing P.R. to draft its own constitution. In July 25, 1952, the Puerto Rican Constitution was approved by a popular referendum and ratified by the U.S. Congress, with a “few amendments.” U.S. maintained an ultimate sovereignty over P.R. while at the same time it gave Puerto Ricans certain degree of autonomy over the island. Under the Territorial Clause, the autonomy recognized to the island has being interpreted by the U.S. Congress as recognition of the sovereignty over the island. In 1976 the U.S. Supreme Court indicated that the purpose of Congress in the legislations of 1950 and 1952 was to accord to P.R. the degree of autonomy and independence normally associated with a State of the Union. In that same year the Puerto Rican Supreme Court, posed with the question of what should be the relationship between the 4th Amendment of the Federal Constitution, and section 10 of article II of the Puerto Rican Constitution, concluded that P.R. remains subject to the will of Congress as to what rights are applicable and which not and that 4th Amendment describes the minimum level of security to be recognize by states, borders that can be expanded but not reduced. In short, because more than 150 years of constitutional development and civil rights struggles around the world as well as the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” and the “American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man,” both from 1948, were taken into account, P.R. was be able to draft a Bill of Rights more extensive and progressive than the one written by the drafters of the U.S. Constitution in the 18th century. In response to that struggle the P.R. Constitution recognizes the constitutional rights of the U.S. Constitutio
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