The Yale Law Journal

Announcing Insular Cases Panel in Honor of Judge Juan Torruella

Alexander Nabavi-Noori
05 Nov 2020

The Yale Law Journal along with the Hon. Raymond L. Acosta Chapter of the Federal Bar Association will be hosting a panel on the YLJ Forum Collection The Insular Cases in Light of Aurelius, dedicated in memory of Judge Juan R. Torruella. 

The panel will take place on Monday, November 16 from 6:00-7:15pm EST via Zoom. The event will begin with short introductory remarks by Justice Stephen G. Breyer followed by a conversation with Aziz Rana, Christina Ponsa-Kraus, Adriel I. Cepeda Derieux, and Neil Weare on their YLJ Forum Essays on the Insular Cases. There will then be a conversation on the life and legacy of Judge Torruella including Chief Judge Jeffrey R. Howard, Judge Gustavo Gelpí, Joseph G. Feldstein, President of the Hon. Raymond L. Acosta Chapter of the Federal Bar Association, and Nestor Mendez, Federal Bar Association Fellow. Finally, Judge José A. Cabranes will offer closing remarks.

Summaries of the YLJ Forum Essays can be found below:

After Aurelius: What Future for the Insular Cases?

by Adriel I. Cepeda Derieux & Neil C. Weare 

The Court’s recent failure to overrule the Insular Cases represents a missed opportunity to move past the racially motivated doctrine of territorial incorporation. Three cases involving the denial of citizenship, warrantless searches, and unequal benefits in U.S. territories demonstrate the Insular Cases’ continuing harm while offering hope for their reconsideration. 

Political Wine in a Judicial Bottle: Justice Sotomayor’s Surprising Concurrence in Aurelius

by Christina D. Ponsa-Kraus 

This Essay criticizes Justice Sotomayor’s concurring opinion in Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico v. Aurelius Investment, LLC. for offering a one-sided and misleading explanation of the island’s constitutional status, and thereby taking sides in Puerto Rico’s decolonization debate. 

How We Study the Constitution: Rethinking the Insular Cases and Modern American Empire

by Aziz Rana 

This Essay defends the importance of the Insular Cases in American constitutional development. It explores the extent to which the United States has from the founding been a project of empire as well as the centrality of events surrounding those cases to basic transformations in twentieth century legal-political practice. 

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