The Yale Law Journal

U.S. Territories


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

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 de…


After Aurelius: What Future for the Insular Cases?

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 …


A Dedication to Judge Juan Torruella

Stephen G. Breyer

Justice Stephen Breyer reflects on his friendship with Judge Juan Torruella.


On Judge Juan Torruella

José A. Cabranes

Judge José Cabranes describes Judge Juan Torruella’s legacy and his place in the history of Puerto Rico and of the United States.


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

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 le…


Closing Remarks on Judge Juan Torruella

José A. Cabranes

These closing remarks were delivered at the Yale Law Journal Insular Cases Panel in Honor of Judge Juan Torruella held via a Zoom conference.


Island Judges

James T. Campbell

Tracing the evolution of territorial courts over the last half century, this Note argues that prevailing justifications for withholding life tenure from federal judges in U.S. territories are now obsolete. It foregrounds the central role that the Judicial Conference has played in preserving two sepa…


Beyond the Critique of Rights: The Puerto Rico Legal Project and Civil Rights Litigation in America’s Colony

Valeria M. Pelet del Toro

In the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, Puerto Ricans were faced with a stark reminder of their second-class citizenship. This Note traces the development of the island’s civil rights movement through the little-known history of the Puerto Rico Legal Project, revealing the power (and limits) of ri…