Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: U.S. Territories (HBO)

Published on March 9, 2015

A set of Supreme Court decisions made over 100 years ago has left U.S. territories without meaningful representation. That’s weird, right?

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  • ManiaMac1613 4 years ago

    What I want to know is if the U.S. territories have petitioned to be
    recognized as official states. Hawaii is currently the only island
    territory that is officially recognized as a U.S. state (as far as I know).
    What exactly are the political roadblocks that are preventing these
    territories from becoming U.S. states? I see little to no evidence that the
    residents of these territories are opposed to the idea, since it would
    instantly elevate their status in the eyes of other Americans and they’re
    already U.S. citizens, except for American Samoans (which is downright
    horrible). And the sad part is that I actually understand why this is an
    issue; I actually didn’t know ANY of this before John Oliver bought it to
    my attention, and that really pisses me off. But this is the 21st century,
    people should know about this crap. So what’s the excuse? People get riled
    up in the mainland states about civil rights and even start freaking riots
    over it, but they completely disregard the parts of the U.S. that are in
    way worse political/economic condition? That’s crazy. 

  • Energyone 4 years ago

    “United States of Amoogaboink” XD

  • EasySnake 4 years ago

    Several points:
    1. these people can vote for the president if they move to a US state. Eg.
    people on Guam, the US virgin islands, puerto rico, etc can vote for the US
    president when they move to any US state. There is zero legal restrictions
    on them Moving to a US state. they are citizens. It would be the same as a
    New yorker moving to florida.

    2. They are allowed to vote for their local officials, who 99.99% of the
    time control what happens in those islands.

    3. These territories do not pay federal income taxes. Quite frankly I would
    rather not pay federal income taxes if all I had to give up was voting for
    the POTUS.

    There is no great injustice being committed on these people. if voting is
    so important to them, have them move to any of the 50 US states. Nothing in
    the legal code is stopping them. many of them prefer not having to pay
    federal income taxes.

  • deadboy600 4 years ago

    You’re not an American. You immigrated here for what reason? To bitch,
    complain and berate The U.S.? Who immigrates to a country only to complain
    about it? Shut the fuck up you whiny little cocksucker. Someone is going to
    kick the ever loving shit out of you, stuff you into a duffle bag and ship
    you the fuck back to England. Dumb asshole.

  • Nate Berry 4 years ago

    American “Nationals” cannot vote, even though they serve in the American
    military and participate in straw poll elections at a higher percentage
    than citizens do.

  • Nicholas Childers 4 years ago

    Yes, they can’t vote on presidential elections because they aren’t states.
    They are territories. When I first learned about US territories my first
    question was “Why don’t they become states?” Well apparently some of them
    don’t want to be states. In 2012 Puerto Rico was considering becoming the
    51st state but 54 percent of respondents voted against it. Once the
    territories want to become a state then they can get all the rights that
    come with being a state. Until then they can remain a territory with
    limited U.S. rights. The District of Columbia isn’t a state and none if
    its residents can vote on the president but I guess that’s something John
    Oliver knows but just chose not to think about. Honestly I would love to
    see the territories become states. I think they definitely deserve it,
    especially American Samoa and Guam.

  • Dan Shielding 4 years ago

    At best: a sick ritual used to fool people into thinking their rulers
    represent them.
    At worst: a way for some people to commit unjust “legal” aggression against

    No one should have the right to vote away my freedoms.

  • dannylew8299 4 years ago

    I was never taught about U.S. territories in school. Off the top of my head
    I have no idea where these places are… and they’re supplying my military
    with soldiers. This is shameful.

  • Scott Adler 4 years ago

    How many Canadians were allowed to vote on the new British royal succession

    Just a thought.

  • ZombieTex 4 years ago

    Requiring an ID to vote is a red herring. It’s a NON-issue which has been
    portrayed as a serious problem with society. Most of the developed world,
    and even a lot of 3rd world nations require voter ID. So, why is it okay
    for them to require it, but it’s some how NOT okay for us to require it?
    This is how we make sure the elections are fair. Why is it wrong to want it
    to be fair? The whole notion is absurd.

  • James Parker 4 years ago

    “Anglo Saxon principles” ….Anglo Saxons have been the minority in America
    sines the 19th century.

  • Jagues07 4 years ago

    Americans didn’t invent television, John Logie Baird (a Brit) did. John
    Oliver should know better.

  • David Mantel 4 years ago

    I admit that I did not know this, and I am very very deeply upset to learn
    it. #statehood #votingrights #citizenship 

  • Rey Burgos 4 years ago


  • Leocomander 4 years ago

    Puertoricans are not Americans by international law how do you think we
    have an olympic team??

  • Barry Nichols 4 years ago

    How do citizens not vote. It can only be racism. I wonder if they were
    mainly white what the rule would be

  • Lordy 4 years ago

    Clayton's Americans…. the Americans you have who aren't Americans.

  • Sylverias 4 years ago

    Puerto Rico has had 4 referendums that I can find over the past 50 years to
    see if the citizens want change their territorial status. The first 3, in
    67, 93, and 98, the majority voted AGAINST status change. It wasn’t until
    just 2012 that a majority of Puerto Rican voters voted in favor (54% to
    46%) of ending their territorial status. And, of those who voted to end it,
    34% voted free association and nearly 6% voted for complete independence
    from the United States.

    This video tries to make it sound like these people have been desperate to
    become a non-territorial part of the US for decades, when in reality, its
    only been a few years that there has been a majority of US territorial
    residents (at least in Puerto Rico) who actively wish to change that, and
    even among those who would do wish for that change, there’s a
    not-insignificant portion that do not wish to be US citizens.

  • locksheer 4 years ago

    They are also not required to pay taxes if you live in the territories.

  • Susan Moya 4 years ago

    Check out this video on YouTube:

  • Nikolai Champaco 4 years ago

    I’m from Guam. If the territories cannot vote. Then I don’t think we should
    be the territories of the United States 

  • ajrothBU09 4 years ago

    Why do I feel like half the reason these “territories” aren’t states is
    that we’re just too lazy to figure out how to squeeze any more stars on the

  • 1320crusier 4 years ago

    Theres a Constitutional app for that:
    become a state. The end.

  • Mclaren Cardwell 4 years ago

    The biggest rallying cry in the formation of the United States of America,
    was no Taxation without Representation. the fact that we are violating that
    principle should shake America to its very core.

  • Damian Del Pizzo 4 years ago

    when there a things like this happening in the world they should be sorted
    at a higher priority than gay marriage

  • James Doe 4 years ago

    As soon as Puerto Rico starts to pay full taxes to the Republic then they
    can vote. Many of the US territories cherry pick their dedication to the

  • Marcela Aarles 4 years ago

    Most Americans are so dumb they don’t even know their country has
    territories and think Samoans and Puerto ricans are immigrants!

  • Bogmire777 4 years ago

    US territories are economically better off their their independent
    neighbors, and how is anyone surprised that in 1901 people thought like
    that, also it should be noted, the islanders were at the time likely
    illiterate, and territories without citizenship was so incredibly normal
    and widespread no one would have batted an eye. That wont stop rampant
    presentism and decontextulization though, because that’s what fake outrage
    is all about. Should they vote? Probably it’s complex, should we scoff at
    century old laws, maybe, but understand them in their context. Letting
    illiterate non-English speakers vote in US elections was so out of the
    question in 1901, It’d be like being surprised to see Puritans didn’t
    believe in same sex marriage. 

  • Vic Tach 4 years ago

    John Oliver is such a patriot, brave man for speaking about all these
    issues that are very important. He probably just sees himself as a
    comedian, but he’s a fucking hero to be honest.

  • Eric Deplata 4 years ago

    Guamanian right here. ^^

  • biggpete100 4 years ago

    In America, we have something called the “electoral college”

    In this system, the STATES, not the general public, vote for the president.

    These territories cannot vote because they are not STATES. If they chose
    to apply for statehood, then the people would be able to vote. That’s in
    the constitution, folks.

  • SkiDaBird 4 years ago

    We are so attached to the 50 states concept. Give DC, Puerto Rico, Guam et
    al what they deserve. We don’t even have to call them states, just give
    them the full legal power.

  • Maria “マリアリヴェラ” Rivera 4 years ago

    Puerto Rico is a colony taken by force by the US, who entered here to rape
    our women and experiment on our people and guess what, they still
    experiment on our people.

    We demand our independence and we demand that the US to be OUT of Puerto
    Rico, inmidiatly.

  • Lucas Harmon 4 years ago

    They don’t pay federal income taxes.

  • Fifa14HD 4 years ago

    This probably won’t get seen, but it also has something to do with the fact
    that the territories aren’t taxed (at least not for federal income tax).

    So they don’t get voting rights, but they don’t have to pay income taxes
    either, and can enjoy the benefits of being a citizen and territory of the
    US, military, visas, etc.

    I hadn’t heard about the american samoa thing though. Thats awful. They
    should at least give them the same rights as other territories.

    And regarding the VA, its also a disgrace. a veteran’s a veteran.

  • Aaron Brandon 4 years ago

    Usually i agree with John Oliver but not with this one. U.S territories
    dont pay federal taxes. They don’t deserve the right to vote and have a say
    in our government if theyre not going to contribute taxes like every other
    state. That’s why they refuse to be a state. They dont wanna pay taxes for
    it. And if i was them i wouldnt either. They get protection from us and are
    lucky enough to call themselves U.S. citizen which is appalling since
    theyre a different country. 

  • Soldier53flyer 4 years ago

    AMERICAN???????????????????????????? SEND HIM BACK TO WHERE EVER HE CAME

  • 1Infeqaul1 4 years ago

    Acquired them? More like took them …sigh

  • Mike Calak 4 years ago

    Well, the threshold reason is that they are not states, and only residents
    of the 50 states and District of Columbia can vote in Presidential

    These days it really comes down to the precarious balance of power in
    Congress and how one side might be afraid of upsetting the existing balance
    (or losing an existing advantage) by admitting a new state or even giving
    the District a member of Congress.
    Is this guy for real Racism????

  • Phloid82 4 years ago

    I want to live in Thinmintissippiippi.

  • Odiri KrunchGrizzly 4 years ago

    America the greatest country my foot.

  • WEIMY BIMMER 4 years ago


  • Derp Craft 4 years ago

    I literally just clicked remind me later on my updates less than a minute
    before the reference……….

  • Susan Hare 4 years ago

    Just a thought, if we want to keep to 50 states, merge Montana, Wyoming,
    North and South Dakota into one state (population less than 2 million) and
    give the territories voting rights.

  • Jasmine Atcherson 4 years ago

    Hands down the most hilarious person ever, yet he still manages to get his
    message across. Bravo John Oliver!

  • crowcade 4 years ago

    I hate to be ‘that’ guy, but in the words of Mark Twain,
    “‘If voting made any difference they wouldn’t let us do it.”

  • Cathal Brannigan 4 years ago

    One of the many reasons that these territories cannot vote is because
    republicans know that the islands are mostly made up of minorities who
    would likely vote democrat, making it even more difficult for a republican
    nominee to win the presidency, which is why it is unlikely that they will
    be voting anytime soon.

  • Marissa G 4 years ago

    Turn out for what – John Oliver 2015

  • Anshel Ahmad (DiamondLion) 4 years ago


  • Mark G 4 years ago

    Thank you for these stories. I would never have known this if you had not
    brought it to my attention.

  • marcy doyle 4 years ago

    I wish he would have mentioned if they pay taxes to the U.S.Govt.

  • Brad Minch 4 years ago

    Anglo-Saxon principals = Magna Carta, which states that the law is above
    everyone including the king. Unique to England/GB.
    The US laws don’t apply to US Territories looks exactly like the Roman
    Twelve Tables = applies to Roman citizens only, full legal protection under
    the law.
    Law of Nations = non Roman citizens, which had limited rights compared to
    citizens under the Twelve Tables. To get under the Twelve Tables rights/
    full-citizenship, they would have to serve in the military.
    Pretty weird how the US has a system that is similar to the Roman system
    1600 years ago. and its complete bull shit how they lack voting rights or
    automatic citizenship.

  • Chandler Kivett 4 years ago

    The main issue here is that when the United States was created they only
    had a system of creating new territories that would eventually become
    states, and therefore, an integral part of the United States. Cue the
    Spanish-American war and America jumps on the imperialism bandwagon to
    compete with Europe, where we were assholes to the Philippines for 50
    years, then nuked most of the rest of the islands that we got from Spain
    for the next 50. The problem is and was at the time it started, of these
    territories that we were never going to integrate in the first place and
    now we are dealing with the repercussions. In my opinion, statehood should
    not be a major factor in elections or representation, being a natural U.S
    citizen should. I apologize if this article might be a bit insensitive, but
    history is not rainbows and sunshine. But, I am only a North Carolinian so
    what do i know.

  • Hassan Saeed 4 years ago

    That Lil Jon Song moment killed me

  • The Happy Frog 4 years ago

    i have good LOLI

  • Kinimod Productions 4 years ago

    his eyebrows put me off :3

  • Syluan Comelli 4 years ago

    Just wondering what Donald Trump would say about this!

    …this is a shame, and very unfair!

  • The Doctor 4 years ago

    When Donald Trump becomes president, the territories will become
    concentration camps.

  • jonathan angelilli 4 years ago

    I could watch that moment of the judge getting hot from his singing over
    and over again :-)

  • ab wahid 4 years ago

    hope CIA doesn’t kill our favorite luni balloni….

  • Mauricio Arroyave 3 years ago

    There is no cobras in Colombia ¬¬ and the stethical surgeons used here are
    imported from the “”cut my body culture”” of U.S.

  • Bella Vita 3 years ago

    I don’t think the newscasters were throwing shade at her. They were
    probably referring to her parents moving to a place that maybe didn’t even
    speak their language. Puerto Ricans have a parade every year to represent
    the pride in their flag becasue they still consider themselves unique from
    the US, which might be why some people still think of it as a country. Do
    people from St. Thomas or Alaska do a parade to wave their flags? I am just

  • fowwshizzlemanizzle 3 years ago

    I’m pretty sure that British territories have the same lack of rights as
    the US territories…

  • Alee. Happi 3 years ago

    I’m from Puerto Rico, currently serving in the US ARMY. As a kid, I always
    though that it sucked for me having to spend all of my life learning about
    America, being forced to remember the states, the wars they participated
    in, and study pretty much every single thing about them, but the moment I
    talk to someone about where I come from, they have this dumbfounded look on
    their face and ask “I don’t know where it is.” US territories are forced to
    implement US history in the school curriculum, but most Americans don’t
    even know ANYTHING relating to the histories of Puerto Rico, Guam, The US
    Virgin Islands, and America Somoa. Fuck, they can’t even locate the
    territories in the world map. (the proof is in the comments)

    I legitimately got pissed at someone because they asked me how did I get my
    green card to serve in the armed forces. Are you fucking kidding me?

  • Jeremiah Payte 3 years ago

    Other facts not covered by John. Their men MUST register for the selective
    service (AKA Draft) and they pay ALL federal taxes that are applicable by
    law in their territories. As a US citizen and a US sailor, this disgusts me
    and saddens me.

  • Kee Gee Bee 3 years ago

    4:50 **meanwhile in the translators episode** “It’s just 200 square miles
    of palm trees and storage space. It’s GUAM”- John Oliver, October 2014

  • Iggypox 3 years ago

    Not even sure if it’s worth being a USA citizen anymore. Those territories
    should just claim their independence and tell the US to take a hike.

  • Daniel Long 3 years ago

    All the territories excluding Puerto Rico should be states or have voting
    rights. I exclude Puerto Rico because they don’t pay federal taxes.

  • Brock Fielder 3 years ago

    In Canada our territories are just different on a territorial/provincial

  • Alexandra E 3 years ago

    “The bearer is a United States National and not a United States Citizen.”-

    Wtf… that is so messed up and wrong on so many levels! If you were born
    in a RECOGNIZED US country, then automatically that should earn you a full
    citizenship. This really is a mess that can be cleared up with a stroke of
    a pen!

  • TheLegendInYou 3 years ago

    John Oliver missed that fact that all five territories have voted “NO” to
    becoming states. I’m not sure how often they get to vote on this, but I
    know Puerto Rico has had this vote at least three times in my lifetime. If
    they voted Yes, then we would get more stars on the flag and they would in
    turn have to pay federal taxes, but all of the people would receive full
    citizenship rights.

  • Hayden Biernat 3 years ago

    The funniest part is just before the video started, I clicked remind me
    later on a computer update hahahahahaha

  • bemoore4 3 years ago

    I always find it odd that Puerto Rico sends its own team to the Summer
    Olympics. Shouldn’t they be on the U.S. team?

  • Biguss Dickus 3 years ago

    if you think that’s shameful. Look at what America does to the people of

  • mliano 3 years ago

    Yep, those rules are oooollddd!!!!

  • Kadeem Daniels 3 years ago

    very interesting! :)

  • Ismael Abrego 3 years ago

    return those territories back to Spain, you stole them with tricks and lies

  • Minoumimi 3 years ago

    You live in a country ran like a JAIL
    simply waaay too many states,
    makes it easier to manipulate all of you
    Let all the prisoners live together you’ll have a Riot eventually
    or they will start having more rights or become stronger etc etc..
    Separate them all though, and you have total control over them
    There is no points in having so many dam states,,
    We all have same laws in canada other then maybe vancouver
    they have legal whore parkings and legal heroin houses.. like wtf why…lol
    But ya we have only 10 provinces and 3 territories and it is bigger,,,
    Yet in that smaller land you squeezed 52 states?…
    and put different laws in each of them…
    it’s has if every state was a patient on a different dose of LSD and they
    are just waiting to see who is the weakest minded targets to take full
    advantage of
    lets call it *United of the too many fkin states*

  • Albert Barnett 3 years ago

    This status has existed since the founding of the country, territories, do
    not have a vote until they vote for statehood and it is accepted by the
    congress. Puerto Rico has had the opportunity to vote for statehood several
    time in the last 50 years they have rejected it every time. They choose
    citizenship with all the economic benefits with out the responsibilities.

  • Benjamin Kham 3 years ago

    That turn out for what joke was too good.

  • floLAD123 3 years ago

    Did anyone ever stop to ask the question.. What if they don’t want American

  • Rosa Pittman 3 years ago

    I’m the great-granddaughter of a man from St Thomas USVI and even though I
    knew some of the history of the island, I didn’t realize the depths of
    disrespect U.S. territories received from the mainland. How fuckin’

  • Very Bad Villain 3 years ago

    Why should they be able to vote when they are territories. They got to vote
    first to either become a State, become independent, or stay the way it is.
    Their coconut brain can’t handle that fact that they first need to decide.
    If they choose to become a state, then they can vote. If they choose to go,
    then why should they vote? If they decide to stay, then they know what
    they’re getting themselves into.

  • Mirandu Kan 3 years ago

    Who gives a fuck about Guam?

  • eunicko 3 years ago

    It’s actually quite sad

  • AustralianLeprechaun 3 years ago

    Why don’t they just declare independence and sod the USA?

  • Andrés Gallagher 3 years ago

    white people saying “puerto ricans have US citizenship, but they’re not
    american” ayee, Puerto ricans have fought in every US military conflict
    since ww1 for the “freedom” of this country they have died just like black
    and white people. what makes you think that we’re not just as americans as
    you guys?

  • Zelle D 3 years ago

    “ partial orgasm.” I am so glad he caught that. I thought I was just
    being weird.

  • Coolio ajp 3 years ago

    I am an Obama supporter, but this is one situation that his administration
    should have dealt with better. I am a U.S. vet from Iraqi Freedom and
    today I am ashamed of the U.S.A.

  • Nik Morris 3 years ago

    America, land of hypocrisy.

  • ArnellaMaturin 3 years ago

    I made the mistake of referring to a Puerto Rican as American because she
    had a US passport. She angrily lectured me for 5 minutes about how she was
    a US Passport holder NOT an American.

  • Surud Patel 3 years ago

    This shows how unexceptional US is though Politicians Brag to the end of
    the world about this and we swallow this pride lock stock & barrel.


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