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Presidents have issued three executive orders on the subject, and Congress has considered four major bills on Puerto Rico's political status. Since the promulgation of the current Commonwealth constitution in 1952, further local attempts to change the island's political status took place in 1967, 1993, and 1998. Instead of outright representation through Senators and House Representatives, Puerto Rico has one non-voting Resident Commissioner in the House of Representatives. The English term commonwealth "does not describe or provide for any specific political status or relationship ... Although other cases followed, strictly speaking the Insular Cases are the original six opinions issued concerning acquired territories as a result of the Treaty of Paris (1898).

Although Puerto Rico presently has a certain amount of local autonomy, according to the U. Constitution ultimate governance of the island is retained by both the U. Ultimately, the results of Puerto Rican plebiscites are opinions, although congressional resolutions have expressed support for following the will of the Puerto Rican people. sovereignty that are not states...broadly describes an area that is self-governing under a constitution of its adoption and whose right of self-government will not be unilaterally withdrawn by Congress". Under the same, the Constitution only applied fully in incorporated territories such as Alaska and Hawaii, whereas it only applied partially in the new unincorporated territories of Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines.

It is to note that the citizens of Puerto Rico can vote in the Republican and Democrats Primary Elections. Thus, results of plebiscites, whether or not authorized by Congress, while they reflect public sentiment, and thus bear some impact, can be ignored by Congress. He contends that Puerto Rico is obviously not a state, and that "neither Puerto Rico's status nor its relationship with the U. supports any legitimate claim that a British type of "commonwealth" exists between Puerto Rico and the United States". However, the Court in these cases also established the doctrine of territorial incorporation.

It included the "fateful phrase" that:"While in an international sense Porto Rico (sic) was not a foreign country, since it was subject to the sovereignty of and was owned by the United States, it was foreign to the United States in a domestic sense, because the island has not been incorporated into the United States, but was merely appurtenant thereto as a possession." The Supreme Court later made other rulings. For example, the Island's government is not fully autonomous, and the level of federal presence in the Island is commonplace, including a branch of the United States Federal District Court. Puerto Ricans are also covered by a group of "fundamental civil rights" but, because Puerto Rico is not a state, they are not covered by the full Bill of Rights.

American and Puerto Rican political activities regarding the status question have revolved around three sets of initiatives: presidential executive orders, bills in the U. Considered the leading Insular case, concluded that the United States could acquire territory and exercise unrestricted power in determining what rights to concede to its inhabitants. Since the Insular Cases had established that only those rights in the U. Bill of Rights that are determined to be "fundamental" are applicable in unincorporated territories, the implications of Balzac v. For example: In a brief concurrence in the United States Supreme Court judgment of Torres v. Puerto Rico's current political status limits to the autonomy of the Puerto Rican government.

At the November 6, 2012, non-binding referendum on the status question, 54% of respondents voted to reject the current status under the territorial clause of the U. Constitution, The United States acquired the islands of Puerto Rico in 1898 after the Spanish–American War. After being approved by Congress and the President in July 1952 and thus given force under federal law (P. 82-447), the new constitution went into effect on July 25, 1952. Each time, the results favored retaining the current status over the possible independence of Puerto Rico and statehood alternatives. The Court sided with the plaintiff holding that Puerto Rico was not a "foreign country" and hence the duties were invalid. 298, 305 (1922), explained the distinction between an incorporated and a non-incorporated territory. Torruella restated it this way, "an unincorporated territory is a territory as to which, when acquired by the United States, no clear intention was expressed that it would eventually be incorporated into the Union as a State". 465 (1979), Supreme Court Justice Brennan, argued that any implicit limits from the Insular Cases on the basic rights granted by the Constitution (including especially the Bill of Rights) were anachronistic in the 1970s.

Puerto Rican status referenda have been held four times to determine the desired political status of Puerto Rico in relation to the United States of America. 81-600) authorizing Puerto Rico to hold a constitutional convention and in 1952, the people of Puerto Rico ratified a constitution establishing a republican form of government for the island. sovereignty for over a century and Puerto Ricans have been U. An additional referendum held in 1991 sought to amend the relationship through an amendment to the Puerto Rican constitution. territory, the citizens of Puerto Rico do not have any voting representation in the U. Furthermore, Puerto Rico is not represented in the Electoral College, and thus U. The six cases were: A plaintiff challenged the imposition of duties for the import of sugar from Puerto Rico to the United States proper.

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The current political status of Puerto Rico is the result of various political activities within both the United States and Puerto Rican governments. People born in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico are natural-born U. All residents must pay federal taxes but, for a variety of reasons, only some pay federal income taxes. The United Nations has intervened in the past to evaluate the legitimacy of Puerto Rico's political status, to ensure that the island's government structure complies with the standards of self-government that constitute the basic tenets of the United Nations Charter, its covenants, and its principles of international law.

Politically, Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory of the United States, which according to the U. Supreme Court's Insular Cases is "a territory appurtenant and belonging to the United States, but not a part of the United States within the revenue clauses of the Constitution." The basic question regarding this issue is whether Puerto Rico should remain a U. Puerto Ricans lack a voting representative in the U. Congress, but they do have a Resident Commissioner who has a voice in Congress (but no vote other than committee-level voting). Puerto Rico's main political issue is the territory's relationship with the United States. Some authorities, such as Trias Monge, argue that Puerto Rico "clearly does not meet the decolonization standards set by the United Nations in 1960".