Christina D. Ponsa-Kraus smiling on College Walk

Christina D. Ponsa-Kraus

  • George Welwood Murray Professor of Legal History

Ph.D., Princeton University, 2010
J.D., Yale Law School, 1998
M.Phil., University of Cambridge, 1995
B.A., Princeton University, 1990

Areas of Specialty

American Legal History
Constitutional Law

Christina D. Ponsa-Kraus joined the faculty of Columbia Law School in 2007. A Puerto Rican raised on the island, she writes about the constitutional history of American territorial expansion and the extraterritorial application of the U.S. Constitution, examining their implications for American federalism, citizenship, and nationhood. Ponsa-Kraus is especially interested in the legal issues surrounding the political status of Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories (the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa) and has written about these issues in the mainstream media as well as in scholarly publications. She is the co-editor of Foreign in a Domestic Sense: Puerto Rico, American Expansion, and the Constitution, a groundbreaking study of the United States’ unfinished colonial experiment.

Ponsa-Kraus is currently working on a study of recent legal developments affecting the status of the U.S. territories.

Before joining the Law School, Ponsa-Kraus clerked for Judge José A. Cabranes of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit and for Justice Stephen G. Breyer on the U.S. Supreme Court. She is an affiliated faculty member of the Columbia University Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race.


Op-Eds and Blogs

Selected Presentations, Appearances, and Public Statements

  • Puerto Rico's Political Possibilities Post-Fiona” (September 23, 2022). Conversation on NPR's The Takeaway with Prof. Charles Venator-Santiago and host Dr. Melissa Harris-Perry.
  • Why Statehood Makes Sense for Puerto Rico” (May 25, 2022). Conversation about the history and future of Puerto Rico's status on You Decide podcast with Errol Louis.
  • What the Supreme Court's Decision on Puerto Rico Could Open the Door to” (April 25, 2022). Conversation about United States v. Vaello-Madero (2022) on Background Briefing with Ian Masters.
  • Puerto Rican Rights at SCOTUS and Throughout History” (November 11, 2021). National Constitution Center President and CEO Jeffrey Rosen discusses United States v. Vaello Madero with Professor Ponsa-Kraus and Neil Weare, President and Founder of Equally American, on We the People podcast.
  • Compromise Proposal on Puerto Rico Status Legislation (October 2021). Co-authored with Rafael Cox Alomar. Explained in this OpEd in the Miami Herald. Discussed on a panel at the University of Puerto Rico on October 27, 2021 (in Spanish). Coverage by Puerto Rican newspaper El Nuevo Dia here.
  • Interview with Jean Peña Payano on podcast "Desde el Podio" (August 20, 2021) (in Spanish). Peña Payano interviews Ponsa-Kraus on Puerto Rican statehood.
  • Interview with Carmen Jovet on Puerto Rican news program "Punto Final" (June 17, 2021) (in Spanish). Jovet interviews Ponsa-Kraus about her testimony before the House Committee on Natural Resources the previous day (see below). The interview begins at approximately 6 minutes 45 seconds and follows Jovet's interview with Professor Rafael Cox Alomar, who also testified at the hearing.
  • U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Natural Resources, Second Hearing on Puerto Rico Statehood Admission Act of 2021 and Puerto Rico Self-Determination Act of 2021 (June 16, 2021), Testimony (original version here and revised version here). A video of the hearing is available here.
  • Guam Legislature, Hearing on Resolution 56-36, supporting U.S. House Resolution 279, denouncing the Insular Cases of 1901, Testimony (May 5, 2021 Guam Time).
  • U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Natural Resources, Hearing on Puerto Rico Statehood Admission Act of 2021 and Puerto Rico Self-Determination Act of 2021 (April 14, 2021), Testimony. A video of the hearing is available here. Prof. Ponsa-Kraus's submissions for the record are compiled and available here.
  • Letter from Legal and Constitutional Scholars Supporting Puerto Rico Admission Act of 2021 and Opposing Puerto Rico Self-Determination Act of 2021 (April 12, 2021). A response to the letter by constitutional law professors in Puerto Rico is available here. Professor Ponsa-Kraus's reply is available here. The entire exchange is available here.
  • "'Self-Determination' and Puerto Rican Statehood." Presentation as part of panel entitled "The First 30 Days Forward: The Biden-Harris Administration's Present and Potential Impact on U.S. Institutions, Law & Policy," Columbia Law School (via Zoom) (February 10, 2021). In this 10-minute presentation, Prof. Ponsa-Kraus answers two questions: "Are the statehood efforts of Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C., now ripe for consideration under a Biden-Harris Administration? Why or why not? How should students think about the intersection of statehood and voting rights?"
  • "Political Crisis and Puerto Rico's Status Question," Puerto Rico Diaspora Summit 2019, Center for Puerto Rican Studies, Hunter College (September 27, 2019).
  • News report on Prof. Ponsa-Kraus's lecture "Being Puerto Rican: Life in the Shadow of Empire's Law," delivered at Columbia Law School (March 23, 2016).
  • "History, Perspectives, and Lessons," Reconsidering the Insular Cases Conference, Harvard Law School (March 14, 2014).
  • White House Interagency Task Force on Puerto Rico, Discussion on Status, Testimony (May 25, 2010).

Amicus Briefs

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