The cur­rent polit­i­cal sta­tus of Puer­to Rico is offi­cial­ly called Esta­do Libre Aso­ci­a­do de Puer­to Rico. When it is trans­lat­ed into Eng­lish, it means Free Asso­ci­at­ed State of Puer­to Rico. Over time, this polit­i­cal sta­tus has been con­ve­nient­ly referred to as the Com­mon­wealth of Puer­to Rico. Ter­ri­to­r­i­al sta­tus is meant to be a tran­si­tion­al step to ush­er in a per­ma­nent sta­tus, such as state­hood or inde­pen­dence. Estab­lished in 1952, the ter­ri­to­r­i­al arrange­ment it was meant to serve as a tran­si­tion­al step.

The Supreme Court of the Unit­ed States acknowl­edged that Puer­to Rico fell under the ter­ri­to­r­i­al clause of the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion and under the author­i­ty of Con­gress: Con­gress, pur­suant to its author­i­ty under the Ter­ri­to­ry Clause of the Con­sti­tu­tion to make all rules and reg­u­la­tions respect­ing Ter­ri­to­ries, may treat Puer­to Rico dif­fer­ent­ly from States so long as there is a basis for its actions.  In effect, Con­gress has the author­i­ty to regard The Com­mon­wealth of Puer­to Rico as an ordi­nary ter­ri­to­ry and treat Puer­to Rico in a dif­fer­ent way from the oth­er 50 states.  In oth­er words, Puer­to Rico is a colony of the Unit­ed States of America.

This cur­rent colo­nial sta­tus does not allow Puer­to Ricans to vote for the Pres­i­dent of the Unit­ed States.  Puer­to Ricans do not have rep­re­sen­ta­tion in the U.S. Sen­ate and no vot­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tion in Con­gress.  Instead, the 4 mil­lion U.S. Cit­i­zens of Puer­to Rico only have one Res­i­dent Com­mis­sion­er who can­not even vote on the House floor.  There­fore, Puer­to Ricans have no say in the mak­ing of the laws and statutes that apply to them. Even though the U.S. Supreme Court has absolute juris­dic­tion over Puer­to Rico, Puer­to Ricans do not have rep­re­sen­ta­tion in the U.S. Sen­ate to cast an up or down vote on Supreme Court nom­i­nees.  In the end, Puer­to Rico is gov­erned by a Con­gress in which they are not allowed to par­tic­i­pate in, an Exec­u­tive whom they did not elect, and a Judi­cia­ry whose jus­tices they did not confirm.

List of H.R. Proposed Bills in Congress in 2009