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SCOTUS to hear oral arguments in case examining birthright citizenship - II

Now that Election Day has come and gone, pundits and scholars alike are busy interpreting the results, and forecasting what it all means on a state and federal level. As fascinating as this is, it's important not to lose sight of other important matters.

Indeed, as we discussed yesterday, the Supreme Court of the United States is slated to hear oral arguments today in Lynch v. Morales-Santana, a case examining whether the differing physical residency requirements for unmarried fathers and unmarried mothers under the Immigration and Nationality Act violates the Fifth Amendment.

Morales-Santana's appeal arguing that the INA's physical residency requirement for unwed fathers was discriminatory against men and, by extension, violative of the Fifth Amendment's guarantee of equal protection, eventually made its way before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. In a surprising turn of events, the court ruled in favor of Morales-Santana and found that the provision was indeed unconstitutional.

The Department of Justice's subsequently filed a petition for a writ of certiorari, arguing in part that a decision was needed to settle a new split between the Second Circuit and Ninth Circuit. The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the case and oral arguments were scheduled for today.

It is expected that during these oral arguments, Justice Department attorneys will argue that the physical residency requirements of the INA, as written, are necessary to ensure that children born in foreign nations have a sufficient link to the U.S.

For their part, it's expected that attorneys representing Morales-Santana, who has drawn support from such influential groups as the American Civil Liberties Union, will contend that the differing treatments afforded to unwed mothers and unwed fathers under the INA is the product of a bygone era.

Specifically, they'll argue that Congress passed the measure in 1952, a time when there was an assumption, now antiquated, that mothers were somehow inherently more responsible than fathers, and that this type of gender discrimination cannot be allowed to persist.

It will be fascinating to see what the eight sitting justices ultimately decide in this case.

Stay tuned for updates …

If you have questions about the process of securing citizenship, consider speaking with a skilled legal professional who can answer your questions, explain the law and help you pursue solutions. 

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