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SCOTUS hands down important decision in case examining birthright citizenship - II

Last week, our blog began discussing how the Supreme Court of the United States handed down an important decision in Lynch v. Morales-Santana -- now Sessions v. Morales-Santana -- a case examining whether the differing physical residency requirements of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 violated the Fifth Amendment's guarantee of equal protection.

Having established the facts of the case and some background on these residency requirements, today's post will discuss the decision reached by the high court.

In a decision handed down last Monday, SCOTUS held that unwed fathers and mothers cannot be treated differently when determining whether their children may claim U.S. citizenship.

In an opinion penned by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and joined by five justices, the court held that the INA's differing physical residency requirements were indeed based on impermissible and unjustified gender stereotypes violative of the equal protection guarantees of the Fifth Amendment.

Specifically, Justice Ginsburg wrote that the law is based on the flawed assumption that "unwed fathers care little about, indeed are strangers to, their children," and how "lump characterization of [this] kind … no longer passes equal protection inspection."

While one would imagine this determination boded well for Morales-Santana, meaning it would put a halt to his deportation, this wasn't the case.

According to the opinion, while the normal remedy is for the court to extend the benefits conferred by statute to the disadvantaged group, such that the one-year waiting period for unwed citizen mothers would be extended to Morales-Santana, this wasn't the appropriate course of action.

The reality, wrote Ginsburg, was that the one-year waiting period for unwed citizen mothers was the exception to the general rule.

As such, the more appropriate remedy was to hold that "the "now-five-year requirement should apply, prospectively, to children born to unwed U.S.-citizen mothers” and that it would thereafter be up to Congress to address the issue -- should it decide to do so -- in a gender-neutral manner.

Consider speaking with a skilled legal professional if you have questions about the process of securing citizenship or another important immigration matter.

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