(CN) – Having reached a stalemate, the Supreme Court on Monday affirmed sex-based criteria that allows unwed mothers to transmit citizenship to their children more easily than unwed fathers.
Unwed mothers who are U.S. citizens can transmit citizenship to their children by living in the United States for one year, while unwed fathers must live in the country for five years.
Ruben Flores-Villar, whose mother was Mexican and his father a U.S. citizen, challenged the gender-based requirements after he was indicted for being in the United States illegally.
Flores-Villar had claimed U.S. citizenship based on his father’s status but was denied. On appeal, the 9th Circuit rejected his claim that sex-based criteria violated gender discrimination under the Fifth Amendment.
Justice Elena Kagan had recused herself from the case because of her work as solicitor general. With an eight-judge panel remaining, the court’s opinion Monday notes simply that the lower court’s decision was affirmed by an equally divided vote.