A one-sentence ruling earlier this month by the United States Supreme Court dealt a blow to California father’s rights by letting unequal citizenship standards for fathers and mothers stand.
According to an account in the New York Times, the case – Flores-Villar v United States – concerns a father seeking to pass his US citizenship on to his foreign-born son. As the Times outlines: “children born outside the country to an unmarried American parent are considered American citizens at birth if the parent lived in the United States before the child was born. For a mother, the required period of residence is one year. For a father, it is 10 years, five of them after he turns 14.”
This blatantly unfair standard was upheld here in California by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Earlier this month the US Supreme Court affirmed that ruling in an unsigned, one-sentence opinion. The statement noted that the court was divided equally, 4-4, with Justice Elena Kagan recusing herself (presumably because she was involved in earlier stages of the litigation during her previous job as US Solicitor General).
The case will directly impact the boy at its center. As the Times notes, Ruben Flores-Villar was born in Mexico to an American father and a Mexican mother. His father has been raising him in San Diego. The father, however, was 16 at the time of Ruben’s birth, making it mathematically impossible for him to have met the five-years-residence-after-age-14 standard, though putting him well within the standard applied to mothers.
As the paper notes, this particular conception of citizenship is built around “outmoded principles when it comes to married couples.” The Appeals Court here in California had denied Ruben US citizenship because, it said, the father-child bond “is not so easily established” as that with mothers. As an Orange County father’s rights lawyer it is difficult not to acknowledge that this ruling will create problems for more than a few families in our community. As the Times aptly notes: “the days when fathers were assumed to be minor players in parenting are long over.” California fathers need to know that we will always be here to help them fight for their rights.
New York Times: The Supreme Court Disses Fathers