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Flores Villar v. United States (Supreme Court, NIJC as amicus)

In Flores-Villar, an individual defended himself against a charge of illegal reentry by claiming that it would be unconstitutional and violative of Equal Protection to consider him an alien.  The relevant statute provided that a child of unmarried parents obtains citizenship automatically through a U.S. citizen mother if she resided in the U.S. for one year prior to his birth; but through a U.S. citizen father only if he had resided in the U.S. prior to the birth for ten years, five of which must be after he was 14 years old.  Flores-Villar’s father was 16 years old at the time of his son’s birth; the statute thus barred him from conveying citizenship to his son.  Flores-Villar argues that this differential between fathers and mothers violates Equal Protection.  The primary issues in the case are whether heightened scrutiny applies to gender distinctions in the immigration context, and whether this distinction would fail either rational basis or a heightened scrutiny test.  

NIJC, in partnership with the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) filed an amicus addressing remedy, standing, and plenary power in this case.  NIJC addressed standing through an analysis of the immigration statute, by arguing it would undercut the rules laid out in the immigration statute to require citizen parents (as opposed to their children) to litigate these Equal Protection claims.  The amicus also highlighted the historic role of courts in citizenship matters, as well as the role they continue to play, in arguing that the court has the power to remedy the constitutional violation (of Equal Protection) in this case.

On June 13, 2011, in a 4-4 decision, the Supreme Court affirmed the Ninth Circuit decision below.

Read the NIJC/AILA amicus brief.

Read the petitioner’s brief.

Read the Solicitor General’s response brief.

View other briefs, listen to the oral argument, and read SCOTUS Blog analysis of the case here.