Linda Greenhouse writes, "The flood of news in recent days has all but swamped a fascinating Supreme Court decision that deserves more than a footnote to the term now coming to an end. The ruling defied expectatoins in nearly every way that counted and suggests a more complex picture of the Roberts court that its notably ideology-riven decisions usually offer.
The justices typically defer to Congress in cases concerning citizenship. But this time, the court declared unconstitutional a provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act that makes the path to citizenship for foreign-born children of unmarried parents dependent on whether the citizen-parent is the mother or the father. An unwed mother can transmit her citizenship as long as she herself as lived in the United States for at least one year. But for unwed fathers, the prebirth residency requirement is five years (it was 10 years before a 1986 amendment). The differential treatment of mothers and fathers, six justices held in an opinion by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, violates the constitutional guarantee of equal protection."