MILLER v. ALBRIGHT

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Case Basics
Docket No. 
96-1060
Petitioner 
Miller
Respondent 
Albright
Advocates
(Argued the cause for the respondent)
(Argued the cause for the petitioner)
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Facts of the Case 

Lorelyn Miller was born in the Philippines, in 1970, to a Filipino national woman and an American soldier. Her parents were never married. In 1992, after the State Department rejected her first application for U.S. citizenship, Miller reapplied when a Texas court granted her father's petition for a paternity decree declaring him her father. When the State Department rejected her citizenship application again, claiming that 8 U.S.C. Section 1409(a) required foreign born illegitimate children of American fathers to be legitimated before age 18, Miller challenged the refusal. She claimed that since Section 1409(c) established at birth the citizenship of an illegitimate foreign-born child whose mother was an American citizen, the State Department's refusal to do the same under Section 1409(a), when the father is an American citizen, was unconstitutional. On appeal from an appellate court's decision to affirm the lower court's dismissal of the case, the Supreme Court granted Miller certiorari.

Question 

Does 8 U.S.C. Section 1409, establishing upon birth the U.S. citizenship of illegitimate foreign-born children whose mothers only are U.S. citizens but failing to do the same if only their fathers are U.S. citizens, violate the Fifth Amendment's equal protection guarantees?

Conclusion 
Decision: 6 votes for Albright, 3 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Immigration and Naturalization, Immigration, Nationality, or Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Acts, as amended

No. After ruling that Miller had standing to challenge the constitutionality of a federal statute, the Court held that 8 U.S.C. Section 1409 did not violate the Equal Protection Clause. The Court reasoned that different treatment of mothers and fathers of out-of-wedlock children was justified since the two parents are not "similarly situated." While the child's relationship with its father may be undisclosed for several years, its blood relationship to its mother is usually apparent through hospital records. Moreover, whereas birth mothers will know immediately of their child's existence, birth fathers and their children may never know each other. The statutory requirement that a child born out of wedlock to a citizen father obtain formal proof of paternity by age 18, either through legitimization, written acknowledgment by the father under oath, or adjudication by a competent court, is well tailored to address the difficulties of establishing a child's citizenship based only on the relation to the father.

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MILLER v. ALBRIGHT. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 24 April 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1997/1997_96_1060>.
MILLER v. ALBRIGHT, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1997/1997_96_1060 (last visited April 24, 2014).
"MILLER v. ALBRIGHT," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed April 24, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1997/1997_96_1060.