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Is gender inequity in immigration law acceptable?

There are often many hurdles to overcome before a person can become a U.S. citizen. Few of those hurdles include a trip to the Supreme Court, however.

But that is where a case involving gender inequity in U.S. immigration law will be heard this fall. The high court agreed this week to decide the case of a man from the Dominican Republic. He has been denied American citizenship though his father was a U.S. citizen.

Last summer, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York sided with the man when it struck down a peculiar immigration law that has an unequal standard for men and women. The law requires an unwed father who is a U.S. citizen to spend at least 5 years living in the country before they can confer citizenship to a child born outside the U.S. to a partner who is not an American citizen.

A mother in the exact same set of circumstances is required to spend only a year in the U.S.

The Supreme Court has tried before to settle this issue, but it resulted in a 4-4 vote that settled nothing, Reuters reports. Justice Elena Kagan recused herself that time, and will presumably do so again. With Justice Scalia's passing, that would leave just 7 votes available, making another tie impossible.

The father of the man around whom the current case revolves is deceased. Though he was an American citizen, he did not meet the law's U.S. residency requirements for men. He fell just 20 days short of meeting the 5-year requirement.

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments this fall and issue a decision at some point next year, with June 2017 likely.

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