The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the son of an American man and Mexican woman who was born in Tijuana is not entitled to U.S. citizenship, a law that many believe unfairly discriminates on the basis of gender, according to multiple reports.

Read the article “Gender Discrimination Law Upheld by Supreme Court.”

The court upheld a decision by a federal appeals court that denied citizenship to 36-year-old Ruben Flores-Villar in 2008.

The nation’s highest court was split four-to-four on the decision after Justice Elana Kagan recused herself, meaning the lower court’s decision was automatically upheld.

Flores-Villar’s parents were unmarried when he was born in Mexico, but he was largely raised by his American father in California. Federal law states that children born outside of the U.S. to an unmarried American parent are considered American citizens at birth only if the parent lived in the U.S. before the child was born.

However, the law says American mothers can transfer citizenship to their child after living in the states for a full year, while a man must prove he has lived in the U.S. for five full years after age 14. Because Flores-Villar’s father was 16 at his birth, the California court ruled that he is not a citizen.

Flores-Villar argued the policy is unlawful because there are major differences in its treatment of men and women.

However, the New York Times reports the court ruled against Flores-Villar, claiming it is constitutional to make it more difficult for a father to pass on citizenship since it is harder to confirm his relationship to the child.

Child custody laws in the U.S. also generally favor the mother, even if she is legally married to the father. Women receive primary guardianship of a child in about 70 percent of child custody cases, while less than 10 percent of all cases award primary custody to the father.

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