Citizenship for Child Born Outside the Us to Unmarried Parents When Only One Parent Is a Citizen

In Tuan Anh Nguyen v. Immigration & Naturalization Serv. (533 US 53 [June 11, 2001]), the Court examined the legislative scheme that determined how a child, born outside the United States, acquired citizenship when the parents were not married and when only one parent is a citizen, in this case the father. The case relates to this decision insofar as it shows again how courts do not approach family-based constitutional issues from a child-focused point of view. Nguyen is analyzed from a gender-based, equal protection point of view. On a surface level, it should be. However, it can also be looked at as a child's rights case that allocates a very important right, citizenship, based on the child's relationship to his mother or father. It is surely true that motherhood and fatherhood are inextricably linked to gender, but when this case is looked at through the child's eyes, gender becomes a secondary characteristic. When this happens, one can view the equal protection issue much differently.