Why Does “Legitimacy” Matter in U.S. Nationality Law?

Photo Credit: Maryland GovPics 

By: Betsy L. Fisher


Update: Just after publication, the Supreme Court ruled in Sessions v. Morales-Santana that gender-based distinctions in U.S. nationality law violate the Fifth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause.


Bad law makes bad cases. The recent case of Miranda v. Sessions, clearly demonstrates this principle. In Miranda v. Sessions, an individual with close ties to the United States, whose mother naturalized while he was still a minor, was denied U.S. citizenship because of reliance on antiquated notions of parental responsibility and gender roles. Although U.S. case law largely prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender stereotypes, and the international community is working to eliminate gender discrimination in nationality law, Miranda illustrates a lingering form of discrimination in U.S. nationality law.

Despite the court’s attention to issues of res judicata, the broader question raised by the case is: what role do findings of “legitimacy” have in nationality law? “Legitimacy” is a legal concept defining the legal rights and obligations of children to fathers; traditionally, a child of unmarried parents did not have a legal relationship with the child’s biological father. But in the day of DNA testing, why do such distinctions still matter? Continue reading Why Does “Legitimacy” Matter in U.S. Nationality Law?

The Rust Belt Lost Clinton the Election, and Free Trade is Why


Photo Credit: Bob Jagendorf

By: Jessica M. Rose

America and the world are staring down the barrel of a Trump presidency – and it’s because Democrats failed to execute a principle they are supposed to be known for.

The states that gave the election to Trump were Rust Belt states: Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. These states were part of what were called the Clinton firewall, that she needed – and expected – to win in order to go on to win the presidency. I am of course not making the claim that xenophobia, islamophobia, racism, and sexism among other issues played no terrifying role in the election. The crucial states in question, however, were blue for Obama and have been for decades; Pennsylvania and Michigan haven’t been red since 1988, and Wisconsin hasn’t been red since 1984.

Michigan and Wisconsin, according to the best pollsters out there at Five Thirty Eight, were not supposed to even be in play this time. Their best information had her chances for Wisconsin at 83.5%, for Michigan at 78.9%, and for Pennsylvania at 77%. To be fair, if she lost them, she lost them by a tiny margin: at the time of writing, Trump had 47.9% of the vote and Clinton 46.9% in Wisconsin with 95% of the vote in, and Michigan was still too close to call with a 0.3% difference between the candidates. But these states weren’t supposed to be margin-of-error states; Clinton was supposed to have them in the bag.

Continue reading The Rust Belt Lost Clinton the Election, and Free Trade is Why




Photo Credit: Doran

Guest Post by: Arthad Kurlekar & Arindrajit Basu


On August 7th of this year, the Obama Administration finally declassified its internal guidelines (referred to as Presidential Policy Guidance’ or ‘PPG’), which supposedly details the United States’ parameters on the killing or capturing of alleged terrorists around the globe. The document provides some insight into the drone war bureaucracy leading to strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia. Despite redactions at crucial junctures in the document, it ostensibly answers many questions posed by the global community regarding the lawfulness of these clandestine programs. A closer look, however, shows that the document largely plays implicit lip-service to principles of International Law without providing concrete evidence that illustrates how this normative framework is implemented in the decision-making process. In a two-part post, we seeks to deconstruct and analyze the lacunae in this document with reference to lethal targeting by considering two key principles of International Law: (1) The Principle of Distinction and (2) Sovereign Equality. The first post deals with distinction while the analysis on sovereign equality is left for the second post. We argue that the PPG fails on two counts: first it fails to provide a nuanced classification of the targets in accordance with IHL and second, it fails to operationalise IHL principles when carrying out targeted killings.