Miller v. Albright

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Miller v. Albright
Seal of the United States Supreme Court.svg
Argued November 4, 1997
Decided April 22, 1998
Full case name Lorelyn Penero Miller v. Madeleine K. Albright, Secretary of State
Citations 523 U.S. 420 (more)
118 S.Ct. 1428; 140 L.Ed.2d 575
Prior history Certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit; 96 F.3d 1467
A law providing narrower standards for United States citizenship for a child born abroad out of wedlock to an American father, as opposed to an American mother, was justified by important government interests and did not violate the equal protection guarantee of the Fifth Amendment.
Court membership
Chief Justice
William Rehnquist
Associate Justices
John P. Stevens · Sandra Day O'Connor
Antonin Scalia · Anthony Kennedy
David Souter · Clarence Thomas
Ruth Bader Ginsburg · Stephen Breyer
Case opinions
Plurality Stevens, joined by Rehnquist
Concurrence O'Connor, joined by Kennedy
Concurrence Scalia, joined by Thomas
Dissent Ginsburg, joined by Souter, Breyer
Dissent Breyer, joined by Souter, Ginsburg
Laws applied
U.S. Const. amend. V

Miller v. Albright, 523 U.S. 420 (1998), was a United States Supreme Court case in which the Court upheld the validity of laws relating to U.S. citizenship at birth for children born outside the United States, out of wedlock, to an American parent. The Court declined to overturn a more restrictive citizenship requirement applying to an illegitimate foreign-born child of an American father, as opposed to a child born to an American mother under similar circumstances.

Lorelyn Miller was born in the Philippines to an American father and a Philippine mother (who were not married). She later applied for a U.S. passport, but was turned down on the grounds that she was not a U.S. citizen. Miller challenged the law under which she had been denied citizenship, claiming that the law was unconstitutionally discriminatory because it imposed stricter requirements for a foreign-born illegitimate child of an American father than would have applied if her American parent had been her mother.

Six of the nine justices of the Supreme Court rejected Miller's challenge to the law, in three separate opinions that denied her citizenship claim for different reasons. Three justices dissented, agreeing with Miller that the law in question was impermissibly discriminatory and should have been struck down.

A subsequent case, Nguyen v. I.N.S., 533 U.S. 53 (2001), held by a 5–4 majority that the law at issue in the Miller case was acceptable.


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