The Supreme Court protected the long-standing meaning of the first portion of the Fourteenth Amendment regarding citizenship in the face of government attempts to render it meaningless.

Wong Kim Ark, a person of Chinese descent born in the United States, was denied entry to the United States when trying to return from a visit to China. The government claimed that Wong lost his citizenship when he returned to China for a visit. By 6-2 vote, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Wong, holding that the phrase in the Fourteenth Amendment that reads “all persons born…in the United States…are citizens of the United States” meant as it had historically meant under common law that citizenship depended on place of birth (jus soli) not on the nationality of the parents (jus sanguines) as the government now contended. This was an extremely important victory for Chinese Americans during a time of intense anti-Chinese sentiment. Chief Justice Melville W. Fuller and Justice John Marshall Harlan dissented.Fourteenth AmendmentCitizenship;Wong Kim Ark, United States v.[Wong Kim Ark, United States v.]Fourteenth Amendment

Chinese Exclusion Cases


Due process, substantive

Equal protection clause

Fourteenth Amendment

Immigration law