Based on principles of federalism, the Chy Lung decision put limitations on the extent to which the states might restrict the admission of persons into the country.
When Chy Lung, a subject of the emperor of China, arrived in San Francisco, immigration officials classified her and twenty other women as “lewd and debauched.” In order for the women to be admitted, California law required a bond of five hundred dollars in gold from each of them. Unable to obtain the money, and refusing to return to China, the women were held as prisoners in the custody of San Francisco’s sheriff. The state’s high court upheld the constitutionality of the statute.
The Supreme Court, however, ruled unanimously that the statute was “in conflict with the Constitution of the United States, and therefore void.” Writing the rationale for the decision, Justice
Chang, Iris. The Chinese in America: A Narrative History. New York: Viking Press, 2003. McClain, Charles J. In Search of Equality: The Chinese Struggle Against Discrimination in Nineteenth-Century America. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994.
Chae Chan Ping v. United States
Chin Bak Kan v. United States
Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882
Fong Yue Ting v. United States
Supreme Court, U.S.