Wednesday, November 13, 2013

United States v. Wong Kim Ark case brief

United States v. Wong Kim Ark case brief summary
169 U.S. 649 (1898)

Appellant federal government officials challenged an order of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California that granted a writ of habeas corpus discharging appellee from the custody of appellants on the grounds that he was a citizen of the United States. Appellants argued that appellee was excluded from entry into the United States by virtue of acts of Congress known as the Chinese Exclusion Acts.

Appellant officials of the federal government challenged a writ of habeas corpus that was issued by a district court on behalf of appellee, who alleged that he was detained on his return to the United States and held on the grounds that he was not entitled to entry pursuant to acts of Congress that were known as the Chinese Exclusion Acts. Appellee alleged he was a natural-born citizen of the United States of Chinese descent and had been domiciled in the United States prior to a temporary visit to China. Appellants contended that appellee did not belong to any of the privileged classes enumerated in the Chinese Exclusion Acts, which would have exempted him from the classes of persons especially excluded by the provisions of the acts. Appellants, however, conceded that if appellee was a citizen, the Chinese Exclusion Acts, prohibiting persons of the Chinese race from coming into the United States, did not apply to him.

The United States Supreme Court affirmed the writ of habeas corpus on the grounds that the ancient and fundamental rule of citizenship by birth within the territory was constitutionally enshrined.

The writ of habeas corpus was affirmed based on the court's answer in the affirmative to the single question presented for determination as to whether a child born in the United States was a citizen if his parents were of Chinese descent and at the time of his birth were subjects of the Emperor of China.

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