We believe in recycling here at Obama Conspiracy Theories. It was last April when my article In re LOOK TIN SING appeared. Here, I cite more extensively from the decision of the Circuit Court in California in 1884. This case is a precursor to United States v. Wonk Kim Ark, with a similar Chinese citizen barred from re-entry into the United States. This case was decided in the same month as the law review article by George D. Collins was published, claiming that Chinese should never be citizens, that they must always be foreigners. These are the facts of the case as stated by the Court:
The petitioner belongs to the Chinese race, but he was born in Mendocino, in the state of California, in 1870. In 1879 he went to China, and returned to the port of San Francisco during the present month, (September, 1884,) and now seeks to land, claiming the right to do so as a natural-born citizen of the United States. It is admitted by an agreed statement of facts that his parents are now residing in Mendocino, in California, and have resided there for the last 20 years; that they are of the Chinese race, and have always been subjects of the emperor of China; that his father sent the petitioner to China, but with the intention that he should return to this country; that the father is a merchant at Mendocino, and is not here in Any diplomatic or other official capacity under the emperor of China.
In response to these facts, the Court said:
The first section of the fourteenth amendment to the constitution declares that “all persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States, and of the state wherein they reside.” This language would seem to be sufficiently broad to cover the case of the petitioner. He is a person born in the United States. Any doubt on the subject, if there can be any, must arise out of the words “subject to the jurisdiction thereof.” They alone are subject to the jurisdiction of the United States who are within their dominions and under the protection of their laws, and with the consequent obligation to obey them when obedience can be rendered; and only those thus subject by their birth or naturalization are within the terms of the amendment. The jurisdiction over these latter must, at the time, be both actual and exclusive. The words mentioned except from citizenship children born in the United States of persons engaged in the diplomatic service of foreign governments, such as ministers and ambassadors, whose residence, by a fiction of public law, is regarded as part of their own country….
With this explanation of the meaning of the words in the fourteenth amendment, “subject to the jurisdiction thereof,” it is evident that they do not exclude the petitioner from being a citizen. He is not
within any of the classes of persons excepted from citizenship, and the jurisdiction of the United States over him at the time of his birth was exclusive of that of any other country….
After an exhaustive examination of the law, the vice-chancellor said [in Lynch v Clarke] that he entertained no doubt that every person born within the dominions and allegiance of the United States, whatever the situation of his parents, was a natural-born citizen; and added that this was the general understanding of the legal profession, and the universal impression of the public mind. In illustration of this general understanding he mentions the fact that when at an election an inquiry is made whether the person offering to vote is a citizen or an alien, if he answers that he is a native of this country the answer is received as conclusive that he is a citizen; that no one inquires further; no one, asks whether his parents were citizens or foreigners. It is enough that he was born here, whatever was the status of his parents. He shows, also, that legislative expositions on the subject speak but one language, and he cites to that effect not only the laws of the United States, but the statutes of a great number of the states, and establishes conclusively that there is on this subject a concurrence of legislative declaration with judicial opinion, and that both accord with the general understanding of the profession and of the public.
Mr. Collins in the law review article found the decision in Lynch v. Clarke flawed. The California Federal Circuit Court of Appeals found it authoritative.
The court decided in favor of Look Tin Sing. The decision was not appealed.