Chae Chan Ping v. United States

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Chae Chan Ping v. United States, 130 U.S. 581 (1889).

Facts: Appellant was a subject of China but he resided in SF from 1875 to June 2, 1887. On June 2, he left for China with a certificate that allowed him to return to the US. On October 8, 1888 he presented his certificate to the proper custom-house officers and demanded permission to land. The collector of the port refused to permit on the ground of the act of Congress passed on Oct 1, 1888 which prohibited Chinese laborer from entering the US who had departed before its passage, having a certificate under the act of 1882.

Issue: Whether the Act of 1888 is valid even though it violates existing treaties between the US and China and of rights vested under the laws of Congress?

Holding: Yes. The October 1888 Act is valid. Whatever permit the Chinese laborers may have obtained previous to the act are revocable at the will of the government at any time.

  • The act is not invalid just because it directly contradicts prior treaties
  • The court is only to interpret and apply the act to cases as they are presented for determination
  • The US has the right to exclude foreigners at any time


  • Natural Rights of Sovereignty
  • Structure of the Government closely related to natural