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POLSCI 319 LECTURE PRE-REQUISITE CASES 10/15/09 Ah Yup 1878 CA Question: Was someone of the Mongolian race “white” for purposes of naturalization? Answer: NO—this was not a difficult definition. “White” must be taken in its ordinary sense not referring directly to skin color but to members of the Caucasian (scientific, technical term. Whenever Courts use Caucasian, they are referring to science) race. Court also used legislative history—in 1870 when Africans were permitted citizenship, there was the question of whether Chinese should receive citizenship, and the answer was no. THREE main things Court uses for decision: popular knowledge, science, and historical precedent. Najour 1909 GA A Syrrian man wins his case. First successful litigation of someone’s status as white. Court says “white” refers not to color, but that the science of race says that Syrrians are Caucasian. So Syrrians are white for purposes of naturalization. Court says A.H. Keane, who says white includes people from Europe, N.Africa, Middle East, South Asia, Western Asia, Hawaiian islands. Implications of this: since all of these people from all of these countries are white, they should also get the same rights and be part of the body politic. But this was also the time when the eugenics movement was rising, of white purification. Court: fair or dark complexion should not be able to control the question of naturalization provided that the person seeking naturalization comes with the classification of white or Caucasian. [Najour] is not particularly dark, he has the qualifications of a Caucasian. Shahid 1913 SC Syrrian who is also a Christian. He is literate in Arabic but not English. His color is “light walnut” and has Asianic birth. Court: rejects science—rejects the conclusion that Syrrians are white. Court says to determine what white means, we have to use common knowledge, and we have to use common knowledge from 1790s. The term Caucasian is “loose and indefinite” Ozawa 1922 Supreme Court Plaintiff was Japanese, and Japanese have always been excluded. SO this was an easy case for the Courts. Thind
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  • Fall '09
  • White people, Supreme Court of the United States, Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, White American, Caucasian race

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