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Event Recap: Re-Enactment of Chy Lung v. Freeman (22 Lewd Chinese Women)

On March 20, 2018, CABA, in conjunction with Loyola University Chicago School of Law’s APALSA Chapter, presented a re-enactment of the first U.S. Supreme Court case involving a Chinese litigant. Actors and actresses consisted of practicing lawyers, sitting judges, law students, and members of the Chinese American community. Over 100 people were in attendance. The event took place at Loyola University Chicago School of Law‘s Power Rogers Smith Ceremonial Courtroom.

About Chy Lung v. Freeman:

In 1875, 22 women from China, including Chy Lung, were passengers on a ship that journeyed from China to San Francisco. An immigration commissioner, who inspected passengers arriving in California (as allowed by a California state statute passed in 1875) had the ability to deny passsengers who he identified as “lewd and debauched” entry to the United States. In this case, the immigration commissioner examined the passengers and identified Chy Lung and other women (unmarried) as “lewd and debauched.” Facing deportation and detained aboard the ship they had traveled in, the women sued out a writ of habeas corpus. These women refused to be deported to China, and appealed the decision to deport them. The Supreme Court of California upheld the constitutionality of the statute used to deny the women’s entry into the United states, and upheld their deportation. The women subsequently appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

On October 1, 1875, the Supreme Court decided unanimously in favor of Chy Lung, noting that the federal government, and not the state government, was in charge of immigration policy and diplomatic relations with other nations, rejecting the contention that the State of California could impose restrictions on Chinese immigration.

Our event was made possible with grants from NAPABA and ISBA; use of AABANY‘s script; and corporate sponsorships from Fragomen, Kaufman Dolowich & Voluck LLP, Law Office of Rachel Kao, and the Sokol Group.

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