UNITED STATES v. WONG KIM ARK
The Chinese Exclusion Acts denied citizenship to Chinese immigrants. Moreover, by treaty no Chinese subject in the United States could become a naturalized citizen. Wong Kim Ark was born in San Francisco. At age 21, he returned to China to visit his parents who had previously resided in the United States for 20 years. When he returned to the United States, Wong was denied entry on the ground that he was not a citizen.
Could the government deny citizenship to persons born in the United States in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment?
No. The government could not deny citizenship to anyone born in the United States. To reach this conclusion, Justice Gray's tedious majority opinion managed to traverse much of western civilization.