Chung Fook v. White

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Chung Fook v. White
Seal of the United States Supreme Court.svg
Argued February 26, 1924
Decided April 7, 1924
Full case name Chung Fook v. Edward White, Commissioner of Immigration for the Port of San Francisco
Citations 264 U.S. 443 (more)
44 S.Ct. 361, 68 L.Ed. 781
Prior history 287 F. 533 (9th Cir.), cert. granted, 262 U.S. 740 (1923).
Court membership
Case opinions
Majority Sutherland, joined by Taft, McKenna, Holmes, Van Devanter, McReynolds, Brandeis, Butler, Sanford
Laws applied
Immigration Act of February 5, 1917, ch. 29, § 22, 39 Stat. 891.

Chung Fook v. White, 264 U.S. 443 (1924), was a landmark Supreme Court case. It was significant in that it marked the end of the era of strict plain meaning interpretation of statutes and the beginning of the looser American Rule that the intent of the law was more important than its text.

A man did not have the automatic right to bring his wife to the United States if he married her after he entered there even if that exception was not explicitly mentioned in the law. The Court recognized that the statute did not seem to make sense the way it gave a particular right to a naturalized citizen that a native-born citizen (Chung Fook) was not permitted. The Court therefore stated that the issue of a law discriminating against native-born citizens was not for the courts to fix; it was the job of Congress to write laws that made sense and the job of the courts "is simply to enforce the law as it is written, unless clearly unconstitutional."

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