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Jew Ho v. Williamson
United States Circuit Court for the Northern District of California
103 F. 10 (1900)
The San Francisco Board of Health (the board of health) (defendant) passed a resolution that bubonic plague existed in the city and had to be stopped. Government officials acting under this resolution issued rules requiring all people of Chinese descent to be vaccinated with a particular serum if they wanted to leave the city limits. If a person of Chinese descent did not get this particular vaccine, the person was required to stay in specific, quarantined areas within the city limits. Jew Ho (plaintiff) was a San Francisco resident of Chinese descent who lived in a quarantined section of the city. The quarantine lines had been drawn on racial lines, sometimes skirting houses with residents of different races and deliberately including other houses and areas that were occupied by people of Chinese descent. Government officials admitted the quarantine lines were based on a belief that people of Chinese descent were more likely than other races to spread bubonic plague. Jew Ho sued to lift the quarantine lines, arguing that the quarantine was both an abuse of the government’s police powers and a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Morrow, J.)
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