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Wong Wai v. Williamson
United States Circuit Court for the Northern District of California
103 F. 1 (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. Wong Wai (plaintiff) was a San Francisco resident of Chinese descent. Wong Wai sued for a court order preventing the board of health from enforcing the vaccination and quarantine rule, arguing that it was discriminatory. The board of health claimed that people of Chinese descent were more likely to get bubonic plague. However, the board of health had no evidence to support the claim. While reviewing the case, the district court noted that San Francisco’s charter gave the power to pass laws only to the Board of Supervisors, and the Board of Supervisors had not passed any laws relating to the bubonic-plague issue.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Morrow, J.)
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