U.S. Supreme Court
Chew Heong v. United States, 112 U.S. 536 (1884)
Chew Heong v. United States
Argued October 30, 1884
Decided December 8, 1884
112 U.S. 536
The fourth section of the act of Congress approved May 6, 1882, c. 126, as amended by the Act of July 5, 1884, c. 120, prescribing the certificate which shall be produced by a Chinese laborer as the "only evidence permissible to establish his right of reentry" into the United States, is not applicable to Chinese laborers who, residing in this country at the date of the Treaty of November 17, 1880, departed by sea before May 6, 1882, and remained out of the United States until after July 5, 1884.
The rule reaffirmed that repeals of statutes by implication are not favored, and are never admitted where the former can stand with the new act.
Courts uniformly refuse to give to statutes a retrospective operation, whereby rights previously vested are injuriously affected, unless compelled to do so by language so clear and positive as to leave no room to doubt that such was the intention of the legislature.
Chew Heong, a Chinese laborer, arrived in the United States chanrobles.com-redchanrobles.com-red
November 17, 1880, remained in the country until June, 1881, departed then for Honolulu, where he remained until September, 1884, when he returned to the United States. During the period of his absence, the Chinese Restriction Acts of May 6, 1882, 22 Stat. 58, and July 5, 1884, 23 Stat. 115, were enacted. As he had no certificate as required by those acts, the authorities of the United States did not permit him to land. Being detained upon the vessel in the harbor of San Francisco, he filed in the Circuit Court of the United States for the District of California his petition for a writ of habeas corpus, alleging that he was unlawfully deprived of his liberty on the steamship, as he did not come within the restrictions of the statutes. Mr. Justice Sawyer ordered the writ to issue. On the hearing before MR. JUSTICE FIELD and Judge Sawyer, there being a division of opinion, the writ was discharged and the petitioner remanded, and a certificate was entered of division of opinion on the following questions:
1. Whether the provisions of § (four) 4 of the "Act to execute certain treaty stipulations relating to Chinese," approved May 6, 1882, as amended by the Act approved July 5, 1884, prescribing the certificate which shall be produced by Chinese laborers as the "only evidence permissible to establish a right of reentry" into the United States, are applicable to Chinese laborers who were residing in the United States on November 17, 1880, and who departed from the United States by sea prior to May 6, 1882, and remained out of the United States till after July 5, 1884?
2. Whether upon the record and facts herein set forth and stated the petitioner is entitled to reenter the United States and to land from said steamship under the provisions of the said amended restriction act?
3. Whether a Chinese laborer who was residing in the United States on November 17, 1880, and departed from the United States by sea before May 6, 1882, remaining out of the United States till after July 5, 1884, is entitled to reenter the United States by steamship and to land therefrom without producing to the collector the certificate prescribed by § four of the said restriction act, as amended July 5, 1884? chanrobles.com-redchanrobles.com-red
This writ of error was sued out by the petitioner.
The treaties and statutes upon which the petitioner's contention was founded are so fully set forth in the opinion, that it is only necessary to refer to it.