The dean of a California law school says the issue of birthright citizenship has been settled law since at least March 28, 1898, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on the case of a Chinese American who had been born in 1873 in San Francisco. The Court noted that its interpretation of the meaning of the 14th Amendment depends on the adoption of Anglo-American law dating back to 1608, long before the establishment of the nation. In a nutshell, any person born here is a U.S. citizen, according to the dean.
The Supreme Court case began in 1895, when the then 22-year-old man was denied re-entry to the United States following a trip to China, where much of his family still lived. It was a time of significant anti-Chinese feeling, just nine years after the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act, and though the Court recognized the man's rights as a U.S. citizen, he was forced to live and raise his family in China.