legal history

Chinese Exclusion Act

The Chinese Exclusion Act, signed into law on May 6, 1882, by President Chester A. Arthur, effectively terminated Chinese immigration for ten years and prohibited Chinese from becoming US citizens. All Chinese persons- except travelers, merchants, teachers, students, and those born in the United States-were barred from entering the United States and Chinese residents, regardless of how long they legally worked in the United States, were ineligible to become naturalized citizens. The law was repealed by the Magnuson Act in 1943 during World War II.

Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857)

The U.S. Supreme Court decision in which the Court ruled that African Americans, whether enslaved or free, were not citizens of the United States and therefore did not have the right to sue in federal court. The Court also ruled that the federal government could not prohibit slavery in the territories. The decision was a prime factor leading to the Civil War, but was eventually rendered moot by the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution -- which provides that anyone born or naturalized in the United States is a citizen of the nation and of his or her state.

star chamber proceedings

Proceedings of any court or other government body that are held in secret and produce arbitrary results. This derogatory term takes its name from an English court, whose members were appointed by the crown, that met in the 15th to 17th centuries. That court, which met in a room that was apparently decorated with gilt stars, decided guilt and punishment of people accused of violating the monarch's orders. Its practices made "star chamber" synonymous with any unfair and secretive proceedings.

seduction

The use of charm, promises, and flattery to induce another person to have sexual intercourse outside of marriage, without any use of force or intimidation. At one time, seduction was a crime in many states, but seduction is no longer criminal (unless the seduced person is underage or otherwise unable to consent). However, seduction does linger in the criminal codes of some states.

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