YICK WO V. HOPKINS, 118 U.S. 356 ( 1886). Unanimous U.S. Supreme Court* decision invalidating a San Francisco ordinance prohibiting laundries in wooden (but not brick) buildings, presumably for safety reasons, but viewed as racially discriminatory against Chinese-owned businesses. The law was challenged by Yick Wo, who had been in the laundry business for 22 years. Wo claimed that the ordinance violated his Fourteenth Amendment* rights because of its discriminatory effects. The U.S. Supreme Court agreed, but this decision had little immediate impact because the composition of the Court soon changed and this decision had not overturned Plessy* ( 1896), despite the similarities. However, the Court had viewed a law equal on its face as discriminatory in practice, thus setting the stage for challenges concerning the equal component of Plessy's separate but equal* principle.
References: Greenberg, Crusaders in the Courts ( 1994); Nathan C. Margold, Preliminary Report to the Joint Committee Supervising the Expenditure of the 1930 Appropriation by the American Fund for the Public Service to the NAACP in Greenberg, Judicial Process and Social Change: Constitutional Litigation Cases and Materials ( 1977), 50- 57; Kluger, Simple Justice ( 1975).