Korematsu vs U.S

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Kezia Howard 1 Kezia Howard Professor Myhre Law and Society 05 September 2010 I. KOREMATSU vs. UNITED STATES Korematsu vs. United States is a landmark Supreme Court case that involves the constitutionality of Executive Order 9066, known for interning Japanese Americans during World War II. Fred Korematsu was a U.S.-born Japanese American, who showed no signs of disloyalty, but stayed in San Leandro, California, deliberately violating Civilian Exclusion Order No. 34, which excluded all persons of Japanese ancestry from that area. Decided in Post Pearl Harbor hysteria, President Roosevelt granted these laws, in order to “protect” the Japanese Americans from hateful crimes and to prevent espionage during this wartime. This case, decided with a majority vote 6-3, ruled that the exclusion orders were constitutional. Korematsu vs. United States has been incredibly controversial due to the court’s decision that the need for national defense outweighed Korematsu’s individual rights guaranteed to him in the Fourteenth Amendment and the Due Process clause. Despite the military’s right to war powers, General DeWitt had no evidence of disloyalty among the Japanese Americans. This fundamental flaw in authority should have led the court to rule in favor of Korematsu against the internment camps, which was essentially a euphemism for concentration camps. By analyzing the different arguments in the case, majority, concurring, and dissenting, the reader can determine that the dissenting opinion held the most persuasive amount of evidence. II. MAJORITY OPINION Justice Black, Reed, Douglas, and Rutledge made up the majority opinion, focusing on the idea that this case, based on administrative orders by the military, has no regard to race.

Kezia Howard 2 They believe that the military has the power to make orders in times of war to protect national defense and to prevent espionage. Justice Black states that there are no contradictory orders from the military and Korematsu clearly violated Civilian Exclusion Order No. 34. To arrive at this conclusion, the opinion rests heavily on the Hirabayashi case as precedent, which stated that minority groups could be placed under curfew while the country was at war with the country that group originated from. Majority opinion states that it was constitutional to arrest Korematsu due to the question of his loyalty to the United States, which was impossible to test. The majority declared this quote regarding the internment of Korematsu, “Korematsu was not excluded from the Military Area because of hostility to him or his race. He was excluded because we are at war with the Japanese Empire and because the properly constituted military authorities feared an invasion of our West…” Based on the idea that this is an administrative issue and not a racial issue, the majority opinion believes that the threat to the country was more important than the rights of loyal citizens. III. CRITIQUE OF MAJORITY OPINION In this case the majority had a number of problems regarding their organization and evidence. Justice Black oversimplified several facts in the case and decided to leave out the negative aspects of their decision. However, it is clear that the majority used generalized language and a minor use of facts and evidence. Their argument was based solely on the argument that the military has the right to make any orders in times of war, which is coherently against the idea of checks and balances in the government. Despite the military’s hopes to prevent espionage, they should never have full power to take away the rights of citizens. There is an unclear use of the constitution in the majority opinion because it lucidly denies Korematsu of his rights stated in the Fourteenth Amendment. Also, there is a lack of legal support and they

Kezia Howard 3 simply state that it is not an issue of race, when it obviously is since there would be no crime if Korematsu was not of Japanese ancestry. There cannot be an order...
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