Korematsu v. United States
Japanese Internment, Equal Protection (1944)
When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the American military became concerned about the security of the United States, particularly along the West Coast. At the time, about 112,000 people of Japanese descent lived on the West Coast; about 70,000 of these were American citizens. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Executive Order 9066. This authorized the Secretary of War or any designated commander, at their sole discretion, to limit and even prohibit some people from being in certain areas. Soon after the order was enacted, Congress sanctioned the executive order by passing a law that imposed penalties for those who violated the restrictions that evolved from the order. The ensuing restrictions on people of Japanese origin included curfews and forced removal to assembly and relocation centers much farther inland. Relocation to these centers was called internment.
Fred Korematsu was an American-born citizen of Japanese descent who grew up in Oakland, California. When Japanese internment began in California, Korematsu ran away to a nearby town to avoid being put in an internment camp. He also had some facial surgery, changed his name and said he was Mexican-American. He was later arrested and convicted of violating Exclusion Order No. 34 issued by General DeWitt, which banned all persons of Japanese descent from the military area of San Leandro, California. Korematsu challenged his conviction on the grounds that the relocation orders were beyond the powers of Congress, the military authorities and the President. The government argued that the exclusion and internment of Japanese Americans was justified because it was necessary to the war effort. They said there was evidence that some Japanese Americans were involved in espionage, and argued that since there was no way to tell the loyal from the disloyal, all people of Japanese...
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