Korematsu vs. the United States

Topics: United States Constitution, Japanese American internment, Supreme Court of the United States Pages: 9 (1908 words) Published: May 9, 2014

I chose the landmark case of Korematsu v. United States for this research paper. Back on December 7, 1941 the Japanese attacked US Naval forces in Pearl Harbor located in Hawaii. The next day the US declared war on Japan and everyone was in a panic wondering what would happen next. The United States joined World War II and all Japanese and Japanese-Americans were being rounded up and put into camps, because the US government was afraid that there could spies or that the people with a Japanese heritage could turn against America. Executive Order 9066 was put into place by President Roosevelt and this order made it possible to put anyone from full Japanese to even 1/16th into special facilities where they were seclude from the general population. Was the Executive Order unconstitutional or not? Fred Korematsu was a native born citizen of the US, but was of Japanese heritage and he was convicted on September 8, 1942 of being in a place where Japanese weren’t allowed. Korematsu then brought forth a petition to take away his conviction due to government misconduct. Eventually, the case reached the Supreme Court and in a 6-3 vote they sided with the government, because they said that the potential spying and espionage was more important than Korematsu’s Constitutional rights. From my research I have concluded that even though Korematsu got his case overturned in 1984 because of untruthful information it was still unfair that it is still deemed Constitutional that there were internment camps for Japanese-Americans. Amendments 1, 4, 5, 8, 13, 14, and 15 of the United States Constitution were all violated and I will explain why in this paper.

The Korematsu v. United States was argued on October 11 and 12, 1944 and was decided on December 18, 1944 (Touro College, 1997). Justice Black delivered the Court's opinion. Fred Korematsu, a Japanese-American citizen was arrested and convicted of staying in a "Military Area" in San Leandro, California (FindLaw, 2004). This was in violation of "Civilian Exclusion Order No. 34 of the Commanding General [323 U.S. 214, 216] of the Western Command, U.S. Army" (FindLaw, 2004). This order said that after May 9, 1942, any person of Japanese ancestry was not permitted to be in that area (FindLaw, 2004). It also violated an Act of Congress, 56 Stat. 173, 18 U.S.C.A. 97a, adopted on March 21, 1942.

These laws said that anyone knowingly violating the orders of restriction would "be guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction shall be liable to a fine of not to exceed $5,000 or to imprisonment for not more than one year, or both, for each offense" (FindLaw, 2004; Randall, 2004; Touro College, 1997). The petitioner, Korematsu, admitted knowing about the exclusion order and admitted he violated it (FindLaw, 2004). The order was issued after the country was at war with Japan. The various orders all noted that the country had to protect itself against any type of espionage or sabotage to the country's defense material, premises and utilities (FindLaw, 2004). This meant that Japanese-Americans who were in areas where there was also military bases had to leave that area. There was also a curfew order for all Japanese-Americans who lived in West Coast military areas, they were required to stay inside their homes between 8:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. (FindLaw, 2004).

The arresting officers, prosecutors, and the courts did not question Korematsu's loyalty to the country, he violated an order (FindLaw, 2004).
The court wrote that any restrictions that limited the rights of any single group of Americas "are immediately suspect" (FindLaw, 2004), however, the court also said that these kinds of restrictions are not necessarily unconstitutional. However, the court said they would subject such restrictions to "the most rigid scrutiny" (FindLaw, 2004). Public necessity could in fact "justify the existence of such restrictions" (FindLaw, 2004).

The curfew law had already been argued in...

References: Chemerinsky, Erwin. "Korematsu v. United States: A Tragedy Hopefully Never to Be Repeated - Pepperdine Law Review." Pepperdine Law Review. Digital Commons, 15 Dec. 2011. Web. 03 May 2014.
FindLaw. (2004). U.S. Supreme Court. Toyosaburo Korematsu v. UNITED STATES, 323 U.S. 214 (1944). Retrieved April 22, 2014, from http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=US&vol=323&invol=214
Jackson, Robert. "Fred Korematsu." The Robert H. Jackson Center. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 May 2014.
Konkoly, Toni. "Famous Dissents." PBS. PBS, n.d. Web. 02 May 2014. http://www.pbs.org/wnet/supremecourt/personality/landmark_korematsu.html
Randall, Vernellia R. (2004, April 11). Internment of Japanese Americans in Concentration Camps. Retrieved April 17, 2014, from http://academic.udayton.edu/race/02rights/intern01.htm#Korematsu
Smart, Chris. "Rights Violated to Japanese Americans." Rights Violated to Japanese Americans. Senate Publication 1028-s ( P. 30-34), 02 May 2000. Web. 01 May 2014. http://online.sfsu.edu/jaintern/rightsviolated.html
Touro College. (1997). Korematsu v. United States. Retrieved April 29, 2014, from
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