Korematsu V. United States
On December 7, 1941 the Japanese Imperial Navy launched an attack on Pearl Harbor, the next day Congress declared war on Japan. Public opinion towards people of any “Asian” ancestry turned to racial hatred. Under political and public pressure Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 on February 19th, 1942 (Alonso 30). Enter one of the Dark times in American History, the imprisonment of its own citizens because of racial backgrounds. The act was attacked in the Supreme Court case “Hirabayasi v. United States,” though the Supreme Court upheld the order as “A means of National Security in war time” (Touro Law 2). In May of 1942 Fred Korematsu sued the United States. In a 6-to-3 vote the Supreme Court denied Fred Korematsu’s Argument and upheld the United States right to intern its citizens (Bai 38). Though the case was lost after it ended, falling behind a wall of repression and shame by both the Americans imprisoned, and the United States Government, the question still comes to mind: What affect did the Supreme Court case “Korematsu v. United States” have on United States and American History? On February 19, 1942 President Franklin Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066. Executive Order 9066 gave the military the right to move people deemed “Hazards to National Security” from areas where said hazards would threaten security, to areas (“camps”) where they could be monitored and kept supervised (Roosevelt). The order also states “The Secretary of War is hereby authorized to provide for residents of any such area who are excluded there from, such transportation, food, shelter, and other accommodations as may be necessary, in the judgment of the Secretary of War or the said Military Commander, and until other arrangements are made, to accomplish the purpose of this order.” The order gave the Military the authority to designate what area in which the “hazards” would be excluded from and moved to “safe” areas (Roosevelt).
The Order never singled out the Japanese, but the rising racial discrimination and the pure hatred of Japanese by the General in charge of the west coast defense, General John DeWitt. This causing trouble as DeWitt was quoted to be “Apt to waver under popular pressure” by Francis Brittle the US attorney general at the time (Alonso 25). DeWitt under Executive Order 9066 was able to do anything he deemed necessary to ensure national security. DeWitt put in place a curfew and under “Public Law 503” passed by Roosevelt, violation of DeWitt’s orders was a federal crime (Alonso 31).
In 1943, outraged at this order and with being convicted of violating curfew, Gordon Hirabayasi Sued the United States for Violating his 1st and 5th amendment rights. The case “Hirabayasi v. United States” went before the Supreme Court in 1943, in a Unanimous decision the court found the orders passed by Roosevelt and DeWitt against Japanese Americans Served a Military and National security purpose, and a “protective measure … in a time of war.” (Touro Law 7). In May of 1942 Fred Korematsu was charged with Violating Public law 503 by remaining in San Leandro, California and area in which those of Japanese ancestry where Prohibited (Touro Law 2). Similar to the crime Hirabayasi was charged with. Korematsu was not given prison time, but a 5 year probation sentence; the Army took him in to custody at the court house, despite the judge releasing him (Alonso 46). Korematsu believed his case was decided wrongly, so he filed for an appeal. On September 11, 1942 the appeal went before the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, Korematsu asked the court to reverse the conviction and clear it from his record. The Court of appeals handed the case to the Supreme Court, arguing if it was legal to appeal a probationary sentence. The Supreme Court Handed the case back to the Court of appeals declaring that an appeal could be made from a probationary sentence. The Court of appeals upheld...
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