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It’s History: Korematsu v. United States

Korematsu v. United States

Korematsu v. United States was a 1944 U.S. Supreme Court case concerning Executive Order 9066 – the Japanese internment camps. It was a landmark case because the Court voted to uphold the constitutionality of the Order.

Case Background: On May 19, 1942, Japanese-Americans were forced to move into relocation camps. Fred Korematsu, a man of Japanese descent who was born in the U.S., decided to stay in San Leandro, CA, knowingly violating the order, arguing that the order violated the Fifth Amendment (protecting against abuse of government authority in legal proceedings). However, he was arrested and convicted – not because his loyalty to the U.S. was questioned, but for violating the order.

The Decision: In a 6-3 decision, the Court sided with the government in light of the uncertainty following the Pearl Harbor attack. The opinion, which was written by justice Hugo Black, stated that the need to protect against espionage outweighed Korematsu’s individual rights.

Eventually, Korematsu’s conviction was overturned. The Supreme Court decision itself, however, has never been explicitly overturned.

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1 thought on “It’s History: Korematsu v. United States”

  1. Cringing with you :\Last year I read a book that really opened my eyes about Japanese people in Canada during WWII: Obasan, by Joy Kogawa. It was a bookcrossing book that I have passed along since then, but you can read the journal entries if you're interested.Who would have guessed that the situation for Japanese-Canadian citizens was even worse than in the US? 😮

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