On This Date in Legal History

On October 12, 1944, the case Korematsu v. United States was argued before the United States Supreme Court.  Two years earlier a military order required Fred Korematsu to leave his home in San Leandro, California, and live in a detention camp for Americans of Japanese ancestry.  He refused.  He was charged and convicted of violating the order.  He petitioned the United States Supreme Court to overrule his conviction arguing that the order wasn’t justified.

Fred Korematsu at a press conference

Fred Korematsu at a press conference

Justice Hugo Black, who wrote the decision for the majority of the Court, didn’t agree.  The Court affirmed Korematsu’s conviction, refusing to second-guess the military’s decision to hold hostage an entire community of Americans, simply because of their ancestry. (Notably, Korematsu’s loyalty to the United States was never questioned.)  Justices Roberts, Murphy, and Jackson dissented, finding the military order unconstitutional.  Justice Roberts likened the detention areas to concentration camps.  Justice Murphy characterized the military order as racist. These three dissenting Justices proved correct.  In hindsight there was no need for these internment camps.  To learn more, visit http://www.korematsuinstitute.org/homepage/.

About Tina Nelson
Tina Nelson

Tina Nelson is an attorney and mom. She created the LAWSUIT™ board game to teach her three children about the law. The game was an instant success. Copyrights and a patent were obtained, and Professional Games, Inc. was born. Professional Games, Inc. created this blog to educate and keep its friends and customers regularly updated about our American legal system.
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