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.
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/.