Korematsu v. United States
By Elizabeth Gonzalez
Awhile back in one of my many law courses we were asked to look at the original case for internment during World War ll. We had to write out the case brief summarizing it and then give our opinion. Of course, the opinion was written in APA format style long before I learned that in legal writing, thanks to my legal writing course, that in legal writing there are no “I’s,” “I believe, think, or feel.” Nonetheless, this was my case brief, which was later used by the Instructor for future reference examples for other students to follow.
Since my day’s blogging I have changed much. I look at this nation so differently now. I do see the United States as a “Nation of Laws” as former President George W. Bush had once put it. Only I see this nation fractured, undecided, divided, but in all that negativity I see hope. A hope that someday our nation will return to what our founding fathers had originally fought for and envisioned for this nation, one nation, under God.
Korematsu v. United States
1. Facts of the Case:
During World War II, Presidential Executive Order 9066 and congressional statutes gave the military the authority to exclude citizens of Japanese descent from areas determined crucial to national defense and potentially vulnerable to espionage. Korematsu remained in San Leandro, California and violated Civilian Exclusion Order No. 34 of the U.S. Army.
Did the President and Congress go beyond their war powers by implementing exclusion and restricting the rights of Americans of Japanese descent?
The Court sided with the government and held that the need to protect against espionage outweighed Korematsu's rights. Justice Black argued that compulsory exclusion, though constitutionally suspect, is justified during circumstances of "emergency and peril."
During wartime, I believe that it is justified to deprive Americans of their civil liberties if the safety of the nation and its citizenry is in question. During WW11, the Japanese were quite hostile and bold causing the Americans to become involved in the war due to the bombing at Pearl Harbor. The American’s of that era did not want to be involved. President Roosevelt knew of the impending disaster but chose not to act on the information he possessed. He decided that the only way to get us “in the war” was to allow Pearl Harbor to happen. As such, this now then involved all Americans. Our men were sent abroad. In the case for internment, it was justified to keep all American’s safe and free from harm because Japan wanted to destroy the United States, which was their primary goal. I believe no one knows for sure if there would have been conduct contrary to American law, such as espionage or otherwise by American Japanese citizens. One must consider the time and era; at that time, it appeared to be the right thing to do. To go back in retrospect and say that it is wrong for a nation to protect itself during a world war does not make sense.
This very case set precedent for our modern day equal protection law. (Hall. Feldmeier. Pg. 186.) In the wake of September 11, 2001, I can empathize with why our government would behave in this manner. Perhaps prior to September 11, 2001, I would not have agreed, but I do close saying that for their time, their era, a world war, this was the right thing to do. If our government does not protect us in the short run, we stand to lose everything in the long run.
Hall, Daniel E., Feldmeier P. 2009. The Presidency: Domestic Powers. 186-188. Constitutional Values. Retrieved on August 23, 2011. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Pearson Prentice Hall.