World War II began in September, 1939 with the Nazi German invasion of Poland. However, the United States joined the war after 2 years of remaining neutral and only giving aid the European Allies.
Congress officially agreed to join the war in 1941 because of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Less than 3 months after entering the war, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 in 1942. This Order gave the military the authority to displace or remove people of Japanese heritage from places that the Secretary of War and the armed forces considered military areas and its neighboring regions.
These ranges were deemed essential to national security and were legally off limits to Japanese immigrants and Japanese-Americans. As a result, over 120,000 Japanese people, most of them American citizens, were relocated to “detention camps” where they stayed in for about 14 weeks. After this, the military transported them to sites in western states such as Washington, Arizona, and Utah.
In spite of the order, Fred Korematsu, a 23-year-old Japanese-American citizen refused to leave the area and report to a camp like his parents had. He changed his name to Clyde Sarah, and claimed he was a person of Spanish and Hawaiian descent. However, Korematsu was arrested by the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) on May 30th, 1942 for not reporting to a relocation center. The outcome of his case in federal court was that he was given 5 years on probation for violating military orders approved by in the executive order. The decision was appealed to the U.S Court of Appeals and had the same results: that Korematsu had went against the orders from the military. He then took his case to the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court ruled 6-3, in favor of the U.S and against Korematsu. The Supreme Court’s decision for this case was wrong because the nation’s security concerns were not enough to take away the civil rights of Korematsu and because of the U.S Supreme Court decision of “Ex Parte Endo”.
Firstly, in the months between the attack on Pearl Harbor and the implementation the Order, no Japanese or Japanese American person was convicted or condemned for sabotage. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, an American harbor in Hawaii, caused the military to fear an attack on the continental U.S. They became suspicious of all Japanese people, even loyal Japanese-American citizens. This is the main cause for the implementation of Executive Order of 9066.
By forcing people to report to detention camps and moving them away from their homes, this took away the rights of the Japanese people and Japanese-Americans. Under the Fifth Amendment, it states that “No person shall…be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law….” In other words, these people did not have their right to a trail when being suspected of committing espionage and instead were forcibly confined to the camps for weeks at a time. As a result, they had a lack of the freedoms that were assured to every citizen. They were denied the specific and important rights that the country promises to every citizen, simply because they were of Japanese descent. It is understood that the country was in a state of war and the military had concern for the areas deemed essential to national security.
However, this is not essential enough to take away the rights of thousands of people. Secondly, the decision of “Ex Parte Endo”, released on the same day as Korematsu v. U.S, supported the idea that the court’s decision was wrong, even though it did not directly address Executive Order 9066 and its constitutionality. Ex parte endo stated that the U.S government and military could not keep citizens detained if they are “concededly loyal” to the U.S. In other words, the detention camps that the Japanese and Japanese Americans were being held at were no longer allowed to hold the citizens who proved to be nothing but loyal to the U.
S. This corresponds with the previously stated reason that explains that the people in the camps were denied their due process. If there was no reason to suspect disloyalty, then that person cannot be help at the camps. This allowed many Japanese people to return to the West Coast where they lived before being forced to leave. It also led to the closing of the detention camps in the U.S. However, the decision of Korematsu’s court case was still valid and upheld.
This was wrong because the ex parte endo decision went against the one of main issues of the Supreme Court case. On the other hand, the defendant argued with the results of the case that went in their favor. One counter argument was that the court’s decision was right because in Article 2, Section 2 of the Constitution, it is stated that the President has the power to issue orders to allow the military to protect the nation. To expand, since the President is the commander in chief of the military, he can make orders for the military to carry out in the best interest of the nation. However, it is believed that the Constitution should not be distorted to approve all military rules.
The Constitution and Bill of Rights should protect the rights of the people, not limit them, even in times of war. Justice Robert Jackson states that the order was “the legalization of racism” that violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. According to the majority opinion, the issues of racial discrimination was not necessary to be confronted in the case. However, the discrimination of Japanese and Japanese-Americans was apparent in the Order and should have been addressed in the original court case. In conclusion, the Supreme Court’s decision for Korematsu v. United States was wrong because the nation’s security concerns were not enough to deny the rights of Korematsu and because of the U.S Supreme Court decision of “Ex Parte Endo”. By forcing Japanese people and Japanese-Americans to report to detention camps, the order took away their rights.
Also, Ex parte endo stated that the U.S government and military could not keep citizens detained if they are “concededly loyal” to the U.S. Although the president has the power to issue orders as commander in chief of the military, the power as commander in chief should not be used to take away the rights of loyal citizens. Therefore, the Supreme Court case of Korematsu v.
United States was wrongly decided.