The Japanese American Cases
The Rule of Law in Time of War
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: University Press of Kansas
Title Page, Series Page, Copyright, Dedication
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Are the laws silent in time of war? The federal Constitution does not die when the United States goes to war. In fact, the Constitution provides for wartime exigency, for example, allowing Congress to suspend the writ of habeas corpus in time of war or civil insurrection. But nothing in the Constitution itself permits the wholesale...
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As World War II was coming to an end, Eugene V. Rostow (1913– 2002), an assistant professor in the Yale Law School, published two articles, one in his school’s law review, the other in Harper’s magazine, in which he coined the term the “Japanese American cases.” He addressed only the four Supreme Court cases stemming from President...
Chapter 1. The Facts behind the Cases
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In the spring of 1942, four young Nisei, second-generation Japanese Americans, acted to institute the lawsuits that became the Japanese American Cases. The litigants, Minoru Yasui (1916–1986), Gordon K. Hirabayashi (1918–2012), Fred T. Korematsu (1919–2005), and Mitsuye Endo (1920–2006), chose to resist government oppression...
Chapter 2. Challenging the Government
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The four litigants’ paths to the Supreme Court, including their decision- making processes, were as varied as their backgrounds. The first to act was twenty-five-year-old Minoru Yasui. The oldest and best educated, he was born and grew up in Hood River, Oregon, where his father ran a general store and was a leader of its sizable Nikkei...
Chapter 3. The Supreme Court Decides
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As the prosecution of the Japanese American cases was largely controlled by Edward Ennis, Roger N. Baldwin attempted a similar kind of domination of the defense. Baldwin was a founder of the ACLU and, as its only director, dominated it until 1950. After earning a master’s degree at Harvard, he taught sociology briefly at Washington...
Chapter 4. Closing the Camps
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As soon as the court decisions had been announced, on December 18, 1944, Secretary of the Interior Harold L. Ickes declared in a statement that he did not foresee a “hasty mass movement” from the camps to the West Coast. He made it clear that his War Relocation Authority would “intensify its efforts” to relocate loyal Japanese...
Chapter 5. Postwar Changes
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As the war came to an end, Japanese Americans continued to be a people in motion. Since the spring of 1942 almost all of the 120,000 who became WRA prisoners had moved at least three times, and many moved a good deal more than that. The same was true for the thousands interned in Department of Justice camps. The extreme...
Chapter 6. The Struggle for Redress
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The struggle for what Japanese Americans learned to call redress became the dominant issue in community life between the early 1970s and on into the 1990s, and arguments about the meanings of redress remain important issues in the ethnic community. But that struggle cannot be understood without an awareness of the transforming...
Chapter 7. Judicial Redress
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Although Eugene Rostow’s 1945 hope that the “basic issues” of the wartime Japanese American cases might “be presented to the Supreme Court again, in an effort to obtain [their] prompt reversal,” has not materialized, a special set of circumstances did result in a significant reopening of the three wartime cases that the government...
Conclusion: After Redress
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The redress movement, like no other event since their wartime ordeal, involved, eventually, almost all Japanese Americans in one way or another. More important than the tangible rewards, the psychological impact of redress was transforming. Even in Hawaii, where only a tiny fraction of the Nikkei population received direct benefit...
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Page Count: 240
Publication Year: 2013