Type of Resources
The Japanese Pearl Harbor attack on December 7, 1941, marked the beginning of total war between the United States and Japan. On February 19, 1942, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, giving the military broad abilities to exclude any person(s) from prescribed military areas. Less than one week later, U.S. Army Lieutenant General John DeWitt began the process of removing Japanese Americans from their West Coast homes. Within four months of the Executive Order, the United States government forced over 100,000 Japanese Americans to abandon their lives and relocate to internment camps. Fred Korematsu, a twenty-three-year-old, natural-born American citizen, was arrested and jailed on May 30, 1942, for refusing to relocate to an assembly center. Arguing that the Executive Order violated his Fourteenth Amendment equal protection rights, Korematsu appealed his case to the United States Supreme Court, which ultimately affirmed his conviction in a 6-3 decision. The Supreme Court limited the Korematsu decision to its facts, thus giving it no precedential value and failing to establish a practicable standard for future cases where wartime military actions are challenged. This examination of the Korematsu case will bring further understanding to the historical background surrounding the high court’s decision, as well as the legal and social repercussions of Japanese internment.