Toyosaburo Korematsu v. United States
Decided on Dec. 18, 1944; 323 US 214


I. ISSUES II. CASE SUMMARY III. AMICI CURIAE IV. DECISION V. WIN OR LOSS?
I. ISSUES:

A. Issues Discussed: Racial discrimination, due process

B. Legal Question Presented:

Was the Exclusion order no. 34, which provided for the exclusion of people with Japanese ancestry from defined "Miliary Areas," beyond "the war power of Congress and the Executive" branches?

II. CASE SUMMARY:

A. Background:

"The petitioner, an American citizen of Japanese descent, was convicted in a federal district court for remaining in San Leandro, California, a 'Military Area', contrary to Civilian Exclusion Order No. 34 of the Commanding General of the Western Command, U.S. Army, which directed that after May 9, 1942, all persons of Japanese ancestry should be excluded from that area. No question was raised as to petitioner's loyalty to the United States.

The Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed." On certiorari the US Supreme Court affirmed.

B. Counsel of Record:
ACLU Side
(Petitioner/Appellant)
Opposing Side
(Respondent/Appellee)
Unavailable Unavailable
C. The Arguments:
ACLU Side
(Petitioner/Appellant)
Opposing Side
(Respondent/Appellee)
Unavailable Unavailable
III. AMICI CURIAE:
ACLU Side
(Petitioner/Appellant)
Opposing Side
(Respondent/Appellee)
Mr. Wayne M. Collins, of San Francisco, Cal., and Mr. Charles A. Horsky, of Washington, D.C., for petitioner. Mr. Charles Fahy, Sol. Gen., of Washington, D.C., for respondent.
IV. THE SUPREME COURT'S DECISION:

"Here, as in the Hirabayashi case '...we cannot reject as unfounded the judgment of the military authorities and of Congress that there were disloyal members of that population, whose number and strength could not be precisely and quickly ascertained. We cannot say that the war-making branches of the Government did not have ground for believing that in a critical hour such persons could not readily be isolated and separately dealt with, and constituted a menace to the national defense and safety, which demanded that prompt and adequate measures be taken to guard against it...'

It was because we could not reject the finding of the military authorities that it was impossible to bring about an immediate segregation of the disloyal from the loyal that we sustained the validity of the curfew order as applying to the whole group. In the instant case, temporary exclusion of the entire group was rested by the military on the same ground.

To cast this case into outlines of racial prejudice, without reference to the real military dangers which were presented, merely confuses the issue. Korematsu was not excluded from the Military Area because of hostility to him or his race. He was excluded because we are at war with the Japanese Empire, because the properly constituted military authorities feared an invasion of our West Coast and felt constrained to take proper security measures, because they decided that the military urgency of the situation demanded that all citizens of Japanese ancestry be segregated from the West Coast temporarily, and finally, because Congress, reposing its confidence in this time of war in our military leaders - as inevitably it must - determined that they should have the power to do just this."

The US Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Court of Appeals.

Justice Vote: 3 Pro vs. 6 Con

  • Roberts, O. Pro (Wrote dissenting opinion)
  • Murphy, F. Pro (Wrote dissenting opinion)
  • Jackson, R. Pro (Wrote dissenting opinion)
  • Black, H. Con (Wrote majority opinion)
  • Frankfurter, F. Con (Wrote concurring opinion)
  • Reed, S. Con (Joined majority opinion)
  • Stone, H. Con (Joined majority opinion)
  • Rutledge, W. Con (Joined majority opinion)
  • Douglas, W. Con (Joined majority opinion)
V. A WIN OR LOSS FOR THE ACLU?

The ACLU, as amicus curiae, urged reversal of the judgment of the court of Appeals; the Supreme Court affirmed in a 3-6 vote, giving the ACLU an apparent loss.