Why we are here

Tom West tomwest at ACAD.UDALLAS.EDU
Thu Sep 13 16:10:52 PDT 2001

On the Korematsu case:

There is a constitutional provision that was written
precisely for this sort of occasion, namely, the suspension
of habeas corpus "in cases of rebellion or invasion [when]
the public safety may require it."

American territories such as Guam and Wake Island had
been invaded and were under continuous occupation by
Japanese forces from December 1941 on.

Lincoln used this provision with great effectiveness during
the rebellion that we call the Civil War.

Why wasn't the internment of Japanese-Americans justified
under the same provision? Whatever one may think today
about the reasonableness of the fear, it is obvious that
many Americans feared that many people of Japanese
ancestry would do everything they could to help the
Japanese forces that were then, in alliance with Hitler,
attempting to defeat or conquer America.

I have never understood why the government did not use
this argument in the Korematsu case.

Tom West
Prof of Politics, U of Dallas

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