United States v. Fred Korematsu

Listeners and followers of the show, I have heard your repeated attempts to spice up the In Summation library by bringing on a co-host to discuss legal issues and topics, and I am giving you what you want.  In this episode I brought on Robert Gottlieb of Robert C. Gottlieb and Associates, my law firm, to discuss the sensitive topic of the delicate balance between civil rights/civil liberties and national security and safety.  I think subscribers of the show will be pleased with the results.

For those unfamiliar with the name Fred Korematsu, he became the face of one of the greatest conflicts between civil liberties and national security in the history of America.

After the Japanese bombed the U.S. military base in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, the United States was thrust into World War II.  Almost immediately after the attack, there was wide-ranging hysteria about the approximately 112,000 people of Japanese descent living on the west coast (a very large population of which were American citizens).  Prominent figures in the military and government, supported by the media, advocated for the expulsion of all Japanese from California, Oregon, Washington and parts of Nevada and Arizona.

Ultimately, President Franklin Roosevelt signed the exclusion order relocating the Japanese to interment camps in the middle of the country, where they would be prevented from supporting Japan's war effort, despite not a single instance of even attempted sabotage or harm to the United States from any Japanese person.

Fred Korematsu was living in San Francisco when the order was signed.  He refused to leave.  Fred was not a political activist, he was not attempting to take a bold stand against injustice, he was a patriotic 21 year old, in love with his Italian-American girlfriend, who would not leave California.  He actually attempted several times to help the United States war effort, but was rebuffed at every turn.

Fred was arrested, convicted of violating the order and his case was appealed to the 9th Circuit and then all the way to the Supreme Court, who were forced to confront the issue of whether the government could intern a whole class of people in the name of national security.

The result was one of the most disturbing Supreme Court opinions ever written, one which many justices in the 6-3 majority later said was their greatest regret while serving on the highest court in the country.

I hope you enjoy this unique co-hosted episode and my conversation with Robert Gottlieb.  If you are new to the show, please subscribe and listen to the other episodes. 

Leave me feedback at [email protected], tweet me @insummationpod or find me on our law firm's website www.robertcgottlieblaw.com.

Thanks for listening!

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