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Korematsu v. United States

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Constitutional Law Keyed to Stone

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Citation. 323 U.S. 214, 65 S. Ct. 193, 89 L. Ed. 194, 1944 U.S. 1341.

Brief Fact Summary. During World War II, a military commander ordered all persons of Japanese descent to evacuate the West Coast. The Petitioner, Korematsu (Petitioner), a United States citizen of Japanese descent, was convicted for failing to comply with the order.

Synopsis of Rule of Law. Legal restrictions that curtail the civil rights of a single racial group are subject to the most rigid scrutiny. But, pressing public necessity may sometimes justify such restrictions.

Facts. President of the United States Franklin Roosevelt (President Roosevelt) issued an executive order authorizing military commanders to prescribe military areas from which any or all persons may be excluded. Thereupon, a military commander ordered all persons of Japanese descent, whether or not they were United States citizens, to leave their homes on the West Coast and to report to “Assembly Centers.” The Petitioner, a United States citizen of unchallenged loyalty, but of Japanese descent, was convicted under a federal law making it an offense to fail to comply with such military orders.

Issue. Was it within the power of Congress and the Executive to exclude persons of Japanese ancestry from the West Coast at the time that they were excluded?

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