Brief Fact Summary.
The petitioners, Japanese descents but American citizens, challenged the exclusion order requiring them to leave their homes and move to Relocation Centers.
Synopsis of Rule of Law.
All legal restrictions which curtail the civil rights of a single racial group are immediately suspect.
But once a judicial opinion rationalizes such an order to show that it conforms to the Constitution, or rather rationalizes the Constitution to show that the Constitution sanctions such an order, the Court for all time has validated the principle of racial discrimination in criminal procedure and of transplanting American citizens.View Full Point of Law
An Act of Congress of 1942 provides that whoever shall enter, remain in, leave, or commit any act in any military area or military zone prescribed, under the authority of an Executive order of the President, by any military commander designated by the Secretary of War, contrary to the order of any such military commander, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction shall be liable to a fine and imprisonment. Exclusion Order No. 24 was one of a number of military orders and proclamations, all of which were substantially based upon Executive Order No. 9066. That order declared that the successful prosecution of the war requires every possible protection against espionage and sabotage to national-defense material. Persons of Japanese descent, whether they were United States citizens, were forced to leave their homes and move to Relocation Centers. Petitioner knowingly and willfully violated the order.
Does the exclusion order requiring Japanese descents in America to leave their homes and move to Relocation Centers violate the Constitution?
No, we uphold the exclusion order as of the time it was made and when the petitioner violated it. In doing so, we are not unmindful of the hardships imposed by it upon a large group of American citizens. But hardships are part of war and war is an aggregation of hardships. All citizens alike, both in and out of uniform, feel the impact of war in greater or lesser measure. Citizenship has its responsibilities as well as its privileges, and in time of war the burden is always heavier. Compulsory exclusion of large groups of citizens from their homes, except under the circumstances of direst emergency and peril, is inconsistent with our basic governmental institutions. But when under conditions of modern warfare our shores are threatened by hostile forces, the power to protect must be commensurate with the threatened danger.
Like curfew, exclusion of the Japanese origin was deemed necessary because of the presence of an unascertained number of disloyal members of the group, most of whom we have no doubt were loyal to this country. 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. The judgment that exclusion of the whole group was for the same reason a military imperative answers the contention that the exclusion was in the nature of group punishment based on antagonism to those of Japanese origin. That there were members of the group who retained loyalties to Japan has been confirmed by investigations made subsequent to the exclusion.