Supreme Court Reverses Infamous Korematsu Decision that Allowed Japanese-American Internment

The United States Supreme Court has finally overturned the infamous Korematsu decision on Japanese-American internment during a hearing that also upheld President Donald Trump’s travel ban, 

In a 6–3 decision in 1944, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the government on the constitutionality of Executive Order 9066, which ordered Japanese Americans into internment camps during World War II regardless of citizenship.

While no one involved in the travel ban case had expressly asked for it, the controversial ruling has now been overturned on Tuesday after Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s heated argument with Chief Justice John Roberts.

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Sotomayor expressed her dissent to the majority’s ruling on the travel ban by comparing the decision to the Korematsu v. US case, noting the “stark parallels” in the reasoning.

“As here, the exclusion order was rooted in dangerous stereotypes about a particular group’s supposed inability to assimilate and desire to harm the United States,” Sotomayor wrote.

In response, Roberts berated her for using “rhetorical advantage,” saying the landmark case had “nothing to do” with Trump’s travel ban.

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Interestingly, Roberts’ disapproval with such comparison led him to announced that “Korematsu v. United States” was wrongly decided, essentially overruling the decision. 

Roberts noted that Sotomayor’s dissent “affords this Court the opportunity to make express what is already obvious: Korematsu was gravely wrong the day it was decided, has been overruled in the court of history, and — to be clear — has no place in law under the Constitution.'”

“The forcible relocation of U. S. citizens to concentration camps, solely and explicitly on the basis of race, is objectively unlawful and outside the scope of Presidential authority,” Roberts added.

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In the same hearing, the Court ruled in a 5–4 decision that President Trump’s travel ban (Executive Order 13780) was constitutional and within his powers as President. The case will now be returning to lower courts to review the ban on other merits.

Feature Image (left) via Flickr/Keithpr (CC BY 2.0)

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