Fred Korematsu challenged the constitutionality of Executive Order 9066 which authorized removal and incarceration of Japanese Americans from the west coast of the United States. The Supreme Court upheld the federal government’s powers to do so on the principle of “military necessity.” This decision would be vacated in the 1980s, when the courts found that they had been misled by federal prosecutors who hid the fact that there was no evidence of espionage or treason by Japanese Americans. Nevertheless, the courts let stand the principle of military necessity.
Argued October 11, 12, 1944
Decided December 18, 1944
323 U.S. 214
1. Civilian Exclusion Order No. 34 which, during a state of war with Japan and as a protection against espionage and sabotage, was promulgated by the Commanding General of the Western Defense Command under authority of Executive Order No. 9066 and the Act of March 21, 1942, and which directed the exclusion after May 9, 1942, from a described West Coast military area of all persons of Japanese ancestry, held constitutional as of the time it was made and when the petitioner — an American citizen of Japanese descent whose home was in the described area — violated it.
2. The provisions of other orders requiring persons of Japanese ancestry to report to assembly centers and providing for the detention of such persons in assembly and relocation centers were separate, and their validity is not in issue in this proceeding.
3. Even though evacuation and detention in the assembly center were inseparable, the order under which the petitioner was convicted was nevertheless valid.