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Korematsu v. US Case Brief

Summary of Korematsu v. US

 Japanese-American/US citizen.  Defies WWII military order that ordered JAs to camps.  Korematsu cited for misdemeanor violation and is put in jail.  Eventually files a habeus corpus petition.

(1)     Held: Constitutional restriction.  Govt purpose: national security, a “pressing public necessity’ → a high level interest.

(a)     This goes to show that not ALL restrictions based on race are unconstitutional

(b)    If the govt interest is high enough, it will trump the scrutiny of a race-based classification.

(c)     Here, two interests in conflict: race based classification v. highest level interest in national security

(d)    Racial antagonism is NEVER a compelling state interest that justifies violation of the 14th A

(2)     Dissents

(a)     Roberts: Two contradictory orders issued = violation of due process

(b)    Murphy: Accuses executive branch of “racism”  Situation not dangerous enough to justify martial law.  This is clearly about racial antagonism

(c)     Jackson: Military doesn’t always act w/in the Constitution.  But here, FIT is problematic—the scope of the order was too broad, included everyone.  Should figure out a process to who was loyal and who disloyal.

(3)     This is the last case that the US S.Ct. upheld a race-based classification



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