The Obama administration has declined an opportunity to repudiate the Korematsu decision that upheld the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II, reports Reasons.com, a libertarian publication(Photo by Lia Chang).
A case now before the court presents very similar issues that Korematsu did in 1944. In Hedges v Obama, the plaintiffs are challenging a section of the National Defense Authorization Act that allows the president to indefinitely detain terrorism suspects.
In their letter to the Solicitor General, several prominent civil rights attorneys, including Dale Minami, Don Tamaki and Peter Irons, wrote:
A request by your Office that the Court formally overrule the internment decisions would fulfill the duty of absolute candor that was sadly lacking in the government’s briefs and arguments in 1943 and 1944. Should you decide not to make such a request, however, we urge that your Office make clear in its response to the Hedges petition that the government does not consider the internment decisions as valid precedent for governmental or military detention of individuals or groups without due process of law, and as not among any “authorities” to which Sec. 1021(e) [of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012] refers.
But in its response to the Hedges case, the White House failed to mention Korematsu.
Korematsu is widely considered by constitutionalists and civil rights advocates a bad decision, but 70 years later, it still has not been overturned by the court.
You can read more about the significance of the case on Reasons.com.