Facts and Case Summary — Korematsu v. U.S. May 30


About 10 weeks after the U.S. entered World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt on February 19, 1942 signed Executive Order 9066. The order authorized the Secretary of War and the armed forces to remove people of Japanese ancestry from what they designated as military areas and surrounding communities in the United States. These areas were legally off limits to Japanese aliens and Japanese-American citizens.

The order set in motion the mass transportation and relocation of more than 120,000 Japanese people to sites the government called detention camps that were set up and occupied in about 14 weeks. Most of the people who were relocated lived on the West Coast and two-thirds were American citizens. In accordance with the order, the military transported them to some 26 sites in seven western states, including remote locations in Washington, Idaho, Utah, and Arizona.


Fred Korematsu, 23, was a Japanese-American citizen who did not comply with the order to leave his home and job, despite the fact that his parents had abandoned their home and their flower-nursery business in preparation for reporting to a camp.  Korematsu planned to stay behind.  He had plastic surgery on his eyes to alter his appearance; changed his name to Clyde Sarah; and claimed that he was of Spanish and Hawaiian descent.

On May 30, 1942, about six months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the FBI arrested Korematsu for failure to report to a relocation center.  After his arrest, while waiting in jail, he decided to allow the American Civil Liberties Union to represent him and make his case a test case to challenge the constitutionality of the government’s order. Korematsu was tried in federal court in San Francisco, convicted of violating military orders issued under Executive Order 9066, given five years on probation, and sent to an Assembly Center in San Bruno, CA.

Korematsu’s attorneys appealed the trial court’s decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals, which agreed with the trial court that he had violated military orders.  Korematsu asked the Supreme Court of the United States to hear his case. On December 18, 1944, a divided Supreme Court ruled, in a 6-3 decision, that the detention was a “military necessity” not based on race. 

Source: and for the complete article … uscourts.gov

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