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To what extent is it acceptable for the government to limit civil liberties in time of war?

During WWII many Americans felt that the Japanese might attack the West Coast of the United States. While today we realize that that was unlikely, it was a reasonable fear. As a result of that fear the United States excluded all those of Japanese ancestry from living on the west coast over a hundred thousand people were included. Over seventy thousand were imprisoned in concentration camps. Fred Korematsu, a Japanese American forced to move to one of these camps, challenged the government. Did the government have the right and the power to do away with due process in time of war? We shall see.

I. World War II - The Internment of Japanese Americans

A. How were Japanese Americans treated during World War II?

1. Considered a threat to national security.

2. Excluded from West Coast.

3. 120,000 placed in Camps - 70,000 were US citizens.

4. The government was not aware of any of the imprisoned actually being spys.

In accordance with executive order issued by the President of the United States and passed by Congress and in order to maintain national security the government of the United States hereby issues the following:

1) Any Japanese Nationals (citizens) are hereby excluded (not allowed) from the following states: California, Oregon, Washington.

2) Japanese Americans shall be excluded from the same states.

3) The aforementioned shall be transported to Interment Camps where they shall remain for the duration of the conflict.

This action has been taken to protect the West Coast of the United States from attack and acts of sabotage perpetrated by any agents of the Empire of Japan.

B. What was the result of the challenge - Korematsu v United States

1. Court upheld law, ruled there was a legitimate danger to national security (clear and present danger).

2. 20 years later Japanese Americans win a partial compensation as Congress officially apologizes.


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