Justice Robert A. Jackson, Dissent in Korematsu v. United States (1944)

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Justice Robert A. Jackson, Dissent in Korematsu v. United States (1944)

Question 1

Justice Jackson comes to the defense of Korematsu, a Japanese man who had been arrested for refusing to turn himself into the military during the operation where people of Japanese descent were being taken to internment camps during the World War II. He argues that this man is not guilty of any crime and that his only violation was being present in the state where the Japanese were being alienated from the rest of the society. He further asserts that even though the military has the authority to and power to violate the constitutional protections, the courts should reject their actions and strongly disapprove them. He claims that the military is tasked with the responsibility of protecting its people, especially during times of war. Korematsu and other Japanese were Americans by birth because they were born on American soil, although by Japanese parents. Therefore, for the military to brutally alienate these people from the rest of the society, it was unlawful and against human rights. Granted, at the time, the world war had serious implications on the social and political lives of people, especially those in the warring fronts, but this still did not justify the military’s actions.

Additionally, he asserts that the army grossly violated the constitution in addition to refusing to protect it. It is the duty of the military to uphold and defend the constitution at all times. Therefore, its actions should conform to the Constitution. Furthermore, a military order, despite it being unconstitutional, should not last longer than the military emergency. The emergency arose from the sour American- Japanese relations during the World War II. The military order prevailed even after the emergency, which grossly defies the constitution. This was an example of the tendency of a principle to expand itself beyond logic, as stated by Judge Cardozo. Due to these reasons, Judge Jackson strongly felt that the courts should disapprove and condemn the military’s actions.

Question 2

From the excerpt, it has been stated that among the German, Italian, and American citizens, only Korematsu, a Japanese would have been considered to have violated the law by not turning himself in. The fact that he was Japanese disadvantaged him, simply because he was not Caucasian. It is important to note that at the time, America was also fighting against Germany and Italy. Therefore, nationals of these countries should have also been considered state enemies and convicted as well. However, only the Japanese was identified as the lawbreaker. A close look at the examples from the book, an alien German, Italian, and American, it is evident that the three groups of people belong to the Caucasian community. It was also definitely impossible for the Americans to fight against their people. The Japanese grouped as the colored people were the odd one out from the three. In addition to this, America was fiercely fighting Japan during the world war, which was probably considered their greatest foes, second to Germany. It was therefore very easy for the military to pick on the Japanese man, as nature would have it. This means that the Germans and Italian probably had a smoother experience in the United States as compared to the Japanese, and all this was because of racial discrimination by the Americans. The Caucasians evidently had a better chance of survival in America than the Orientals.

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