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Attorney General Mentions Korematsu Case

By Korematsu Institute

Attorney General Eric Holder mentions the Korematsu case during his remarks at West Point’s Center for the Rule of Law Grand Opening Conference:

Of course, our nation has not always been immune to the impulse to sacrifice the timeless principles of the rule of law to the transient fears of the moment. Even presidents like Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Delano Roosevelt have sometimes erred under the pressures of war. So great are the demands to keep the country safe, so unrelenting the stress of the moment, that our nation’s leaders have sometimes forgotten that the rule of law protects us not just from our enemies, but also from our own worst instincts.

During World War II, fearful of Japanese infiltration of the West Coast, President Roosevelt confined nearly 120,000 people of Japanese descent to internment camps for three years without a single hearing or finding of fact. Two-thirds of those held without cause were American citizens, yet the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of Roosevelt’s internment order — proving that presidents are not the only leaders susceptible to grave errors during the heat of war. The court’s decision in Korematsu is inarguably one of the darkest moments in American constitutional history.