JACL Disappointed with Supreme Court Decision

June 26, 2018 Press Release
Contact: Jeffrey Moy, Vice President for Public Affairs, jmoy@jacl.org
David Inoue, Executive Director, dinoue@jacl.org

In a 5-4 decision today, the Supreme Court affirmed that the religious animus towards Islam can be ignored so long as the resulting policy appears on its face to be legitimately derived. This is exactly the logic that allowed 120,000 Japanese Americans to be incarcerated during World War II. JACL is deeply disappointed that the Supreme Court has misinterpreted the lessons from Korematsu, Hirabayashi, and Yasui.

During World War II, the government made the case for military necessity, and the court willingly accepted that argument, ignoring the clear racist intent. Today, the parallels are clear with public statements from the President defining his intent to ban Muslims from entering our country. The majority opinion repudiates the racism at the heart of Korematsu, yet ignores the religious animus that has clearly guided the formation of the Muslim Ban.

The majority decision states: “Whatever rhetorical advantage the dissent may see in doing so, Korematsu has nothing to do with this case. The forcible relocation of U. S. citizens to concentration camps, solely and explicitly on the basis of race, is objectively unlawful and outside the scope of Presidential authority. But it is wholly inapt to liken that morally repugnant order to a facially neutral policy denying certain foreign nationals the privilege of admission.”

Many would have also argued that the Japanese exclusion orders were “facially neutral” and we remind the court that Executive Order 9066 did not specify Japanese or Japanese Americans and was used to target small numbers of Germans and Italians. However, in its application, it was entirely discriminatory in its effect, and that is what the court has failed to recognize in its ruling today.

We urge Congress to take action and rein in the anti-immigrant and anti-family policies of this president. Congress has the power to stop this discrimination and must act now.

The Japanese American Citizens League is a national organization whose ongoing mission is to secure and maintain the civil rights of Japanese Americans and all others who are victimized by injustice and bigotry. The leaders and members of the JACL also work to promote cultural, educational and social values and preserve the heritage and legacy of the Japanese American community.

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