Representative Clay Higgins Fails to Understand the Gravity of Claiming a Loss of Constitutional Rights

December 17, 2020

For Immediate Release

David Inoue, Executive Director dinoue@jacl.org, 202-607-7273

Sarah Baker, VP Public Affairs sbaker@jacl.org


On Friday, December 11, Representative Clay Higgins (LA-3) posted to his Facebook page a comparison of Japanese American WWII incarceration to the alleged disenfranchisement of Trump supporters in the recent elections. The Japanese American Citizens League condemns any attempts to equate the legitimate loss of constitutional rights of 120,000 Japanese Americans during WWII to the recent election results, in which all registered voters had the opportunity to cast their votes and be counted, resulting in the election of President-Elect Biden.

In his Facebook post, Representative Higgins asks, “if you were a Japanese American in WWII… would you just concede? Would you kneel?” in an apparent act of sedition. For Japanese Americans, there were absolutely no cases of treason or espionage that might have justified their mass incarceration.

Instead, Japanese Americans demonstrated their loyalty to our country and the constitution by standing up in many ways. The 442nd Regimental Combat Team, 100th Infantry Battalion, and Military Intelligence Service consisted of Japanese Americans serving their country while many of their family and friends were held, prisoner. They recognized the threat of totalitarianism that the Axis powers represented was a greater threat to our constitution than their own loss of rights. 

Others such as Gordon Hirabayashi, Fred Korematsu, and Min Yasui pursued their rights through the courts and in faith to the constitution, only to fall short before the Supreme Court. They were vindicated years later by the discovery of previously suppressed evidence that there was no military need for incarceration. Furthermore, there were thousands who also put their faith in the constitution and resisted from within the camps with their responses to the so-called “loyalty questionnaire”. The result of answering “no” to either questions 27 or 28 was additional punishment, as they were once again removed from their incarceration site and transferred to the Tule Lake Segregation Center or imprisoned in Federal prisons to be separated from their families and friends. 

Japanese Americans did not “take a knee” in the face of actual constitutional infringements, but the difference was that they were faced with actual constitutional injustice. To suggest that losing an election because more people voted for the opposing candidate is an infringement upon constitutional rights is an insult to the Japanese Americans who did lose their rights as American citizens.

JACL has reached out to Representative Higgins and acknowledge that he has expressed an interest in meeting though he is not available in the immediate future.

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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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