Korematsu v. United States, 323 U.S. 214 (1944)

Mr. Justice BLACK delivered the opinion of the Court.

CORE TERMS: military, assembly, ancestry, sabotage, evacuation, espionage, curfew, relocation, zone, detention, commander, convicted, proclamation, enemy, loyalty, loyal, camp, alien, disloyal, born, invasion, expedient, deprivation, temporarily, concentration, lived, national-defense, extraction, custody, promulgated

The petitioner, an American citizen of Japanese descent, was convicted in a federal district court for remaining in San Leandro, California, a 'Military Area', contrary to Civilian Exclusion Order No. 34 of the Commanding General [323 U.S. 214, 216] of the Western Command, U.S. Army, which directed that after May 9, 1942, all persons of Japanese ancestry should be excluded from that area. No question was raised as to petitioner's loyalty to the United States. The Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed,1 and the importance of the constitutional question involved caused us to grant certiorari.

It should be noted, to begin with, that all legal restrictions which curtail the civil rights of a single racial group are immediately suspect. That is not to say that all such restrictions are unconstitutional. It is to say that courts must subject them to the most rigid scrutiny. Pressing public necessity may sometimes pustify the existence of such restrictions; racial antagonism never can.

JUDGES: Stone, Roberts, Black, Reed, Frankfurter, Douglas, Murphy, Jackson, Rutledge

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