later through the Freedom of Information Act — the military report on which DeWitt relied was riddled with “lies” and “intentional falsehoods.”
On Feb. 19, 1942, President Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066 authorizing the internment. Soon afterward, the ACLU denounced it — sending letters of protest to the president and the secretary of war. Baldwin instructed the ACLU’s California offices “to confer with representatives of Japanese-American organizations [and] to resort to the courts if necessary where ‘injustices appear to be done.’ ” Many hoped that wouldn’t be necessary.
Appealing for “sanity on the West Coast,” the ACLU protested that the presidential order was “far too sweeping to meet any proved need.” The plan did not even provide hearings for those to be evacuated. If extreme measures were necessary, the organization urged President Roosevelt to invoke martial law “applying equally to all citizens instead.”
Arthur Garfield Hays, general counsel for the ACLU, cited the “injustice and hardship to American citizens of Japanese ancestry who are loyally serving by the thousands in our armed
forces but whose citizen relatives are not permitted to occupy their homes.”
register for the evacuation.
The cases went all the way to the
U.S. Supreme Court. On June 21, 1943, in a decision written by Associate Justice Harlan Fiske Stone, the Court upheld the convic- tion of Korematsu. “We cannot close our eyes to the fact that in a time of war residents having ethnic affiliations with an invading enemy may be a greater source of danger than those of a different ancestry,” it said. In a larger question on the limits of war power, the High Court voted 6 to 3 on Dec. 18, 1944, to accept the government’s argument that mass evacuation was necessary because “it was impossible to bring about an immediate segregation of the loyal and disloyal.” But, in the panic sweeping the country, the administration was unmoved. And, after much internal controversy, the ACLU National Board adopted a resolution on June 22,1942, outlining four grounds for legal challenges to the internments: the absence of clear military necessity, racial dis- crimination, the lack of individual hearings, and detention. REGISTRATION: Internees fill out registation forms at the Santa Anita reception center, 1942. In the pressure of wartime, people tended to rally around the president, and even the ACLU board was divided on internment. But the ACLU’s West Coast affiliates and staff in northern and southern California had already committed themselves to representing indi- viduals who stood in defiance of the evacuation and internment. The ACLU of Northern California directly represented Fred Korematsu, a 23-year-old drafts- man who defied the evacuation order; and the ACLU of Washington state came to the defense of Gordon Hirabayashi, a Quaker college student who refused to Forty years later, Korematsu’s conviction was overturned by a federal judge in San Francisco on a petition filed by the sons and daughters of Japanese-American internees. But it took 45 years for the government to acknowledge its wrongful actions and authorize $20,000 in reparations to each surviving victim.