Monday, July 11, 2011

Inspirational Man

Today was a relief. It felt really good to turn in my paper because not only is it a weight lifted, but I got to learn so much about Supreme Court cases, and how to use the library. After learning how to print a document, I printed and printed my paper before heading to our afternoon session where we watched two documentaries, on one Justice Black and one on Mr. Korematsu and his journey through the legal system.

The first documentary was essentially the story of Justice Black's time as a Supreme Court justice. Born and raised in Alabama, Black never completed school. He taught himself everything by attending trials at the local courthouse, the one part of his hometown that was exciting. He then went on to attending University of Alabama's law school and became a very successful lawyer. It was claimed that he did 2,000 cases and could only recall losing 20. He then joined the KKK in order to gain support for his Senate campaign, which he was elected to the Senate. From the Senate F.D.R. nominated Black to become a justice and he was soon affirmed by the Senate. As a justice, Black is best known for being a champion of individual rights. Justice Black and Douglas voted together for each individual rights case, and played a major role in the end of segregation. While Black will go down as as great justice, there is one case where not only did he mess up, but the Supreme Court as a whole made a mistake. That case is Korematsu v. United States.

Following the attack by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor, Roosevelt issued Presidential Executive Order 9066, which called for all Japanese-Americans to be rounded up to go to internment camps. When he refused to go, he was arrested and charged for disobeying and order, and then sent to a camp where all Japanese Americans slept in horse stables. He brought a lawsuit arguing that the President and Congress went beyond their power by implementing exclusion and restricting the rights of Japanese Americans. Ultimately the Supreme Court ruled against Korematsu despite the fact that the defense argued that because he was the same race as the enemy, the camps where justified. I believe the Court was completely wrong. The order was an example of discrimination based on race which is prohibited in the Constitution. While he may have lost, what makes Korematsu an amazing man to me is that he always knew he should have won and 40 years after the Supreme Court's ruling, a lawyer presented him evidence that the government suppressed evidence and lied to the Supreme Court. Korematsu petitioned for a writ of coram nobis and was granted one. At the hearing, the judge vacated his former conviction and after 40 long years, Korematsu was finally awarded what he wanted, justice.

1 comment:

  1. This is a case I also find vey interesting. The decision was so strong but so was the dissent by Justice Murphy. In addition, he was from right here in the Bay area.

    Korematsu made those statments after his conviction was formally vacated. “I would like to see the government admit that they were wrong and do something about it so this will never happen again to any American citizen of any race, creed, or color.” He also said “If anyone should do any pardoning, I should be the one pardoning the government for what they did to the Japanese-American people.