December 18, 1944

About two months after Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, which authorized the designation of domestic “military areas” from which anyone deemed a threat could be excluded.

By late 1942, more than 110,000 Japanese-Americans had been ordered from their West Coast homes and placed in detention camps like Manzanar in California. Bay Area welder Fred Korematsu, who twice tried to enlist, defied the order. He briefly avoided cus­tody but was arrested, convicted and sent to a Utah camp.

Korematsu asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review his case. In a 6-3 decision, issued the day after plans were announced to end the internment, the court upheld the conviction, arguing that security concerns justified the race-based incarceration. It was later revealed that military officials had exaggerated the domestic threat. Korematsu’s conviction was vacated in 1984, but the ruling in Korematsu v. U.S. still stands.

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