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Fred Korematsu and Japanese American Internment


Fred Korematsu was born in California in 1919 to Japanese immigrants. Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, the U.S. government feared that the large Japanese American population on the West Coast posed a national security concern. It attempted to address the issue through curfews and relocating Japanese Americans from certain areas. Korematsu lived in one of these designated areas but refused to leave. His arrest and subsequent trial ultimately reached the Supreme Court.



Have students read the handouts then answer the following questions.

  1. What does Executive Order 9066 authorize the Secretary of War and military commanders to do?
  2. What reasons does the Order cite to explain its enactment?
  3. What were Japanese Americans instructed to do?
  4. What Constitutional issues are raised in this case?
  5. In your own words, summarize Justice Black’s majority opinion.
  6. In your own words, summarize Justice Murphy’s majority opinion.
  7. Which justice do you agree with? Why? Explain your answer using constitutional principles.

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