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Executive Order 9066 (1942)

This order authorized the forced imprisonment of 120,000 Japanese American citizens in internment camps during World War II without trials or hearings. The order stated that the detentions were necessary because “the successful prosecution of the war requires every possible protection against espionage and against sabotage to national-defense material, national-defense premises and national defense utilities.” President Franklin Roosevelt signed this order in his capacity as Commander in Chief of the military.

Many argued that citizens who were taken to the camps lost their liberty and property without due process as required by the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. The Supreme Court, however, upheld the forced incarcerations as constitutional wartime measures in Korematsu v. United States (1944). In 1988, President Ronald Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act, under which sixty thousand survivors of the camps were each paid $20,000 to compensate them for their lost liberty and property.

The order challenged American constitutional principles including checks and balancesequalityindividual rights, and majority rule versus minority rights.