As illustrated in the Japanese American incarceration, civil liberties often suffer in times of crisis. Even the mechanisms meant to prevent civil liberty violations—the Constitution, separation of powers, due process, etc.—are not failsafe.
What civil liberties debates are in the news now? Whose civil liberties are being challenged, and why? How, if at all, are these debates related to security concerns?
What do you think have been the legacies of the incarceration within the Japanese American community?
What do you think have been the legacies of the incarceration for U.S. society broadly?
In 1980, Congress formed the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians (CWRIC) to extensively investigate and understand the Japanese American incarceration.
The bipartisan commission conducted hearings around the country, collected testimonies from more than 750 witnesses, and reviewed more than 10,000 documents.³ It published its findings in 1983 in a 467-page report called Personal Justice Denied.
It concluded that a “grave personal injustice was done…without individual review or any probative evidence.”
It also concluded that Executive Order 9066 was “not justified by military necessity, and the decisions which followed from it…were not founded upon military conditions.” Rather, the causes were racial prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership.⁴
Matt Ford, “The Return of Korematsu,” Atlantic, 19 November 2015, https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/11/the-shadow-of-korematsu/416634/ [31 July 2020].
“Scalia: Internment Could Happen Again,” Associated Press, 4 February 2014, https://www.politico.com/story/2014/02/antonin-scalia-internment-ruling-103079 [31 July 2020].
“About the Incarceration,” Densho Encyclopedia, http://encyclopedia.densho.org/history/ [31 July 2020].
“Personal Justice Denied (book),” Densho Encyclopedia, [31 July 2020].