Attorney James Purcell planned to challenge the legality of Endo’s firing but because of Executive Order 9066 and the mass incarceration of Japanese Americans along the West Coast, he decided instead to challenge their incarceration. Purcell selected Endo as an “ideal” plaintiff who could symbolize the loyalty of Japanese Americans.
Seeking her release, Purcell filed a habeas corpus petition in July 1942 approximately five months after the signing of Executive Order 9066.
The petition was denied, and several other petitions were filed as well. Finally, in December 1944, the Supreme Court decision in Ex parte Endo ruled that the U.S. government could not continue to detain a citizen who was “concededly loyal” to the United States in concentration camps.
This ruling led to Japanese Americans being allowed to return to the West Coast and the eventual closing of the camps.
Mitsuye Endo is less well known than three others who protested the constitutionality of Executive Order 9066—Gordon Hirabayashi, Min Yasui, and Fred Korematsu, all of whom received the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Prepare a 4–5-minute presentation that includes a summary of Mitsuye Endo’s accomplishments, specific types of civic engagement mentioned in the handout, and the impact of Ex parte Endo on democracy in the United States.
Also, share your thoughts on whether you think Mitsuye Endo and/or two other civically engaged Americans of your choosing should be included in all U.S. high school history textbooks.
due process—fair treatment through the normal judicial system, especially as a citizen’s entitlement
habeas corpus—a writ requiring a person under arrest to be brought before a judge or into court, especially to secure the person’s release unless lawful grounds are shown for their detention
ex parte—refers to improper contact with a party or a judge. Ethical rules forbid (with some exceptions) a lawyer from contacting the judge or the opposing party without the other party’s lawyer also being present. A breach of these rules is referred to as improper ex parte contact.
Presidential Medal of Freedom—the U.S.’s highest civilian honor, presented to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors
Ex parte Mitsuye Endo (1944),” Densho Encyclopedia, http://encyclopedia.densho.org/Ex_parte_Mitsuye_Endo_(1944)/ [31 June 2020].
William Yoshino, “Japanese American Internment Case Cited Today in Government Actions,” Sacramento Bee, 4 September 2016, https://www.sacbee.com/opinion/california-forum/article99386647.html [31 June 2020].
“Endo, Mitsuye”, MSS C 125 The KUED Topaz (Utah) Residents Photograph Collection, 1987, https://collections.lib.utah.edu/ark:/87278/s6gt5n4p.