Cases of Hirobayashi v. U.S and Korematsu v. U.STwo important legal cases were brought against the United States concerning the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. These landmark...

Cases of Hirobayashi v. U.S and Korematsu v. U.S

Two important legal cases were brought against the United States concerning the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. These landmark cases were Hirobayashi v. United States (1943), and Korematsu v. United States (1944). In both, the defendants argued that their Fifth Amendment rights were violated by the U.S. government because of their ancestry.

What Fifth Amendment issues did Hirabayashi and Korematsu argue were being violated?
How did the Supreme Court rule on the cases?
Do you agree with the rulings? Why or why not?

Expert Answers
vangoghfan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The fifth amendment was used by the plaintiffs to argue that no person should be deprived of liberty without due process of law.  Apparently the government suppressed evidence that would have supported the position of the plaintiffs.  If this is true (as it seems to be), then certainly the decision was flawed simply on that ground alone.  Here are some sources that may be of help:


accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I have to agree with the other posters. The decision of the Supreme Court to support American policy in this decision indicates nothing more than political expediency. America, like so many other countries, faced a situation where it was waging war against another nation whilst there was a significant minority of people originating from that nation in its own country. It felt it had to do something, and manipulated the law in order to secure itself from what it thought was a threat. But this was no different to the internment of Germans in European countries.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Of course I don't agree with the Supreme Court (legally speaking) with regard to these cases.  However, it is hard to imagine them deciding the cases differently in the context of the times.

The intenrnment of the Japanese citizens and the Americans of Japanese descent took place with no "due process of law."  The internees were not tried and found guilty of any crime.  They were simply moved because the government said they might help the enemy.  The simple issuing of an executive order is not due process of law.

rrteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the 1980s, Korematsu's conviction for evading internment was overturned by a US District Court on precisely the grounds that post #3 describes. Hirabayashi's conviction, which established the precedent for the majority decision in Korematsu, was also overturned at about the same time. It's significant that neither Supreme Court case has been overturned per se, however. Fred Korematsu himself filed an amicus curiae brief in a case involving the detention of terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay.

Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Hirabayashi v. United States, the Fifth Amendment was used to argue that the Congress of the U.S. had neither right nor authority to impose "the curfew" being contested because the Constitutional Fifth Amendment prohibits discriminating against groups of American citizens based upon "ancestry." In other words, citizens having Japanese ancestry cannot be subjected to regulations, laws, restrictions, etc, that do equally apply to citizens other ancestry.

enotechris eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As #2 indicates, Roosevelt flagrantly violated the Constitution.  The Executive Branch should never have had the power to issue "Executive Orders" which have the force of law.  Not only did the interment violate Rights, The issuing of such orders violates the separation of powers enshrined in the Constitution.

Political expediency is no excuse for ignoring or suppressing law.  The laws exist to carry us through just such difficult times.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is a perfect example of fear being used to manipulate common sense.  The people sent to internment camps did not commit any crimes.  Rounding them up did not protect anyone.  It was wrong, and it eroded instead of protected our constitution and way of life.

Woody Durant | Student

What was the main reason for this ruling