Farewell To Manzanar

by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston, James D. Houston

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What legal challenge to the evacuation order does Gordon Hirabayashi present in Farewell to Manzanar?

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In Farewell to Manzanar, Gordon Hirabayashi and his case are mentioned only one time.  This mention is on the first page of Chapter 16.  The author does not get into much detail about Hirabayashi and his challenge to the evacuation order.  All she says is that

He challenged the racial bias of these actions and the violations of his civil rights.

She says that the Supreme Court simply ruled on the curfew and not on the evacuation order.  It ruled that the curfew was legal because it was necessary to allow extreme measures in war time. 

Hirabayashi was a native-born American citizen who had never been to Japan.  He was in college at the University of Washington in Seattle when the evacuation order was issued.  He knowingly and intentionally violated the order because he believed it was unconstitutional.  He appealed his conviction to the Supreme Court.  Hirabayashi argued that the evacuation order and the curfew were illegal under the Fifth Amendment.  That amendment says that no one can

…be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law…

Since Hirabayashi and the others of Japanese descent had never been convicted of any wrongdoing, the argument went, they should not be deprived of their liberty to live where they wanted and to go out when they wanted.  The Supreme Court ruled against Hirabayashi, but did not actually rule on the exclusion order.  Instead, it preferred to avoid the tough issue and it ruled only on the curfew.

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