Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order #9066 seventy-four years ago today, February 19, 1942, authorizing the removal of all people from military areas "as deemed necessary."
This order stated...
"Whereas the successful prosecution of the war requires every possible protection against espionage and...sabotage to national defense...I hereby authorize and direct the Secretary of War to designate...military areas...from which any or all persons may be excluded."
FDR was advised the military areas that should be included comprised all of the west coast of the United States. It is estimated that 120,000 Americans of Japanese descent were moved to internment camps. 70,000 of these were American citizens.
In the case of Korematsu vs. United States, the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that FDR's executive order to relocate Americans of Japanese descent was constitutional. The six majority votes were from FDR-appointed justices. Hugo Black*, who wrote the majority opinion, argued that the necessity of protecting the nation against espionage outweighed the individual rights of Fred Korematsu and those of all Americans of Japanese descent.
Those relocated by the order would not be allowed to return to their homes until December 17, 1944.
President Ronald Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act in 1988 which gave each survivor of the internment camps $20,000 tax free along with the government's apology.
*Hugo Lafayette Black (1886-1971) was born in Ashland, AL & graduated from the University of Alabama School of Law in 1906. HLB served in WWI and practiced law in Birmingham. He served in the U.S. Sentate 1927-1937 and on the U.S. Supreme Court for 34 years. Justice Black is said to have been an influence on the careers of Earl Warren, William Rehnquist & Antonin Scalia.
Executive Order 9066