Empowerment

In the early 1980s, concurrent with the Commission process, the Supreme Court cases which upheld the internment and related actions were successfully challenged: Hirabayashi v. United States (1943), Yasui v. United States (1943) and Korematsu v. United States (1944).A legal team led by Sansei (third-generation Japanese American) attorneys filed the “Coram Nobis” cases, based on newly discovered government records which documented the Justice Department’s deliberate suppression of evidence in the original cases.The petitions for a “writ of error coram nobis” asserted that there were several fundamental errors made by officials of the War Department at the time of the original trial. These included: altered and destroyed evidence; and suppression of evidence by both the War Department and the Justice Department regarding the loyalty of Japanese Americans.

The petitions found that the Supreme Court decisions of the 1940s had been based on the misrepresentation of available facts and on the deliberate suppression of evidence.

The “coram nobis” victories provided official evidence of how groundless the Government’s justification of “military necessity” had been.

Incorporated into the findings of the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians (CWRIC) report, these cases proved in court what Japanese Americans had known and felt in their hearts for decades.

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