The Intersection between Internment and Judgeship

Transcripts available in the following languages:

Over time, I did come to the conclusion that I definitely believe that it was wrong- the internment of the Japanese. I think that now, at least among the legal scholars, that it’s a universal opinion that it’s wrong, and that the Korematsu decision is probably one of the worst decisions the Supreme Court ever made.

So I share that belief. It was a very shameful and wrongful thing for the country to do. So I think that conviction does inform my attitude as a judge. In other words, I think I’m probably much less inclined than a lot of other judges to always trust what the government does. Sometimes it’s kind of a good thing, sometimes it’s not, but there are some people who almost believe that the government can’t do anything wrong, and of course, we know that that’s not true. So I bring that attitude to my job as a judge.

Turning it around the other way, how has my legal career affected my views on the internment? I think it’s made my views more firm that it was an injustice, and I think the same kind of attitude and the same kind of thinking pervades a lot of government thinking, and it has over the years in similar situations. So I don’t think it’s something that can be relegated to the past. I think that the same principles, same notions are at play today in a lot of different contexts. I think one of the things we are not doing is paying as much attention to our past history as we should- to inform the decisions we as a country make today. I think we can improve upon that quite a bit.

Date: July 2, 2014
Location: California, US
Interviewer: Sakura Kato
Contributed by: Watase Media Arts Center, Japanese American National Museum; Japanese American Bar Association

incarceration internment judge korematsu law supreme court WWII

Get updates

Sign up for email updates

Journal feed
Events feed
Comments feed

Support this project

Discover Nikkei

Discover Nikkei is a place to connect with others and share the Nikkei experience. To continue to sustain and grow this project, we need your help!

Ways to help >>

A project of the Japanese American National Museum

Major support by The Nippon Foundation