Comment: Re Japanese-American internment

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Re Japanese-American internment

The ACLU tries to defend its position on this issue by saying they were one of the few groups that came to the aid of Japanese-Americans. However, I do not think this effort had the teeth required to win their case. They lost both court challenges which cases went before the Supreme Court based on racial grounds. These challenges did not have the backing of the national ACLU which board of directors were split 2 to 1 with the majority against challenging FDR’s authority. Fred Korematsu, for example, was represented over the objection of the national ACLU in Korematsu v. United States (1944), the other well known case being Hirabayashi v. United States (1943). Overall, the ACLU could have been more assertive but the majority chose not to pursue that path. Historian Peter Irons faults both the ACLU and the Supreme Court itself for falling prey to the national dialogue over the civil liberties issue. The ACLU also dragged its feet in establishing its policy. Its national policy was not formulated until almost three months after evacuation had begun. Some posit that their headquarters in New York kept them remotely vs. actively involved on the West Coast, but I don’t think they had the gonads to challenge FDR.

That said, I see the value in some of the things they do. I just wish they were more consistent in defending our civil liberties as I think their liberal orientation tends to interfere with the basic premise of defending the Constitution which should be irrespective of right or left political persuasion.