Thursday, January 24, 2008

Korematsu redux

-- by Dave

My weekly post at Firedoglake is up. It's a discussion of the shifting "conventional wisdom" of certain legal quarters of the right regarding the status of the infamous Japanese-internment court case, "Repackaging Korematsu":
I noticed a couple of years ago that Republicans eager to defend the Bush administration's grotesque power grab under the aegis of the "war on terror" -- especially its claims regarding "enemy combatants" and military tribunals -- have been trotting out the notion that the Supreme Court's 1942 Korematsu v. United States ruling was, upon further consideration, a good and proper ruling.

This was the ruling, you'll remember, in which the Supreme Court upheld the mass incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II. It is now widely viewed as one of the high court's three great historical mistakes, alongside Dred Scot and Plessy v. Ferguson.

Mind you, at the time, it was that "constitutional expert" Ann Coulter talking, which meant it was being floated out there on the pop-culture level. Now, it appears, a slightly modified version of this meme is making the rounds among supposedly respectable legal minds.

Coulter actually was correct on a certain level: as the Wikipedia entry notes, even after Fred Korematsu's conviction was vacated, "The essential holding of the 1944 Korematsu decision — namely, that a race-based exclusion program founded on considerations of military judgment did not violate the Constitution — remained untouched."

It's kinda wonky, tailored for the civil libertarians and history nuts out there. Hope you enjoy.

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