There has been a great deal of attention during the recently-concluded election cycle about the supposed racism of President-elect Donald Trump. The talk of a southern border wall and making Mexico pay for it, rapists and murderers trickling in from Mexico, and a Muslim ban have been huge contributing stories this cycle. It was for these reasons that many not only expected the Republican President-elect to fail, but to fail miserably.
Donald Trump is now the President-elect, however.
The transition team is in full swing and, as the Trump Administration begins to take shape, the direction of policy will begin coming together. This could mean a border wall, deportations of illegal immigrants, and a Muslim ban.
But it could also mean far worse than this comes to light.
There is now talk of a Muslim registry to track those who enter the country from certain foreign lands. This has become a cause for alarm among a number of different groups for various reasons. This could lead to invasions of privacy, increased surveillance state, more Orwellian legislation, and institutionalized racism.
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach first made waves by suggesting such a database was being considered by the forming Trump Administration. The alarm began to sound louder as Chris Higbie, a former Navy SEAL and Trump supporter, suggested that Japanese Internment Camps create the legal precedent the President-elect needs here.
The problem is Higbie is absolutely correct.
Korematsu v. United States was a 1944 Supreme Court case involving the arrest of Japanese American Fred Korematsu. Korematsu was born to Japanese parents in Oakland, California. Being a born and raised American, he refused to comply with the relocation order on grounds that it violated the Fifth Amendment.
The Supreme Court would ultimately rule against Korematsu in a shocking case. The bench stacked by then-President Franklin Delano Roosevelt predictably sided with the President. Roosevelt appointee Justice Hugo Black wrote the decision, which contradicted itself by stating the exclusion order wasn’t racist before proceeding to explain why the decision was based on his race.
A number of precedents were set forth by the internment of the Japanese Americans and the Supreme Court supporting it.
First, the Supreme Court legalized discrimination based on race to an extreme. Wartime paranoia is a legally justifiable reason to disregard the rights of American citizens.
Second, the Supreme Court legalized forced relocation and other extreme measures as a means to handle racist wartime paranoia.
Fred Korematsu was an American citizen. He should have been guaranteed his rights under the Constitution, but they were overridden and the court sided with the abuse of power by the Roosevelt Administration.
Note that legality and morality are separate topics. Just because it is legal does not make it right. But it’s important to understand that the general point advanced by former Navy SEAL Chris Higbie is correct. The legal precedents for these things are real.
Americans need to understand the real threat that wartime poses to our country. It doesn’t only wear down our military, but it breaks down our liberty at home. It is for this reason that the Bill of Rights exists. Whether you’re a Japanese American or a Muslim American, constitutional protections exist to safeguard us from tyrannical paranoia.
Korematsu v. United States needs to be reversed and overturned.