Korematsu v. United States Homework
What factual claims about the military necessity of Japanese American evacuation were in dispute in this
case? Did any of the justices question the military’s claims? Explain.
2. Explain why Justice Black applied the precedent set in the Hirabayashi case to the ruling in the Korematsu
case in his majority opinion? In his dissent, explain why Justice Jackson rejected the use of Hirabayashi as
a precedent in this case?
3. Why did Justice Black argue that an evacuation order was not the same as a detention order? Why did
Justice Roberts take a different view?
4. The majority opinion upheld “the exclusion order as of the time it was made.” On what grounds did Justice
Murphy feel that that order should not establish legal precedent? Explain.
5. Based on the majority opinion, can you speculate on why six justices of the U.S. Supreme Court announced
the broad principle of “strict scrutiny” in all racial discrimination cases but then avoided the question of
whether indefinite detention passed the “strict scrutiny” test in this case? Explain.
6. Fred Korematsu’s conviction was overturned in 1984 (see “The Rest of the Story”), but the Supreme Court
ruling in this case still stands. If you were Fred Korematsu, what argument would you make to have your
conviction overturned? Why would you wait forty years?
7. Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and the passage of the USA PATRIOT Act, legal scholars
have debated whether the Supreme Court’s opinion in Korematsu v. United States might be used as a
precedent for the categorical incarceration of Arab Americans as a military necessity in the war on
terrorism. Write an argument for or against the use of Korematsu as a precedent justifying the evacuation or
detention of Arab Americans in the name of national security.