Obit of the Day: The Man Who Fought Internment
Gordon Hirabayashi was a senior at the University of Washington when President Franklin Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066 establishing a curfew and relocating all Japanese and Japanese-American residents to internment camps. Hirabayashi refused to board the bus that was to take him away.
He fought the curfew and relocation based on his Constitutional right to due process as well as equal protection under the law. He ended up before the Supreme Court and in a decision as tragic as Dred Scott and Plessy v. Ferguson the Court upheld FDR’s policy. Chief Justice Harlan Stone wrote “in time of war residents having ethnic affiliations with an invading enemy may be a greater source of danger than those of a different ancestry.” They did not address the forced internment of U.S. citizens until Korematsu v. United States (1944) where again the decision was pro-government.
Mr. Hirabayashi, who died at the age of 93, had his convictions for violating the executive order overturned in 1987 by the U.S District Court in Seattle and the Federal Appeals Court. He lived much of his adult life in Alberta, Canada.
(Image of Mr. Hirabayashi as a student at the University of Washington is property of UW.)