1944 December 18

Supreme Court Orders Japanese-Americans Released


In the case of Ex parte Endo, decided on this day, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the government could not detain Japanese-Americans it conceded were loyal to the U.S. The decision in effect freed all the evacuees being held in the government’s Relocation Centers (some had already been released, and some men had served in the U. S. military).

The government evidently had advance word of the decision, because the day before, December 17, 1944,  it announced the end of the evacuation and internment program. Many observers believe that the government was tipped off by Justice Felix Frankfurter, who was close to President Roosevelt and on other occasions had improper conversations with him.

For the Court, Justice William O. Douglas wrote: “Loyalty is a matter of the heart and mind not of race, creed, or color.”

Learn more about the Japanese American internment tragedy: Greg Robinson, By Order of the President: FDR and the Internment of Japanese Americans (2001)

Visit the Japanese American Museum: http://www.janm.org/

View Dorothea Lange’s Internment Camp Photographshttp://www.sfmuseum.org/hist/lange.html

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