Document Type

Honors Project

First Advisor

Dr. David McQuilkin

Degree Award Date

Spring 1995


Analysis, Japanese Internment Cases, Supreme Court


History | Legal | United States History


The cases surrounding Japanese internment are often ignored by constitutional scholars; however, they serve to define not only a brief period in American history, but also to what extent the constitution protects our civil rights. Hirabayashi v. United States, Korematsu v. United States, and Ex Parte Endo are harsh examples of how our personal freedoms may be limited during episodes of war. Granted, that war is one of the gravest and most dangerous moments in a country's history, the rights extended to citizens during that time are essential to defining how a person may expect his or her government to shelter both their physical beings, but also their social.

The proceeding study is designed to examine the decisions made by the Supreme Court concerning Japanese internment. In doing so, I shall present the court opinions and then evidence which will demonstrate that what occurred during World War II was one of the most dangerous abridgements to personal liberties the United States has experienced. Materials utilized were drawn mainly from the actual court cases and decisions, as well as declassified documents provided by the George C. Marshall Research Library in Lexington, Virginia. Few secondary resources were cited to prevent the opinions of previous scholars from interfering with the analysis I wished to employ. The study is limited strictly to Supreme Court cases and is no way an attempt to examine the broader social issues surfacing from the internment experience.