February 28, 2023

Tammy Duckworth Moves (Again) to Prevent a Repeat of Racist World War II-Era Imprisonment

New legislation would address the fact that the Supreme Court's Korematsu decision is still on the books.



en. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, a combat veteran, is now working to defuse an IED that's been sitting in constitutional law since the beginning of World War II. From the senator's office:

U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) today re-introduced the Korematsu-Takai Civil Liberties Protection Act, a bill that would establish a clear legal prohibition against un-American policies that seek to imprison individuals solely on the basis of race, religion, nationality, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, ethnicity or disability. With the continued rising number of anti-Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) hate crimes and violence, passing this bill would be a first step toward safeguarding vital freedoms that are supposed to protect all Americans against arbitrary imprisonment or detention with no due process, as happened to Japanese Americans during World War II.

Every constitutional lawyer I've ever met has pointed out that Korematsu was never overturned and that it sits there, waiting for someone to pick it up again—like the one ring from Tolkien, ready to feed on the ambition and lust for power of any politician or prosecutor prone to them. As journalist Lynda Lin Grigsby points out on CNN.com:

[...]the same legal framework used to justify the WWII incarceration of Japanese Americans still exists today, so it can happen again to any group of people. The Non-Detention Act of 1971 prohibits the military detention of US citizens, except by an act of Congress. Presumably, this was a step forward from 1942 when the decision was made solely by the president, but the power of our federal government to order the military to detain American citizens en masse remains authorized by an existing law.

It's long past time to dislodge this explosive from the law, and Duckworth's effort is more than worthy.

Of course, it's 2023, and half the political system has lost its mind, so Duckworth's proposal is bound to run into one of these people. From Politico:

The House mourned the loss of tens of thousands of lives from the devastating earthquakes in Turkey and Syria in a resolution that passed on Monday evening. The vote was a resounding 414-2. Reps. Marjorie Taylore Greene (R-Ga.) [sic] and Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) were the lone no votes.

I don't even want to know why. These really are the mole people.

By:  Charles P. Pierce