Manzanar Committee Denounces U.S. Supreme Court Ruling on President Trump’s Discriminatory Travel Ban

LOS ANGELES — On June 27, the Manzanar Committee repudiated the ruling by the Supreme Court of the United States in Trump v. Hawai’i, lifting the injunction on President Donald Trump’s travel ban.

“We are outraged by the decision of the Supreme Court,” said Manzanar Committee Co-Chair Bruce Embrey. “This travel ban is fundamentally unconstitutional, failing to consider the real intent of the ban-anti-Muslim prejudice-and instead, hid behind a so-called threat to national security. We’ve heard this all before. But we’d hoped the Court would see the ban for what it is and had learned from its past errors in Fred Korematsu’s case.”

“Each and every move to restrict immigration has, at its core, antipathy to the foreign born and communities of color and President Trump’s travel ban is no different,” added Embrey. “The vile rhetoric and hate mongering he used throughout his campaign that has continued during his Presidency is proof enough of his reasoning. His disregard for our nation’s laws and for due process, as evidenced by his calls to deport immigrants and asylum seekers without judges or courts, should alarm all democratically-minded people.”

“Keep in mind that the first travel ban was directed at Chinese immigrants with the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. Japanese immigration was restricted later with the Immigration Act of 1924. These bans were fueled and bolstered by extremists whipping up irrational fears, warnings about invasions, infestations and appeals to white supremacy. It’s no different today.”

While the Court was forced to finally overturn the Korematsu case, it is a hollow victory. Writing for the majority, and in response to the dissent by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote, in part, “…Korematsu has nothing to do with this case.”

Chief Justice Roberts added, overturning Korematsu, “…The dissent’s reference to Korematsu, however, affords this Court the opportunity to make express what is already obvious: Korematsu was gravely wrong the day it was decided, has been overruled in the court of history, and—to be clear—‘has no place in law under the Constitution,’ quoting the 1944 dissent by Justice Robert Jackson.”

“It’s been clear from the very beginning that then-Presidential candidate Donald Trump intended to enact a ban directed solely at Muslims,” Embrey noted. “It was discriminatory, intentionally, from the outset. It is no mere coincidence that the President announced his ‘total and complete shut down of Muslims entering the United States…’ on December 7. He openly and unabashedly used Executive Order 9066 as an historical precedent. Unfortunately, the majority of the Court, while paying lip service to the issue by overturning Korematsu, seems to think in exactly the same way.”

As Justice Sotomayor stated in her dissent, it is clear that the Court’s majority did not fully understand, or they chose to ignore, the legal and historic ramifications of the Korematsu case, regardless of the fact that they overturned it.

“We agree wholeheartedly with Justice Sotomayor when she wrote that the travel ban uses, ‘the same dangerous logic underlying Korematsu,’” said Embrey. “We also agree with her that the Court has failed in its responsibilities.”

“It is ironic and frankly, illogical, that the Court finally overturned the Korematsu case under these circumstances,” added Embrey. “This is an ironic reminder that those who fought Executive Order 9066 and the forced removal before the Supreme Court—Korematsu, Gordon Hirabayashi and Min Yasui—all lost. They lost for essentially the same reason the conservative majority on the Court upheld the travel ban as Justice Sotomayor noted, a ‘superficial claim of national security.’”

“She went on to say, ‘This formal repudiation of a shameful precedent is laudable and long overdue.’ However, it does not make the majority’s decision acceptable or right. By blindly accepting the Government’s misguided invitation to sanction a discriminatory policy motivated by animosity toward a specific group, all in the name of a superficial claim of national security, the Court has deployed the same dangerous logic underlying Korematsu and merely replaced one ‘gravely wrong’ decision with another.”

In light of the Court’s misguided decision, it is clear to us that our mission of educating people about the unjust incarceration of more than 120,000 Japanese/Japanese Americans in American concentration camps or other confinement sites during World War II is as critical now as it ever was.

“The experience of the Japanese American community is most instructive,” said Embrey. “Executive Order 9066 and the forced removal strained the seams of our democracy and violated our Constitutional, civil and human rights. Yet our nation came to grips with how policies based on race prejudice, economic greed and a failure of political leadership led our country astray.”

“We must all do our part to uphold our laws and our Constitution and look back at our own history to see what must be done,” added Embrey. “We must firmly denounce this decision, denounce the travel ban for what it is and we must use our experience to once again educate our nation about what is right and just.”

“Make no mistake about it. This ruling is a stain on the Roberts Court. The ruling in Trump v. Hawai’i will be this Court’s Korematsu case.”

The Manzanar Committee is dedicated to educating and raising public awareness about the incarceration and violation of civil rights of persons of Japanese ancestry during World War II and to the continuing struggle of all peoples when Constitutional rights are in danger. A non-profit organization that has sponsored the annual Manzanar Pilgrimage since 1969, along with other educational programs, the Manzanar Committee has also played a key role in the establishment and continued development of the Manzanar National Historic Site. For more information, check out our web site at, call us at (323) 662-5102, and e-mail us at You can also follow the Manzanar Commitee on Facebook, on Twitter at @manzanarcomm, on Instagram at @manzanarcommittee, on Pinterest and on YouTube.


LEAD PHOTO: Fred Korematsu (center front) with his attorneys following his 1983 victory in U.S. District Court in which his 1944 conviction was vacated, even though his conviction, which was originally upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court remains on the books. Photo courtesy of the Fred Korematsu family.

Creative Commons License The Manzanar Committee’s Official web site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. You may copy, distribute and/or transmit any story or audio content published on this site under the terms of this license, but only if proper attribution is indicated. The full name of the author and a link back to the original article on this site are required. Photographs, graphic images, and other content not specified are subject to additional restrictions. Additional information is available at: Manzanar Committee Official web site – Licensing and Copyright Information.

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