U.S. Supreme Court
TOYOSABURO KOREMATSU v. UNITED STATES, 323 U.S. 214 (1944)
323 U.S. 214
Argued Oct. 11, 12, 1944.
Decided Dec. 18, 1944.
Rehearing Denied Feb. 12, 1945
324 U.S. 885
, 65 S.Ct. 674.
[323 U.S. 214, 215]
Mr. Wayne M. Collins, of San Francisco, Cal.,
and Mr. Charles A. Horsky, of Washington, D.C., for petitioner.
Mr. Charles Fahy, Sol. Gen., of Washington, D.C., for respondent.
Mr. Justice BLACK delivered the opinion of the Court.
The petitioner, an American citizen of Japanese descent, was convicted in a federal district court
for remaining in San Leandro, California, a 'Military Area', contrary to Civilian Exclusion Order
No. 34 of the Commanding General
[323 U.S. 214, 216]
of the Western Command, U.S. Army,
which directed that after May 9, 1942, all persons of Japanese ancestry should be excluded from
that area. No question was raised as to petitioner's loyalty to the United States. The Circuit Court
of Appeals affirmed,
and the importance of the constitutional question involved caused us to
It should be noted, to begin with, that all legal restrictions which curtail the civil rights of a
single racial group are immediately suspect. That is not to say that all such restrictions are
unconstitutional. It is to say that courts must subject them to the most rigid scrutiny. Pressing
public necessity may sometimes justify the existence of such restrictions; racial antagonism
In the instant case prosecution of the petitioner was begun by information charging violation of
an Act of Congress, of March 21, 1942, 56 Stat. 173, 18 U.S.C.A. 97a, which provides that
'... whoever shall enter, remain in, leave, or commit any act in any military area or
military zone prescribed, under the authority of an Executive order of the President, by
the Secretary of War, or by any military commander designated by the Secretary of War,
contrary to the restrictions applicable to any such area or zone or contrary to the order of
the Secretary of War or any such military commander, shall, if it appears that he knew or
should have known of the existence and extent of the restrictions or order and that his act