On January 30 of each year, the state of California celebrates its Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution. This day commemorates the legacy of Fred T. Korematsu, the Japanese-American activist who famously defied domestic military detention during World War II.
In 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, authorizing US armed forces to designate particular areas as ‘military zones’ and evacuate resident civilians. Enforcement of this order disproportionately displaced persons of Japanese ancestry into internment camps. Although eventually incarcerated himself, Korematsu spent his days after World War II as an activist for equal treatment and accountability under the law.
Beyond championing redress for the mass internment of Japanese-Americans, Korematsu signified a critical voice against constitutionally subversive post-9/11 national security policies. He expressed his perspective on military detention in amicus briefs to multiple Guantanamo cases, writing in one instance that:
…even in times of crisis; we must guard against prejudice and keep uppermost our commitment to law and justice.
As America endures our contemporary constitutional crisis, please join BORDC in protecting our rights under the Constitution by honoring the legacy of Fred Korematsu. BORDC has devised a model resolution through which local and state governments can reject the domestic military detention provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), and require local officials to resist federal attempts to detain residents without trial.
Since President Obama signed into law provisions that could allow the US military to indefinitely detain any American arbitrarily, the right to due process has hung by a thread. Under the vague and often misguided definitions of the national security establishment, the NDAA could be used to detain activists, journalists, academics, or anyone else.
By restoring the constitutional rights abrogated by the NDAA, communities and local governments can create the momentum necessary to effectively end indefinite detention. We cannot allow our nation to repeat our historical travesties.
BORDC works with local activists across the country to help them connect with other groups and build diverse coalitions to support constitutional fidelity. Join the campaign today to check the federal government and preserve the liberties that generations struggled to achieve