Santa Cruz County History - Executive Order 9066 and the Residents of Santa Cruz County


Full Text Newspaper ArticleWatsonville Register-Pajaronian. June 22, 1943. p. 6

SUPREME COURT BACKS DEWITT
[Editorial]

The Supreme Court decision Monday upholding the conviction of two West Coast Japanese on charges of violating the military curfew imposed by Lt.-Gen. John L. DeWitt, chief of the Western Defense Command should curb much of the argument about the "constitutionality" of removing Japs from coastal areas during wartime.

What's more, the high court justices were unanimous in their decision.

The Supreme Court's action came on the same day that Gov. Earl Warren of California told governors of the nation assembled at Columbus, Ohio, of the dangers of sabotage if Japanese are freed from relocation centers without Army or FBI supervision.

The decision and Mr. Warren's message should make some impression on residents of the midwest and east who think that the West Coast is unduly excited about the Japanese situation. Millions of people in those sections apparently refuse to believe that "Japanese-Americans" could be disloyal to the United States.

"The war power of the national government is the power to wage war successfully. It extends to every matter and activity so related to war as substantially to affect its conduct and progress," said the opinion of Chief Justice Stone. Continuing, he said:

"The power is not restricted to the winning of victories in the field and the repulse of enemy forces. It embraces every phase of the national defense, including the protection of war materials and the members of the armed forces from injury and from the dangers which attend the rise, prosecution and progress of war...

"The actions taken must be appraised in the light of the conditions with which the President and Congress were confronted in the early months of 1942, many of which since disclosed, were then peculiarly within the knowledge of the military authorities. On Dec. 7, 1941, the Japanese air forces had attacked the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor without warning, at the very hour when Japanese diplomatic representatives were conducting negotiations with our State Department ostensibly for the peaceful settlement of differences between the two countries."

However, he said his vote to sustain the two convictions did not intimate "that the military authorities in time of war are subject to no restraints whatsoever, or that they are free to impose any restrictions they may choose on the rights and liberties of individual citizens or groups of citizens in those places which may be designed as 'military areas'."

"While this court sits, it has the inescapable duty of seeing that the mandates of the Constitution are obeyed, that duty exists in time of war as well as in time of peace, and in its performance we must not forget that few indeed have been the invasions upon essential liberties which have not been accompanied by pleas of urgent necessity advanced in good faith by responsible men."

His reasoning, we are sure, is applauded by the great majority of West Coast residents.

Copyrighted by the Watsonville Register-Pajaronian. Reproduced by permission.