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Santa Cruz County History - Executive Order 9066 and the Residents of Santa Cruz County
Watsonville Register-Pajaronian. April 6, 1943. p. 6
MOVING JAPS UNCONSTITUTIONAL?
The Japanese evacuee issue, which seethed in the Pajaro valley several weeks ago, fast is becoming a national issue.
Sen. Albert B. Chandler, Kentucky democrat, insists that he will seek legislation permitting the release of 82,000 American-born Japanese from relocation camps. The military affairs committee, which is to receive Chandler's recommendation, is considering a bill by Sen. Mon C. Wallgren, Washington democrat, to transfer authority over the Japanese camps from the civilian relocation authority to the army.
To top it all off, the supreme court of the United States has been asked to rule on the constitutionality of restrictions imposed on American citizens of Japanese ancestry. In the trial of a case filed by attorneys for west coast Japanese, a United States circuit court judge declared that the exclusion of the Nipponese is in effect deportation and imprisonment without trial, and a violation of their constitutional rights.
It will be decidedly interesting to hear what the supreme court has to say about this. On first thought, it strikes the average American that it would be unconstitutional to move a citizen from his property and uproot him from his business and surroundings and confine him to certain premises against his wishes, without any trial or opportunity to be heard in the matter. That is a highhanded manner of treating any American citizen, in ordinary times.
But our constitution grants the president extraordinary powers in time of war. A great many things that ordinarily would be in violation of the constitution may be done lawfully by the chief executive as a matter of war necessity. Perhaps wartime provisions give the president power to move any citizens from restricted areas or to confine them, if that seems desirable. The supreme court will decide that.
But if the high court finds that the constitutional rights of Japanese-Americans have been violated in their removal from military restricted zones, then we had better change the constitution.
It is necessary when a democracy goes to war for all citizens to forego many of their cherished privileges. None of us, regardless of ancestry, is having his own way during this terrible struggle. For every Japanese who has been forced to give up his business and move into the interior, where he is safe and well fed, a hundred Americans of other ancestry have had to sacrifice their businesses and go into the service to defend their homes. They are also defending the liberties of the Japanese in replacement camps. They have more to lose than have the Japanese-Americans who are crying about their rights. Maybe it is unconstitutional to jerk a man away from his job and family, put a gun in his hand and send him to Guadalcanal. That also amounts to "deportation and imprisonment without trial."
We do not doubt the wisdom of removing all persons of Japanese extraction from the coastal regions. It is better for several reasons that the Japs be somewhere else for the duration.
Copyrighted by the Watsonville Register-Pajaronian. Reproduced by permission.