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

Full Text Newspaper ArticleWatsonville Register-Pajaronian. March 30, 1943. p. 1


Washington (UP) - The Supreme Court Tuesday was asked by a lower tribunal to rule on constitutionality of restrictions imposed by army officials on United States citizens of Japanese ancestry on the west coast.

The high court received papers from the ninth circuit court of appeals asking it to decide the issues involved in two cases challenging legality of orders issued by Lt.-Gen. John L. DeWitt, west coast military commandant, on May 16, 1942, requiring all persons of Japanese ancestry to report to civil control stations. DeWitt also imposed a curfew on those persons and banned them from certain military areas.

His orders were challenged by Gordon Kiyoshi-Hirabayashi of Seattle and Minoru Yasui of Portland, Ore. Both were convicted of violating the curfew and failing to report to the proper civil authorities.

Emphasizing they were American citizens, they contended that their constitutional rights had been violated by DeWitt's orders. They contended that neither congress or the president had the power to command them, as American citizens, when they were not charged with any specific crime, to report to civilian control stations, simply because of their Japanese ancestry. They also asserted that the authority exercised by the military forces in the area is an unconstitutional delegation of power to define criminal conduct.

The circuit court, after hearing argument, decided to ask the Supreme Court to rule on the question.

Judge William Denman, dissenting from that decision, held that "under the threat of penitentiary sentences to 70,000 American citizens who have relied on the right that they believe the constitution gives them, we are driving from their homes to internment camps, not men alone, as was the deportation of the Duth by the Germans, but also their wives and children, without giving the latter the chance to remain in their homes. We are destroying their businesses, and in effect as though such citizens were enemy aliens."

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