One moment...

Street Law, Inc. and The Supreme Court Historical Society present

Landmark Cases of the U.S. Supreme Court

Street Law / Landmark Cases / Cases / Korematsu v. United States

Korematsu v. United States (1944)

Japanese Internment, Equal Protection

"As long as my record stands in federal court, any American citizen can be held in prison or concentration camps without trial or hearing. I would like to see the government admit they were wrong and do something about it, so this will never happen again to any American citizen of any race, creed, or color." —Fred Korematsu (1983), on his decision to again challenge his conviction 40 years later 

After Pearl Harbor was bombed in December 1941, the military feared a Japanese attack on the U.S. mainland and the American government was worried that Americans of Japanese descent might aid the enemy.  In 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed an executive order forcing many West Coast Japanese and Japanese Americans into internment camps.  Fred Korematsu, a Japanese American, relocated and claimed to be Mexican-American to avoid being interned, but was later arrested and convicted of violating an executive order. Korematsu challenged his conviction in the courts saying that Congress, the President, and the military authorities did not have the power to issue the relocation orders and that he was being discriminated against based on his race. The government argued that the evacuation was necessary to protect the country and the federal appeals court agreed. Korematsu appealed this decision and the case came before the U.S. Supreme Court. The Court agreed with government and stated that the need to protect the country was a greater priority than the individual rights of the Japanese and Japanese Americans.

Learn more

About the materials

These materials were developed for students of various skill levels, and teachers should choose the level that works best for their students.  Answers to the background questions, vocabulary, and activities can be found in the FOR TEACHERS ONLY tab under each case.

Background summary and questions to consider (by reading level)

Important vocabulary (by reading level)

Legal Concepts

Other useful background information

Activities*

The Case
After the Case

* Answers to the background questions, vocabulary, and activities can be found in the FOR TEACHERS ONLY tab under each case.

Teaching strategies used

Planning time and activities

If you have one day . . .

If you have two days . . .

If you have three days . . .

If you have four days . . .

For Teachers Only

This section contains answers and tips for differentiated instruction for select activities. To gain access, simply sign in.

If you are new to LandmarkCases.org and don't already have an account, please create one. You will then complete your registration by filling out a brief registration form.

Contact: If you have questions/problems registering or accessing the teacher only materials, please contact Christina Barnett (cbarnett@streetlaw.org, 240.821.1324).

Share this page!

Print Facebook Twitter LinkedIn