By Adam Liptak, The New York Times, Jan. 27, 2014 — The Supreme Court’s 1944 decision in Korematsu v. United States was a disaster. In endorsing an executive order that required 110,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry to be removed from their homes and confined in detention camps, the court relied on wartime hysteria streaked with racism, sullying its reputation and damaging the constitutional principles it was meant to uphold.
Justice Antonin Scalia has ranked Korematsu alongside Dred Scott, the 1857 decision that black slaves were property and not citizens, as among the court’s most shameful blunders.
Justice Stephen G. Breyer has written that Korematsu has lost all potency as precedent. “The decision has been so thoroughly discredited,” he wrote in a recent book, “that it is hard to conceive of any future court referring to it favorably or relying on it.”
But Korematsu has never been overruled.
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