History With SCOTUS


We’ve been so consumed with Donald Trump’s racism toward Hispanics that we almost forgot his hatred toward Muslims.

Yesterday, the Supreme Court, in another infamous 5-4 ruling, gave a victory to Trump’s travel ban on people from specific Muslim nations. In doing so, they chose to ignore Trump’s own words about banning Muslims.

During his presidential campaign, Trump called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” He didn’t call for a ban on specific nations or groups. It was directed at all Muslims. He called for a nationwide surveillance of mosques in the United States. He said we needed a national Muslim registry, and that he thinks “Islam hates us.”

That rhetoric was a factor in Trump’s ban being struck down in lower courts. So his legal team reworded it only for to be struck down again. The third attempt was also struck down but made its way to the Supreme Court who upheld it. Would the highest court have upheld either of the first two versions? If not, did they believe Trump’s hateful intention changed with the legal wording or by adding two non-Muslim nations to the list (one of which, North Korea, where no one ever travels to the U.S.).

While upholding Trump’s ban on Muslims, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that the court now officially rejects the court’s 1944 decision upholding the internment of Japanese Americans.

In 1942, the United States government, in a grip of fear, racism, and paranoia, ordered the incarceration of 110,000-120,000 people of Japanese ancestry, 62% of who was American citizens. The U.S. did not order the incarceration of Germans or Italians, white Europeans. The only ones we didn’t trust were those of Japanese descent.

Fred Korematsu refused to go. He was born in Oakland, which is not in Honshu, Kyushu, Hokkaido, or Shikoku. He left his job at his family’s flower nursery to become a welder to contribute to the war effort, as the Army had rejected him. Korematsu never broke a law that would send him to jail or a prison camp, but the Supreme Court, on a 6-3 decision, said he had to go. Years later, it was discovered the government argued their case with lies.

Most Americans consider the internment of our fellow citizens as one of the ugliest acts in our nation’s history. At the time, it had broad support. There were editorials in favor of incarcerating innocent civilians and American citizens in The Atlanta Constitution, the Los Angeles Times, and The Washington Post. The American Civil Liberties Union argued against the local branch of its organization’s fight for Korematsu’s case. For good measure, check out this Dr. Seuss cartoon, which he professed shame for years later.

John Roberts wrote, “Korematsu was gravely wrong the day it was decided, has been overruled in the court of history, and — to be clear — ‘has no place in law under the Constitution.’ ”

I read a comment a few days ago which went something like, “If you ever wondered what you would have done during Slavery, the Holocaust, Civil Rights Movement…you’re doing it right now.”

The Supreme Court, and so many others are doing it right now. What are you doing?

Watch me draw.

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  1. Everyone thinks SCOTUS is part of our great system of checks and balances, and the only one that is not supposed to be influenced by politics. Doesn’t always work that way. But even when it does, the problem with relying on the court for balance is that they never create anything on their own. That’s not their job. They decide only what is put in front of them by others, and then in the narrowest way possible – especially in the case of a SCOTUS that is continually 5 to 4, like now. In this case, the court made no mention of whether Trump is right or wrong. All they said was this specific plan is not a “Muslim ban” because it includes a couple of non-Muslim nations. Just like with the wedding cake baker, the court did not intend this to be an overall precedent. Basically, this court isn’t deciding much on anything.

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