Comparing COVID-19 Order to Korematsu Case an ‘Insult’
The National JACL issued a statement chastising a May 5 comparison made by a Wisconsin state Supreme Court justice of the governor’s COVID-19-related safer-at-home order to WWII concentration camps for Japanese Americans.
In its statement, the JACL said it “rejects this comparison as an insult to Japanese Americans who suffered the unconstitutional injustices of incarceration.”
According to news reports, Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Rebecca Bradley suggested that a decision by Andrea Palm, the state’s Department of Health Services secretary, to extend Gov. Tony Evers’ order without legislative input amounted to tyranny.
Bradley was quoted: “I’ll direct your attention to another time in history, in the Korematsu decision, where the (Supreme Court) said the need for action was great and time was short and that justified, and I’m quoting, ‘assembling together and placing under guard all those of Japanese ancestry’ in assembly centers during World War II.
“Could the secretary under this broad delegation of legislative power or legislative-like power order people out of their homes into centers where are they are properly social distanced in order to combat the pandemic?”
In its statement, the JACL said it “rejects this comparison as an insult to Japanese Americans who suffered the unconstitutional injustices of incarceration.” Added JACL Wisconsin Chapter President Ron Kuramoto: “I believe Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Rebecca Bradley poses a false equivalency when she uses the safer-at-home policy as a comparison for Executive Order 9066, which forced my parents, extended family, and over 120,000 Japanese Americans out of their homes and into, in some cases, horse stalls at Santa Anita Racetrack in California, then transferred and imprisoned my own and other families for over three years in shoddily-built tarpaper barracks in the desert or other desolate places. Bradley’s hyperbole denigrates my parents suffering and endurance.”
The JACL’s said it has previously called for caution in the invocation of historical comparisons to COVID-19 response.
Kuramoto also said, “To ask all Wisconsin residents to shelter in their homes for a short, defined period of weeks, as a response to a public health crisis like a pandemic, bears no relation to the intentional, legally unjustifiable thinking that imprisoned my family indefinitely, and forced them to sell — not suspend — their businesses. Bradley may believe that she is arguing constitutional principles, but her claim of a nonexistent equivalency distorts the conversation and denigrates the history and experience of Japanese Americans.”