Civil Liberties Act of 1988
|Enacted by the||100th United States Congress|
|Public Law||Pub.L. 100–383|
|Stat.||102 Stat. 904|
The Civil Liberties Act of 1988 (Pub.L. 100–383, title I, August 10, 1988, 102 Stat. 904, 50a U.S.C. § 1989b et seq.) is a United States federal law that granted reparations to Japanese Americans who had been interned by the United States government during World War II. The act was sponsored by California's Democratic Congressman Norman Mineta, an internee as a child, and Wyoming's Republican Senator Alan K. Simpson, who first met Mineta while visiting an internment camp. The third co-sponsor was California Senator Pete Wilson. The bill was supported by the majority of Democrats in Congress, while the majority of Republicans voted against it. The act was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan.
The act granted each surviving internee about US$20,000 in compensation, with payments beginning in 1990. The legislation stated that government actions were based on "race prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership" as opposed to genuine legitimacy.
Because the law was restricted to American citizens or legal permanent residents, the ethnic Japanese that had been taken from their homes in Latin America (mostly from Peru) were not covered in the reparations, regardless of whether, after the war, they remained in the United States, returned to Latin America, or were deported to Japan. In 1996, Carmen Mochizuki filed a class-action lawsuit, and won a settlement of around $5,000 per person to those eligible from what was left of the funds from the CLA. 145 of those affected were able to receive the $5,000 settlement before the funds ran out. In 1999, funds were approved for the attorney general to pay out to the rest of the claimants.
Japanese American internment
Japanese American internment was the forced removal and internment of approximately 120,000 Japanese and Japanese Americans (62% of whom were United States citizens) from the West Coast of the United States during World War II. While approximately 10,000 were able to relocate to other parts of the country of their own choosing, the remainder – roughly 110,000 men, women and children – were sent to hastily constructed camps called "War Relocation Centers" in remote portions of the nation's interior.
President Franklin Roosevelt authorized the internment with Executive Order 9066, which allowed local military commanders to designate "military areas" as "exclusion zones", from which "any or all persons may be excluded." This power was used to declare that all people of Japanese ancestry were excluded from the entire Pacific coast, including all of California and most of Oregon and Washington, except for those in internment camps. In 1944, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the exclusion, removal, and detention, arguing that it is permissible to curtail the civil rights of a racial group when there is a "pressing public necessity."
Some compensation for property losses was paid in 1948, but most internees were unable to fully recover their losses. In 1988, President Ronald Reagan signed legislation which apologized for the internment on behalf of the U.S. government. The legislation stated that government actions were based on "race prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership", and beginning in 1990, the government paid reparations to surviving internees.
Civil Liberties Act of 1988
The Civil Liberties Act of 1988, "Restitution for World War II internment of Japanese-Americans and Aleuts," states that it is intended to:
- acknowledge the fundamental injustice of the evacuation, relocation, and internment of United States citizens and permanent resident aliens of Japanese ancestry during World War II;
- apologize on behalf of the people of the United States for the evacuation, relocation, and internment of such citizens and permanent resident aliens;
- provide for a public education fund to finance efforts to inform the public about the internment of such individuals so as to prevent the recurrence of any similar event;
- make restitution to those individuals of Japanese ancestry who were interned;
- make restitution to Aleut residents of the Pribilof Islands and the Aleutian Islands west of Unimak Island, in settlement of United States obligations in equity and at law, for -
- injustices suffered and unreasonable hardships endured while those Aleut residents were under United States control during World War II;
- personal property taken or destroyed by United States forces during World War II;
- community property, including community church property, taken or destroyed by United States forces during World War II; and
- traditional village lands on Attu Island not rehabilitated after World War II for Aleut occupation or other productive use;
- discourage the occurrence of similar injustices and violations of civil liberties in the future; and
- make more credible and sincere any declaration of concern by the United States over violations of human rights committed by other nations.
Congressional support and opposition
While the majority of Democrats in Congress voted for the bill, the majority of Republicans voted against it. On September 17, 1987, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the bill by a vote of 243 to 141, with 38 members not voting. The majority of Democrats in the House voted for the bill (180 in favor vs. 43 opposed) while a majority of Republicans voted against it (63 in favor vs. 98 opposed). On April 20, 1988, the U.S. Senate passed the bill by a vote of 69 to 27, with 4 members not voting. A large majority of Democrats voted for the bill (44 in favor vs. 7 opposed), while a more narrow majority of Senate Republicans also voted for the bill (25 in favor vs. 20 opposed).
References and notes
- 100th Congress, S. 1009, reproduced at internmentarchives.com; accessed 19 Sept. 2006.
- Court TV Library: Civil Rights Cases - Japanese WWII Internment
- "CAMPAIGN FOR JUSTICE". Nikkei for Civil Rights and Redress. Retrieved 2007-03-12.
- Various primary and secondary sources list counts between 110,000 and 120,000 persons.
- Semiannual Report of the War Relocation Authority, for the period January 1 to June 30, 1946, not dated. Papers of Dillon S. Myer. Scanned image at trumanlibrary.org. Accessed 18 Sept. 2006.
- "The War Relocation Authority and The Incarceration of Japanese Americans During World War II: 1948 Chronology," Web page at www.trumanlibrary.org, accessed 11 Sep 2006
- Korematsu v. United States dissent by Justice Owen Josephus Roberts, reproduced at findlaw.com, accessed 12 Sept. 2006
- Korematsu v. United States majority opinion by Justice Hugo Black, reproduced at findlaw.com, accessed 11 Sept. 2006
- House Vote #304 (Sep 17, 1987) from GovTrack.us roll call records, accessed 21 August 2010
- Senate Vote #525 (Apr 20, 1988) from GovTrack.us roll call records, accessed 21 August 2010
- Japanese American Citizens League
- Japanese American internment
- Japanese American National Library