Roo­sevelt kin speaks on Ja­panese in­tern­ment, refugee back­lash

The Washington Times Weekly - - Culture, Etc. - BY JEF­FREY SCOTT SHAPIRO

The great-great-grand­son of Theodore Roo­sevelt and dis­tant cousin Franklin De­lano Roo­sevelt spoke at the Ge­orge­town based Har­vard Club about his new his­tor­i­cal novel and le­gal thriller, which ex­am­ines the con­sti­tu­tion­al­ity of Ja­panese in­tern­ment dur­ing World War II, and the bal­ance be­tween lib­erty and se­cu­rity in a free so­ci­ety.

Ker­mit Roo­sevelt III, a for­mer clerk of Supreme Court Jus­tice David Souter now teach­ing con­sti­tu­tional law at the Univer­sity of Penn­syl­va­nia Law School, pub­lished in the later sum­mer “Al­le­giance,” a fic­tional tale sur­round­ing his cousin’s sweep­ing use of ex­ec­u­tive author­ity against Ja­panese Amer­i­cans dur­ing World War II.

The book, with char­ac­ters in­clud­ing such his­tor­i­cal fig­ures as Supreme Court Jus­tices Hugo Black and Felix Frank­furter, has re­ceived praise from ma­jor con­ser­va­tive-lean­ing news­pa­pers such as The Wall Street Jour­nal and Rich­mond Times-Dis­patch.

“There’s a cy­cle that re­peats it­self in Amer­i­can history: we fear, we per­pe­trate in­jus­tice and we re­gret it,” Mr. Roo­sevelt told The Wash­ing­ton Times. “We hurt in­no­cent peo­ple who pose no threat be­cause they re­mind us some­how of those who do. It hap­pened af­ter Pearl Har­bor with the de­ten­tion of Ja­panese Amer­i­cans, it hap­pened af­ter 9/11 with the CIA tor­ture pro­gram and we see it hap­pen­ing again with some of the sug­ges­tions made in re­sponse to the Paris at­tack. But if we learn from history, we can break out of that cy­cle. This book aims to help us understand why we re­act the way we do so that we can avoid re­peat­ing the mis­takes of the past.”

Mr. Roo­sevelt’s book tour comes in the midst of a global de­bate about mi­gra­tion fol­low­ing the Nov. 13 Is­lamic State at­tacks on Paris, which killed 130 peo­ple and left 368 in­jured. The at­tacks rat­tled the Western world, prompt­ing French Pres­i­dent Fran­cois Hol­lande to de­clare a state of emer­gency and launch es­ca­lated airstrikes against Raqqa, the Syr­ian city where the Is­lamic State is head­quar­tered.

In the U.S., the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives passed leg­is­la­tion to en­hance scru­tiny on Syr­ian and Iraqi refugees, while 31 gov­er­nors ex­pressed pub­lic op­po­si­tion to ac­cept­ing more refugees from those coun­tries.

Last week, the de­bate be­tween gov­ern­ment in­tru­sion and na­tional se­cu­rity heated af­ter Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial front-run­ner Don­ald Trump said the U.S. should en­gage in “sur­veil­lance of cer­tain mosques,” and that he would “ab­so­lutely take a data­base on the peo­ple com­ing in from Syria.”

In “Al­le­giance,” Mr. Roo­sevelt pro­vides le­gal anal­y­sis of Amer­i­can ju­rispru­dence con­cern­ing Ja­panese in­tern­ment and the le­gal lim­its of na­tional se­cu­rity, in­clud­ing Kore­matsu v. United States, the land­mark case that up­held the con­sti­tu­tion­al­ity of Ex­ec­u­tive Or­der 9066, in which Pres­i­dent Franklin Roo­sevelt or­dered Ja­pane­seAmer­i­cans into in­tern­ment camps.

“The Kore­matsu case shows the lim­its of what courts can do by them­selves,” Mr. Roo­sevelt ex­plained. “Jus­tice Black’s opin­ion in Kore­matsu stated that racial clas­si­fi­ca­tions that cur­tailed the civil rights of a sin­gle racial group should be strictly scru­ti­nized. But the court then failed to per­form that scru­tiny, ac­cept­ing very im­plau­si­ble jus­ti­fi­ca­tions for driv­ing Amer­i­cans from their homes. What this shows is that the Court by it­self is prob­a­bly in­ca­pable of stand­ing up against claims of mil­i­tary ne­ces­sity.”

Of the three jus­tices who dis­sented against the Ja­panese in­tern­ment, one was Jus­tice Owen Roberts, the lone Repub­li­can pick on the court.

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