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Ex Parte Endo

Ex Parte Endo


What is Ex parte Endo?

Ex parte Endo is short for the case Ex parte Mitsuye Endo.  It’s one of the most important cases in United States concerning the rights of Japanese-Americans.  The case eventually reached the Supreme Court, and the Court ruled 9-0 that Japanese-American citizens could not remain detained if the government believed they were loyal to the United States. 

Background to the Ex parte Endo Case

A large amount of Japanese-Americans were detained in camps during World War II as the United States was at war with Japan.  The majority of these camps were located on the West Coast. 

Executive Order 9066 allowed the United States government to detain Americans with Japanese ancestry during the time of war, but Executive Order 9066 was challenged in 1942 by Mitsuye Endo, the only female to resist against the Executive Order.  Ms. Endo was contacted by a civil liberties attorney named James Purcell while she was detained at the Tule Lake concentration camp in Northern California.  Purcell wanted Ms. Endo to challenge the case, and he helped her file a habeas corpus petition in 1942. 

The Ex parte Endo Case

After the petition was filed, it was denied by the court one year later and Ms. Endo was transferred to the Central Utah Relocation Center in Topaz, Utah.  After she arrived at the Relocation Center, she filed an appeal with the Circuit Court of Appeals, and the case eventually went before the Supreme Court. 

Korematsu v. United States was brought before the Supreme Court at the same time.  The case challenged the constitutionality of Executive Order 9066 which allowed the government to place Japanese Americans in the camps even if they were U.S. citizens. 

The court heard both of the cases on October 11, 1944, but the Supreme Court decided to delay their decision until December 18, 1944.  The date of the decision by the Supreme Court fell one day after President Roosevelt announced the Executive Order was being ended by the Western Defense Command. 

The Supreme Court still made decisions on both of the cases though.  During the Ex parte Endo case, the Supreme Court ruled that the government could not continue to detain Mitsuye Endo in a concentration camp because she posed no danger to the United States.  The decision by the Supreme Court allowed Japanese-Americans to return to the West Coast and resettle. 

The Korematsu v. United States Case

The Court did not rule so favorably in the Korematsu case.  In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the Order was constitutional because the risk of espionage was more important than the rights of Korematsu and all other Japanese-Americans. 

Indefinite Detainment

The case has remained controversial until today, and unlawful detention is still a pressing issue within the United States.  Recent controversy has centered on the Patriot Act and the fact that federal authorities can detain a suspected terrorist for an indefinite amount of time.