12/7 and 9/11: War, Liberties, and the Lessons of History

23 Pages Posted: 6 Dec 2002

See all articles by Eric L. Muller

Eric L. Muller

University of North Carolina School of Law

Date Written: December 2002


In this essay, originally presented as the Edward G. Donley Memorial Lecture at the West Virginia University College of Law in February, 2002, Muller compares the Roosevelt administration's domestic policies affecting Japanese Americans after the attack on Pearl Harbor with the Bush administration's domestic policies affecting people of Arab ancestry and Muslim faith after the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson, dissenting in the 1944 Korematsu case, predicted that the Court's opinion upholding the eviction of 120,000 Japanese Americans from the West Coast would "lie about like a loaded weapon," threatening future generations. Canvassing the Bush administration's post-September 11 policies touching on race and ethnicity, Muller finds a healthy measure of restraint - a significantly greater measure of restraint than the Roosevelt administration showed in the days after Pearl Harbor, and, more interestingly, a significantly greater measure of restraint than has marked the Bush administration's post-9/11 policies that do not touch on race and ethnicity.

Muller challenges the oft-heard assertion that the Bush administration's policies repeat the mistake of Korematsu, and speculates that recent events may show that the racist assumptions that underlay the Roosevelt administration's policies have been pushed to, or even beyond, the fringes of acceptable policy discourse, even in times of crisis.

Keywords: War, constitutional liberties, Korematsu, internment, terrorism

Suggested Citation

Muller, Eric L., 12/7 and 9/11: War, Liberties, and the Lessons of History (December 2002). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=354761 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.354761

Eric L. Muller (Contact Author)

University of North Carolina School of Law ( email )

Van Hecke-Wettach Hall, 160 Ridge Road
CB #3380
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3380
United States
919-962-7067 (Phone)
919-962-1277 (Fax)

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics