Text: S.277 — 116th Congress (2019-2020)All Information (Except Text)

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Introduced in Senate (01/30/2019)

[Congressional Bills 116th Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]
[S. 277 Introduced in Senate (IS)]


  1st Session
                                 S. 277

To posthumously award a Congressional Gold Medal to Fred Korematsu, in 
         recognition of his dedication to justice and equality.



                            January 30, 2019

  Ms. Hirono (for herself, Ms. Murkowski, Mr. Gardner, and Mr. Coons) 
introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the 
            Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs


                                 A BILL

To posthumously award a Congressional Gold Medal to Fred Korematsu, in 
         recognition of his dedication to justice and equality.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled,


    This Act may be cited as the ``Fred Korematsu Congressional Gold 
Medal Act of 2019''.


    Congress finds the following:
            (1) On January 30, 1919, Fred Toyosaburo Korematsu was born 
        in Oakland, California to Japanese immigrants.
            (2) Fred Korematsu graduated from Castlemont High School in 
        1937 and attempted to enlist in the military twice but was 
        unable to do so because his selective service classification 
        was changed to enemy alien, even though Fred Korematsu was a 
        United States citizen.
            (3) Fred Korematsu trained as a welder and worked as a 
        foreman at the docks in Oakland until the date on which he and 
        all Japanese Americans were fired.
            (4) On December 7, 1941, Japan attacked the military base 
        in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, causing the United States to declare 
        war against Japan.
            (5) On February 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt 
        signed Executive Order 9066 (7 Fed. Reg. 1407 (February 25, 
        1942)), which authorized the Secretary of War to prescribe 
        military areas--
                    (A) from which any or all people could be excluded; 
                    (B) with respect to which, the right of any person 
                to enter, remain in, or leave would be subject to any 
                restriction the Military Commander imposed in his 
            (6) On May 3, 1942, the Lieutenant General of the Western 
        Command of the Army issued Civilian Exclusion Order 34 (May 3, 
        1942) (referred to in this Act as the ``Civilian Exclusion 
        Order'') directing that all people of Japanese ancestry be 
        removed from designated areas of the West Coast after May 9, 
        1942, because people of Japanese ancestry in the designated 
        areas were considered to pose a threat to national security.
            (7) Fred Korematsu refused to comply with the Civilian 
        Exclusion Order and was arrested on May 30, 1942.
            (8) After his arrest, Fred Korematsu--
                    (A) was held for 2\1/2\ months in the Presidio 
                stockade in San Francisco, California;
                    (B) was convicted on September 8, 1942, of 
                violating the Civilian Exclusion Order and sentenced to 
                5 years of probation; and
                    (C) was detained at Tanforan Assembly Center, a 
                former horse racetrack used as a holding facility for 
                Japanese Americans before he was exiled with his family 
                to the Topaz incarceration camp in the State of Utah.
            (9) More than 120,000 Japanese Americans were similarly 
        detained, with no charges brought and without due process, in 
        10 permanent War Relocation Authority camps and other temporary 
        camps located in the States of Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, 
        California, Colorado, Idaho, Utah, and Wyoming, many in 
        isolated areas.
            (10) The people of the United States subject to the 
        Civilian Exclusion Order lost their homes, livelihoods, and the 
        freedoms guaranteed to all people of the United States.
            (11) Fred Korematsu unsuccessfully challenged the Civilian 
        Exclusion Order as it applied to him and appealed the decision 
        of the United States District Court to the United States Court 
        of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which sustained his 
            (12) Fred Korematsu was subsequently confined with his 
        family in the incarceration camp in Topaz, Utah, for 2 years, 
        and during that time, Fred Korematsu appealed his conviction to 
        the Supreme Court of the United States.
            (13) On December 18, 1944, the Supreme Court of the United 
        States issued Korematsu v. United States, 323 U.S. 214 (1944), 
                    (A) upheld the conviction of Fred Korematsu by a 
                vote of 6 to 3; and
                    (B) concluded that Fred Korematsu was removed from 
                his home not based on hostility toward him or other 
                Japanese Americans but because the United States was at 
                war with Japan and the military feared a Japanese 
                invasion of the West Coast.
            (14) In his dissenting opinion, Justice Frank Murphy called 
        the Civilian Exclusion Order the ``legalization of racism''.
            (15) Two other Supreme Court Justices dissented from the 
        majority decision in Korematsu v. United States, including 
        Justice Jackson, who described the validation of the principle 
        of racial discrimination as a ``loaded weapon, ready for the 
        hand of any authority that can bring forward a plausible claim 
        of an urgent need''.
            (16) Fred Korematsu continued to maintain his innocence for 
        decades following World War II, and his conviction hampered his 
        ability to gain employment.
            (17) In 1982, legal historian Peter Irons and researcher 
        Aiko Yoshinaga-Herzig gained access to Government documents 
        under section 552 of title 5, United States Code (commonly 
        known as the ``Freedom of Information Act''), that indicate 
        that while the case of Fred Korematsu was before the Supreme 
        Court of the United States, the Government misled the Supreme 
        Court of the United States and suppressed findings that 
        Japanese Americans on the West Coast were not security threats.
            (18) In light of the newly discovered information, Fred 
        Korematsu filed a writ of error coram nobis with the United 
        States District Court for the Northern District of California, 
        and on November 10, 1983, United States District Judge Marilyn 
        Hall Patel issued her decision in Korematsu v. United States, 
        584 F. Supp. 1406 (N.D. Cal. 1984), that--
                    (A) overturned the conviction of Fred Korematsu;
                    (B) concluded that, at the time that senior 
                Government officials presented their case before the 
                Supreme Court of the United States in 1944, the senior 
                Government officials knew there was no factual basis 
                for the claim of military necessity for the Civil 
                Exclusion Order;
                    (C) acknowledged that ``the government knowingly 
                withheld information from the courts when they were 
                considering the critical question of military 
                necessity'' in the original case;
                    (D) recognized that ``there is substantial support 
                in the record that the government deliberately omitted 
                relevant information and provided misleading 
                information in papers before the court. The information 
                was critical to the court's determination''; and
                    (E) stated that although the decision of the 
                Supreme Court of the United States in Korematsu v. 
                United States, 323 U.S. 214 (1944), remains on the 
                pages of United States legal and political history, 
                ``[a]s historical precedent it stands as a constant 
                caution that in times of war or declared military 
                necessity our institutions must be vigilant in 
                protecting constitutional guarantees''.
            (19) The Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of 
        Civilians, authorized by Congress in 1980 to review the facts 
        and circumstances surrounding the relocation and incarceration 
        of Japanese Americans under Executive Order 9066 (7 Fed. Reg. 
        1407 (February 25, 1942)), concluded that--
                    (A) the decision of the Supreme Court of the United 
                States in Korematsu v. United States, 323 U.S. 214 
                (1944), is overruled by the court of history;
                    (B) a grave personal injustice was done to the 
                United States citizens and resident aliens of Japanese 
                ancestry who, without individual review or any 
                probative evidence against them, were excluded, 
                removed, and detained by the United States during World 
                War II; and
                    (C) the exclusion, removal, and detention of United 
                States citizens and resident aliens of Japanese 
                ancestry were motivated largely by ``racial prejudice, 
                wartime hysteria, and a failure of political 
            (20) The overturning of the conviction of Fred Korematsu 
        and the findings of the Commission on Wartime Relocation and 
        Internment of Civilians influenced the decision by Congress to 
        pass the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 (50 U.S.C. 4211 et seq.) 
        to request a Presidential apology and the symbolic payment of 
        compensation to people of Japanese ancestry who lost liberty or 
        property due to discriminatory actions of the Federal 
            (21) On August 10, 1988, President Reagan signed the Civil 
        Liberties Act of 1988 (50 U.S.C. 4211 et seq.), stating, 
        ``[H]ere we admit a wrong; here we reaffirm our commitment as a 
        nation to equal justice under the law.''.
            (22) On January 15, 1998, President Clinton awarded the 
        Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award of 
        the United States, to Fred Korematsu, stating, ``[i]n the long 
        history of our country's constant search for justice, some 
        names of ordinary citizens stand for millions of souls: Plessy, 
        Brown, Parks. To that distinguished list, today we add the name 
        of Fred Korematsu.''.
            (23) Fred Korematsu remained a tireless advocate for civil 
        liberties and justice throughout his life by--
                    (A) speaking out against racial discrimination and 
                violence; and
                    (B) cautioning the Government against repeating 
                mistakes of the past that singled out individuals for 
                heightened scrutiny on the basis of race, ethnicity, 
                nationality, or religion.
            (24) On March 30, 2005, Fred Korematsu died at the age of 
        86 in Marin County, California.
            (25) Fred Korematsu is a role model for all people of the 
        United States who love the United States and the promises 
        contained in the Constitution of the United States, and the 
        strength and perseverance of Fred Korematsu serve as an 
        inspiration for all people who strive for equality and justice.


    (a) Award Authorized.--The President pro tempore of the Senate and 
the Speaker of the House of Representatives shall make appropriate 
arrangements for the posthumous award, on behalf of Congress, of a gold 
medal of appropriate design to Fred Korematsu, in recognition of his 
contributions to civil rights, his loyalty and patriotism to the United 
States, and his dedication to justice and equality.
    (b) Design and Striking.--For the purposes of the award referred to 
in subsection (a), the Secretary of the Treasury (referred to in this 
Act as the ``Secretary'') shall strike a gold medal with suitable 
emblems, devices, and inscriptions to be determined by the Secretary.
    (c) Smithsonian Institution.--
            (1) In general.--Following the award of the gold medal in 
        honor of Fred Korematsu under subsection (a), the gold medal 
        shall be given to the Smithsonian Institution, where it will be 
        available for display as appropriate and made available for 
            (2) Sense of congress.--It is the sense of Congress that 
        the Smithsonian Institution should make the gold medal received 
        under subparagraph (1) available for--
                    (A) display, particularly at the National Portrait 
                Gallery; or
                    (B) loan, as appropriate, so that the medal may be 
                displayed elsewhere.


    Under regulations that the Secretary may promulgate, the Secretary 
may strike and sell duplicates in bronze of the gold medals struck 
under this Act, at a price sufficient to cover the cost of the medals, 
including labor, materials, dies, use of machinery, and overhead 


    (a) National Medals.--Medals struck under this Act are national 
medals for purposes of chapter 51 of title 31, United States Code.
    (b) Numismatic Items.--For purposes of section 5134 of title 31, 
United States Code, all medals struck under this Act shall be 
considered to be numismatic items.


    (a) Authority To Use Fund Amounts.--There is authorized to be 
charged against the United States Mint Public Enterprise Fund, such 
amounts as may be necessary to pay for the costs of the medals struck 
pursuant to this Act.
    (b) Proceeds of Sale.--Amounts received from the sale of duplicate 
bronze medals authorized under section 4 shall be deposited into the 
United States Mint Public Enterprise Fund.

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