The Constitution in a Time of War: The Trial of Minoru Yasui

Japanese-American lawyer Minoru Yasui defied a curfew order issued under Executive Order 9066 to challenge its legality in court.

Special thanks to Francis Chin for creating the PowerPoint for the Yasui reenactment


YASUI: Your Honor — if the Court please, I should like to say a few words. There is no intent to plead for leniency for myself or to request a mitigation of the punishment that is about to be inflicted upon me.  Despite the circumstances, I am compelled to pay tribute and give my unreserved respect to this honorable court for its clear-cut and courageous reaffirmation of the inviolability of the fundamental civil rights and liberties of an American citizen.  As an American citizen, it was for a clarification and the preservation of those rights that I undertook this case, confident that the American judiciary would zealously defend those rights, war or no war, to preserve the fundamental democratic doctrines of our nation and to perpetuate the eternal truths of America.  My confidence has been justified and I feel the greatest satisfaction and patriotic uplift in the decision of this honorable court, for it is full of significance for every American, be he humble or mighty.  I say that I am glad, regardless of the personal consequences to me, because I believe in the future and in the ultimate destiny of America. . . .I have lived, believed, worked and aspired as an American. With due respect to this honorable court, in all good conscience, I can say that I have never, and will never, voluntarily relinquish my American citizenship.  The decision of this honorable court to the contrary notwithstanding, I am an American citizen, who is not only proud of that fact, but who is willing to defend that right.



Korematsu Lecture, NYU Law School, New York, NY, March 10, 2009
NAPABA Northeast Regional Conference, Norwalk, CT, May 3, 2008
NAPABA Annual Convention, Las Vegas, NV, November 26, 2007


The Asian Pacific American Bar Association of South Florida, Fort Lauderdale, FL, June 22, 2018
Pan Asian Lawyers of San Diego, US Courthouse, San Diego, CA, May 24, 2017
University of Pennsylvania Law School Inn of Court, PA, February 9, 2016
APALA-NJ, New Jersey Judicial College, Teaneck, NJ, November 26, 2013
APALSA, Hofstra Law School, Hempstead, NY, April 22, 2013
Orange County Asian American Bar Association and Orange County Korean American Bar Association, NAPABA Western Regional Conference, Huntington Beach, CA, August 25, 2012
History Department Students, Princeton University, Constitution Day Lecture, Princeton, NJ, September 16, 2010
Oregon Minority Lawyers Association, Lakewood Center for the Arts, Portland, OR, February 18, 2009