Lawmakers push to award Congressional Gold Medal to activist who fought internment in WWII

Lawmakers push to award Congressional Gold Medal to activist who fought internment in WWII
© Anna Moneymaker

A bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced a bill Wednesday that would posthumously award activist Fred Korematsu with the Congressional Gold Medal for his efforts fighting against Japanese-American internment during World War II.

The legislation was introduced on what would have been Korematsu's 100th birthday. Sens. Mazie HironoMazie Keiko HironoSenate confirms Rosen for No. 2 spot at DOJ Alabama abortion law sparks fears Supreme Court may overturn Roe v. Wade The CASE Act is an opportunity for creators to have rights and remedies MORE (D-Hawaii), Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiOvernight Health Care — Presented by Campaign for Accountability — House passes drug pricing bills amid ObamaCare row | Senate Republicans running away from Alabama abortion law | Ocasio-Cortez confronts CEO over K drug price tag Senate Republicans running away from Alabama abortion law Bipartisan senators unveil measure to end surprise medical bills MORE (R-Alaska), Chris CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsMnuchin says carbon capture tax credit guidance will be out soon Mnuchin signals administration won't comply with subpoena for Trump tax returns Menendez, Rubio lead Senate effort to regulate Venezuelan sanctions MORE (D-Del.), Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerSenate Republicans running away from Alabama abortion law Frustrated GOP senators want answers from Trump on Iran Graham: Trump officials not adequately briefing on Iran threat MORE (R-Colo.) and Rep. Mark TakanoMark Allan TakanoThe Hill's Morning Report — Presented by Pass USMCA Coalition — Trump: GOP has `clear contrast' with Dems on immigration Dems push to revive Congress' tech office Veterans' suicides are an epidemic MORE (D-Calif.) introduced the bill.

"As a son of Japanese Americans who lived through Japanese internment during World War II, I find Mr. Korematsu’s legacy to be a guiding light for the work that I do in Congress," Takano said in a statement.

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"His life’s work placed civil rights at the forefront and it has been one of the cornerstones in the movement to build an America where everyone can be treated equally under the law.

“Fred Korematsu stood up for the rights of more than 120,000 Japanese Americans during World War II, and continued his fight for decades to expand civil rights and overturn his own false criminal conviction,” Hirono said. “Awarding the Congressional Gold Medal, Congress’ highest civilian honor, to Fred Korematsu is a fitting tribute to his lifelong pursuit of justice and equality.”

Korematsu was ordered to relocate to an internment camp in 1942 but refused. He was convicted of violating government orders and sentenced to five years probation. He legally challenged his internment, but the Supreme Court ruled against him 6-3 in 1944.

His conviction was overturned in 1983 and he was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1998.

Korematsu died in 2005 at the age of 86. The Supreme Court last year formally repudiated its previous ruling in his case.