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 HironoLiberal commentator: Trump's warning that supporters could play tough is a 'violent dog whistle' Hirono calls out Trump for 'appalling' comments she says encourage violence Overnight Defense: Senate rejects border emergency in rebuke to Trump | Acting Pentagon chief grilled on wall funding | Warren confronts chief over war fund budget MORE (D-Hawaii), Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiThe 25 Republicans who defied Trump on emergency declaration Overnight Defense: Senate rejects border emergency in rebuke to Trump | Acting Pentagon chief grilled on wall funding | Warren confronts chief over war fund budget 12 Republican senators defy Trump on emergency declaration  MORE (R-Alaska), Chris CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsSenate Dem calls on Trump to apologize for attacks on McCain Sixteen years later, let's finally heed the call of the 9/11 Commission  Senate Dems introduce bill demanding report on Khashoggi killing MORE (D-Del.), Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerRepublicans up for reelection fear daylight with Trump The Hill's Morning Report — Trump readies first veto after latest clash with Senate GOP Denver Post editorial board says Gardner endorsement was 'mistake' MORE (R-Colo.) and Rep. Mark TakanoMark Allan TakanoHouse Democrats open investigation of Trump associates' influence at VA Watchdog probes Trump administration over changes to labor rules Lawmakers push to award Congressional Gold Medal to activist who fought internment in WWII 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.

ADVERTISEMENT

"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.