Supreme Court, racial classifications, Executive Order 9066, Robert A. Leflar, constitutional analysis


There is no more appropriate place to discuss the Japanese American cases of World War II than in the pages of the Arkansas Law Review. This is not only because Arkansas was the only state outside the Western Defense Command to host not one but two of the War Relocation Authority’s (WRA) concentration camps for Japanese Americans. It is because one of the most important lawyers to oversee the development and administration of all the WRA camps was the dean under whose leadership this law review was founded: Robert A. Leflar. Leflar’s is not a name that constitutional lawyers are likely to remember in connection with the mass removal and detention of Japanese Americans in World War II. That’s because he, unlike a Charles Fahy or an Edward Ennis, had no role in Korematsu v. United States, the notorious Supreme Court decision that is the subject of Mark Killenbeck’s article Sober Second Thought? Korematsu Reconsidered. But he played a much bigger role than those men, supervising the day-to-day work of the agency lawyers stationed at each of the camps from 1942 to 1944. It was Leflar and a few other lawyers at his level who shaped the circumstances under which Japanese Americans were confined and ultimately released.