“That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach us.”
English writer, novelist, philosopher,
On the same day (and in the same decision) that the conservative majority of the Supreme Court justices upheld President Donald Trump’s Muslim travel ban, the High Court finally overturned the infamous 1944 Supreme Court decision blessing internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.
For the first time in its history, the Supreme Court admitted that it made a very bad decision. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that the Court’s decision in Korematsu v. United States, in which the government argued that the internment of Japanese-American citizens was necessary to protect national security, was “gravely wrong the day it was decided, has been overruled in the court of history, and — to be clear — has no place in law under the Constitution.”
It turns out that the government’s argument about the risk that Japanese-Americans were to America’s national security was bogus and had no basis in fact.
Now flash forward to 2018 and the 5-4 ruling on Trump’s travel ban along partisan lines. The Court held that Trump has broad powers under immigration law to act to protect national security. That national security argument put forth by the government in the travel ban case is also bogus and had no basis in fact.
In a blistering dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor compared the majority opinion on Trump’s travel ban to the “gravely wrong” decision in Korematsu v. United States. She wrote, “By blindly accepting the Government’s misguided invitation to sanction a discriminatory policy motivated by animosity toward a disfavored group, all in the name of a superficial claim of national security, the Court redeploys the same dangerous logic underlying Korematsu and merely replaces one ‘gravely wrong’ decision with another.”
Botton line, the Supreme Court justices who ruled yesterday to uphold Trump’s Muslim travel ban used the same bogus national security claim that the justices used to permit the imprisonment of Japanese-American citizens 74 years earlier.
So Huxley was right on target. The Supreme Court’s decision to uphold Trump’s travel ban is yet another example of not learning very much from the lessons of history.
Written for Linda G. Hill’s One-Liner Wednesday prompt. Sorry for such a serious post, but I’m just not feeling the humor much in recent days.