About Gordon Hirabayashi

During World War II, Gordon Hirabayashi was a 24-year-old senior at the University of Washington - an American citizen by birth - when, as acts of civil disobedience, he defied a curfew imposed on persons of Japanese ancestry and refused to comply with military orders forcing Japanese Americans to leave the West Coast into concentration camps.  He appealed his convictions to the U.S. Supreme Court, which, in one of the most infamous cases in American history, held that the curfew order was justified by military necessity and was, therefore, constitutional.  A year and a half later, in Korematsu v. United States, the Court relied wholly on its decision in Hirabayashi to uphold the constitutionality of the mass removal of Japanese Americans.

Forty years later, in 1983, represented by a remarkable and dedicated team of lawyers, Mr. Hirabayashi reopened his case, filing a petition for writ of error coram nobis in Seattle, Washington, seeking vacation of his wartime convictions on the ground that the government, during World War II, had suppressed, altered, and destroyed material evidence relevant to the issue of military necessity.  In 1986, the Ninth Circuit, in an opinion authored by Judge Mary Schroeder, vacated both Mr. Hirabayashi's curfew and exclusion convictions on proof of the allegations of governmental misconduct.
Hirabayashi v. United States, 828 F.2d 591 (9th Cir. 1987).

Members of the Hirabayashi Team and Friends

Members of the Hirabayashi Team and Friends
Back row: Sharon Sakamoto, Camden Hall, Peter Irons; 2nd row: Aiko Herzig-Yoshinaga, Rod Kawakami, Michael Leong, Kathryn Bannai; Front row: Karen Kai, Rod Kawakami, Gordon Hirabayashi, Jack Herzig (holding Jared Nagae), Roger Shimizu
Photo courtesy of Stan Shikuma

Sullivan Hall Patio