Law school launches Korematsu Center for Law and Equality

A new law school center will study and combat discrimination through research, advocacy and education projects.

The Fred T. Korematsu Center for Law and Equality aims to advance social justice by fostering critical thinking about discrimination in U.S. society and through targeted advocacy to foster equality and freedom.

"This new center allows our talented faculty to build on the law school's strengths in the areas of race and the law to advance our mission for a more just and humane world," Dean Kellye Testy said.

The center's work will be divided into three units: research, advocacy and education projects.

Its research unit will focus on understanding the relationship between law and categories of race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, class, disability and religion, especially with regard to their intersections. It will bring together scholars from various disciplines and will support interdisciplinary scholarship.

The advocacy unit will apply this understanding to combat discrimination through targeted advocacy efforts. The education unit will create a focus area in Law and Equality for J.D. students and will help train the next generation of scholar/teacher/activists through post-graduate teaching and advocacy fellowships.

The Center is named for Fred Korematsu, who defied an order that required all persons of Japanese ancestry in the area of Oakland, California, to report for detention. He was jailed and then sent for internment. The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed his conviction. Forty years later, the Federal District Court for the Northern District of California vacated that conviction on proof that the government had suppressed, altered and destroyed material evidence that contradicted the government's claim of military necessity.

Korematsu went on to champion the cause of civil liberties, seeking redress for Japanese Americans who were wrongfully interned and traveling the country speaking about his case and other violations of civil rights, especially after 9/11.

The center is directed by Professor Robert Chang, a noted scholar in the area of race and the law. Professor Lori Bannai, who was a member of the legal team that worked to reverse Korematsu's wartime conviction and is writing a biography of Korematsu, is associate director. The center will build on the law school's strong faculty in the area of law and equality, including Professors Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic, leading authorities in critical race theory, and Professor Margaret Chon, co-author of "Race, Rights and Reparation: Law and the Japanese American Internment."

Several events are being planned for the spring semester, culminating in a formal launch and celebration in April.

Sullivan Hall