School of Law marks launch of Fred T. Korematsu Center for Law and Equality

A conference and celebration will mark the formal launch of Seattle University School of Law's Fred T. Korematsu Center for Law and Equality Saturday, April 18.

The morning session will look back on the historic struggle for equality, focusing on the World War II Japanese American internment cases, the cases fighting Korematsu's conviction for refusing to comply with orders removing Japanese Americans from the West Coast, and their present day relevance. The date of the conference was selected to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the decision vacating Korematsu's conviction.

The afternoon session will bring together advocacy groups and academics to discuss ways to forge partnerships to further the cause of equality. Professor Margaret Chon, the Donald and Lynda Horowitz Professor for the Pursuit of Justice, will give the keynote address.

Other speakers throughout the day include Peter Irons, author of "Justice at War," and a member of the Korematsu legal team; Professor Eric Yamamoto, University of Hawai'i Richardson School of Law and Korematsu legal team member; Rod Kawakami, lead counsel, Hirabayashi legal team; Dale Minami, MinamiTamaki, San Francisco, lead counsel, Korematsu legal team; Jenny Pizer, senior counsel and Marriage Project Director, Lambda Legal, Los Angeles; Professor Kimberly West-Faulcon, Loyola Law School, Los Angeles; Karen Narasaki, Asian American Justice Center, Washington, D.C., Karen Kai, Korematsu legal team, and Titi Liu, Executive Director, Asian Law Caucus, San Francisco.

Members of the Korematsu family will attend the event and present a special photograph at a reception following the conference.

There is no charge to attend, but space is limited and registration is required by April 8. Register online or by calling 206.398.4300.

The Korematsu Center for Law and Equality will study and combat discrimination through research, advocacy and education projects. It 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.

Sullivan Hall