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Legal Milestone List

  The Great Ferris Fire
  Berrien County Courthouse
  Elloitt-Larsen Civil Rights Act
  Milliken v. Bradley
  Elk, Oil, and the Environment
  Whisper to Rallying Cry
  Poletown & Eminent Domain
  Prentiss M. Brown
  Otis Milton Smith
  Freedom Road
  President Gerald R. Ford
  Mary Coleman
  Committee of One
  Milo Radulovich
  Striking Racial Covenants
  Murphy's Dissent
  Conveying Michigan
  Ending Jim Crow
  Pond's Defense
  Mount Clemens Pottery
  Emelia Schaub
  Rose of Aberlone
  Protecting the Impaired
  Laughing Whitefish
  The Uninvited Ear
  The King's Grant
  Improving Justice
  One Person—One Vote
  Eva Belles' Vote
  Constitutional Convention
  Ten Hours or No Sawdust
  Access to Public Water
  Augustus Woodward
  Sojourner Truth
  Justice William Fletcher
  Roosevelt-Newett Trial
  Cooley Law Office
  Baseball Reserve Clause
  Ossian Sweet Trial

24. Murphy's Dissent

Michigan's U.S. Supreme Court Justice Frank Murphy wrote an impassioned dissent in Korematsu, protesting the decision to uphold exclusion orders imposed upon persons of Japanese descent during World War II. Dedicated and placed in front of the Frank Murphy home in Harbor Beach on August 16, 1996.


Complete Text on Milestone Marker

Murphy's Dissent

A hostile climate confronted Americans of Japanese descent following the attack on Pearl Harbor that led to United States' entry into World War II. Despite their loyalty and distinguished service in our armed forces, Japanese Americans were considered suspect simply because of their ancestry.

Against this backdrop of racial discrimination, Harbor Beach native Frank Murphy, then a justice of the United States Supreme Court, spoke forcefully for the rights of all Americans by dissenting from a decision that upheld the exclusion from certain areas and forced internment of 112,000 persons of Japanese descent.

Fred Korematsu was a young Japanese American who was ordered by the military to leave his home and report to an internment camp. In 1944, a United States Supreme Court majority upheld his exclusion as a valid exercise of military authority.

In his dissent, Justice Murphy condemned the majority's decision and rejected its reasoning. Justice Murphy wrote that the decision was nothing more than the "legalization of racism" and concluded, "Racial discrimination in any form in any degree has no justifiable part whatever in our democratic way of life. It is unattractive in any setting, but it is utterly revolting among a free people who have embraced the principles set forth in the Constitution of the United States."

In a belated apology, the U.S. Congress in 1988 voted to compensate those still alive who had been forced into internment camps during World War II.

Harbor Beach native Judge James Lincoln, a friend and colleague, said of Frank Murphy's dissent, "In the worst of times, he did the best of things."

Placed by the State Bar of Michigan, Huron County Bar Association, and Asian American Bar Association, 1996.



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