From left: Gordon Hirabayashi, Min Yasui and Fred Korematsu.

BERKELEY — The Asian American Law Journal at Berkeley Law will present its annual Spring Symposium on Saturday, Jan. 28, from 12 to 3 p.m. to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the coram nobis case overturning Korematsu v. United States, in which the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the mass incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II.

The symposium will take place in UC Berkeley’s East Pauley Ballroom, 2495 Bancroft Way, Berkeley. Lunch will be included at 12 p.m. Coffee will be served throughout the event.

The Supreme Court ruled against three Nisei who challenged the constitutionality of the government’s actions, Fred Korematsu (1919-2005), Minoru Yasui (1916-1986) and Gordon Hirabayashi (1918-2012). In the 1980s, on the basis of newly discovered evidence, teams of mostly Japanese American lawyers reopened those cases and federal judges vacated the three men’s convictions. In two cases there was also a finding of governmental misconduct.

In honor of Fred Korematsu Day (Jan. 30), AALJ is hosting a panel of the original coram nobis attorneys, including keynote speaker Lorraine Bannai (Korematsu), professor emeritus, Seattle University School of Law; Dale Minami (Korematsu), founder and senior counsel, Minami Tamaki LLP; Peggy Nagae (Yasui), founder and principal, Peggy Nagae Consulting; and Rodney Kawakami (Hirabayashi), attorney at law.

Other panelists include Judge Mary M. Schroeder, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit; Dean Erwin Chemerinsky, UC Berkeley School of Law; Quyen Ta, partner, King & Spalding LLP; Eric Yamamoto, Korematsu Professor of Law and Social Justice, University of Hawaii; and closing speaker Karen Korematsu, founder and executive director, Fred T. Korematsu Institute.

The first panel will discuss the coram nobis cases, and the second panel will discuss their present-day relevance and political lawyering today. Topics will include the historical context of these cases, the fragility of modern civil rights, and the continued relevance of and parallels with Korematsu (i.e., Trump v. Hawaii).

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