Random Thoughts

What if Newt's buying of jewelry from Tiffany's was not an extravagance, but rather a hedge against inflation he may fear is coming.  Diamonds are viewed by some as a good hedge against inflation.  And they are pretty to look at. 

Why do courts exist

An American Hero died and reminds us of his heroic actions and those of others.

Excerpted from the Washington Post, http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-legacy-of-gordon-hirabayashis-fight-against-internment/2012/01/04/gIQASV6cfP_story.html

Seventy years ago, a young University of Washington senior refused to report to an Army internment camp. Gordon Hirabayashi, like more than 100,000 other Americans of Japanese descent, had been ordered to be interned based on nothing more than the country where his parents were born. Instead of reporting to the Army, he turned himself in to the FBI, and in so doing, changed history. Hirabayashi died this past week, but he leaves a legacy that still resonates whenever individual citizens force the government to live up to its highest and best ideals.

After the Pearl Harbor bombing on Dec. 7, 1941, Army Lt. Gen. John DeWitt deemed the Pacific Coast vulnerable to attack, leading the government to prohibit people of Japanese ancestry (including U.S. citizens, such as Hirabayashi) from being anywhere near the coastline. Hirabayashi refused to evacuate. He was born in Seattle and grew up 20 miles south of the city, in a suburb where his father ran a fruit stand. But instead of fleeing to Canada or moving inland, he openly defied the order. He wanted to challenge the system from within.

When his case arrived at the high court’s doors, the justices refused to help. His conviction was left intact in 1943 by a unanimous Supreme Court. Part of the blame may rest with the justices, but part must rest with the United States government, and with the way its lawyer, the solicitor general, conducted the case.

The government argued that internment was justified by military necessity. The nation was at war, and it needed to keep Japanese Americans away from the coasts, to prevent espionage and for the safety of the country. In making its successful case, however, the government chose not to share with the court a key report that flatly contradicted this argument.

That January 1942 report, written by naval intelligence, concluded that only a small percentage of Japanese Americans posed a potential threat and that the most dangerous were already in custody or already known. The report concluded that “the entire ‘Japanese Problem’ has been magnified out of its true proportion, largely because of the physical characteristics of the people” and that “it should be handled on the basis of the individual, regardless of citizenship, and not on a racial basis.”

There was no excuse for not telling the Supreme Court about this devastating report. Hirabayashi was one man, and even with lawyers to help him, he could never have had access to all the facts. Neither could the justices. That is why, in cases involving the military, the court is particularly reliant on the government’s lawyers to provide it with all the necessary information.

Indeed, that is precisely how less- senior government lawyers saw it at the time. One Justice Department lawyer, Edward Ennis, [who died in 1990] told Solicitor General Charles Fahy: “I think we should consider very carefully whether we do not have a duty to advise the Court of the existence of the Ringle memorandum and of the fact that this represents the view of the Office of Naval Intelligence. It occurs to me that any other course of conduct might approximate the suppression of evidence.”

Fahy refused. Instead, he told the court that the detention of all Japanese Americans was necessary. The court agreed — and in the end, it is not hard to see why. The nine justices were not experts in military necessity, and when the solicitor general says something is necessary for the war effort, it is very difficult to disagree.

Challenging the government in a time of war is a terrifying thing. When I [Neal Katyal] did it a few years ago on behalf of Guantanamo detainees, I took comfort from Gordon’s actions. It isn’t easy to be attacked as disloyal, but his life gave me strength. And I was proud to see that the government did not stoop to the level it did in World War II. Instead, it tried to win its case on the merits, with candor to the court.