Since 2018, January 30 has been celebrated in New York City as Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution. Why do we commemorate Fred Korematsu and his fight for justice? Here is the answer from the Fred Korematsu Institute:
Fred Korematsu was an American civil rights activist who stood up to the U.S. government’s wrongful incarceration of over 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry living on the West Coast during WWII. Even though Fred was vilified and ostracized by his Japanese American community and had no support from his family, he was not afraid to speak up. He knew the government had violated the civil rights of thousands of its citizens and immigrants when it forced them to leave their homes and live in remote incarceration camps.
The Fred T. Korematsu Institute is hosting a celebration honoring the 40th anniversary of the coram nobis cases on Saturday, October 21, 2023, at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in San Francisco. Our Democracy: Then and Now, is an in-person dinner commemorating a momentous decision in civil rights history.
The dinner will welcome members of the 1983 coram nobis teams, as well as former Acting Solicitor General of the United States and MSNBC TV contributor, Neal Katyal, who will be the keynote speaker and recipient of the Fred Korematsu Social Justice Award. Local KTVU reporter and journalist Jana Katsuyama will host the celebration.
NAPABA is proud to be a Korematsu Champion Sponsor of the event and host of the VIP Reception.
Our Democracy: Then and Now The 40th Anniversary of the Coram Nobis Cases October 21, 2023
WASHINGTON – The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) and the Fred T. Korematsu Institute, a 501(c)(3) national civil rights education organization based in San Francisco, announced a historic, groundbreaking affiliation formalizing their organizations’ longstanding relationship based on a shared interest in promoting civic participation, racial equity, and civil rights. The affiliation will strengthen the missions of both institutions by increasing resources and understanding and combating anti-Asian discrimination and bias through education and advocacy.
The Korematsu Institute was founded on the legacy of Fred Korematsu, a Japanese American who, in 1942, refused to comply with the World War II Executive Order to forcibly remove and incarcerate American Citizens of Japanese descent in prison camps. After he was arrested and convicted of defying the government’s order, he appealed his case to the United States Supreme Court. In an infamous decision that joins the ranks of Dred Scott v. Sandford and Plessy v. Ferguson, the Supreme Court ruled against him, holding that the incarceration was justified due to military necessity. After discovering that the government had withheld evidence and that the Solicitor General lied to the Court, Korematsu’s conviction was overturned in 1983 through a writ of Coram Nobis. In 1998, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, our nation’s highest civilian honor, for his steadfast advocacy.
“My father’s decades-long fight against injustice in the face of discrimination was not only a legal and constitutional achievement, but a story of individual humanity that resonates with so many in this country,” said Dr. Karen Korematsu, Founder and President of the Korematsu Institute. “While law schools teach my father’s case to dissect legal principles, we cannot forget what he and so many other incarcerated Japanese Americans experienced on a human level during that dark period in our nation’s history.”
Founded in 1989, NAPABA is the nation’s largest Asian Pacific American membership organization representing the interests of 60,000 attorneys, judges, law professors, and law students. NAPABA is a leader in addressing civil rights issues confronting Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities. Without question, its values align with the spirit of Fred Korematsu’s advocacy and the Institute’s commitment to equality.
“Fred Korematsu’s case, and that of fellow Japanese American detainees such as Minoru Yasui, Gordon Hirabayashi and those of Fred Oyama and Sei Fujii, who challenged alien land laws after their properties were illegally seized, are not just historical precedents — they are the legal framework we use to fight discrimination against Asian Americans, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islanders,” said Sandra Leung, President of NAPABA. “It is important for all Americans to understand the leading role that Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders have played in shaping the civil rights jurisprudence of this nation.”
“Fred Korematsu’s journey, now more than ever, is a seminal, timeless story — especially at a time in our nation and in the world marked by growing ignorance and intolerance, fueled by advances in technology and the swiftness of disinformation,” said Peggy Saika, Board Chair of the Korematsu Institute. “We are confident that between the Institute’s long-standing care of his legacy and NAPABA’s reach in the legal community, we will safeguard the opportunity to continue learning the lessons of Fred Korematsu’s strength for generations to come.”
“This affiliation will amplify the impact of both NAPABA and the Korematsu Institute,” said Priya Purandare, Executive Director of NAPABA and the Korematsu Institute. “With the Institute’s expertise and K-12 educational and public resources, we can collectively bring the stories of Fred Korematsu and other AANHPI civil rights legal icons to inspire future generations of Americans.”
The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) represents the interests of over 60,000 Asian Pacific American (APA) legal professionals and nearly 90 national, state, and local APA bar associations. NAPABA is a leader in addressing civil rights issues confronting Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities. Through its national network, NAPABA provides a strong voice for increased diversity of the federal and state judiciaries, advocates for equal opportunity in the workplace, works to eliminate hate crimes and anti-immigrant sentiment, and promotes the professional development of people of all backgrounds in the legal profession.
The Fred T. Korematsu Institute, named after Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient Fred Korematsu, is a national education advocacy organization committed to promoting civic participation and education to advance racial equity, social justice, and human rights for all. Through its educational programs, media and exhibits, and speaking engagements, the Korematsu Institute inspires people and organizations to, as Fred said, “stand up for what is right.”
The Asian American Law Journal at Berkeley Law is now accepting submissions for its 2023-2024 volume!
The Asian American Law Journal at Berkeley Law invites AABANY members to submit an article, essay, book review, transcript of a previous lecture, or other contribution on civil rights, immigrant rights, or any other area of their interest relating to Asian Americans and the law.
What is the Asian American Law Journal (AALJ)? AALJ is one of only two law journals in the United States focused on Asian American communities. Since 1993, we have provided a scholarly forum for the exploration of unique legal concerns of Asian Americans, including but not limited to the East Asian, South Asian, Southeast Asian, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities. Each annual volume typically contains articles, book reviews, essays, and other contributions from scholars, practitioners, and students.
Is there a deadline? Yes, all submissions are due on Monday, August 21th, 2023, though we make publication offers on a rolling basis. Please send your submissions via email to [email protected] or through Scholastica.
What does the publication process look like? Over the course of the 2023-2024 academic year, our journal team will work with you to provide substantive feedback, in addition to cite-checking and formatting your article.
What if I have more questions? Please send us an email! We would love to connect.
I don’t have anything to submit, but I know someone who might. What can I do? For those in the position to do so, we would appreciate you forwarding this note to your departments, teams, and friends or colleagues who may be interested in publishing with AALJ.
Thank you for your time, and we look forward to working with you!
Natasha Suterwala and Eva Gu Submissions Editors Asian American Law Journal University of California, Berkeley, School of Law
The AABANY Student Outreach Committee (SOC) hosted a thought-provoking panel discussion on April 13th, 2023 over Zoom, featuring renowned legal scholars Professor Thomas Healy and Professor Jin Hee Lee. The event was moderated by Jinny (Ji Yoon) Lim, a 2L at Seton Hall University School of Law.
Professor Healy, an acclaimed author and expert in constitutional law, legal history, civil rights, freedom of speech, and federal courts, shared his insights on the history of affirmative action and landmark Supreme Court cases, such as Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, Grutter v. Bollinger, Gratz v. Bollinger, and Fisher v. University of Texas.
Professor Jin Hee Lee, the Director of Strategic Initiatives at the Legal Defense Fund, provided valuable insights into the legal arguments presented by both SFFA and Harvard/UNC. She also addressed the controversies surrounding the two cases and offered her perspective on the personal rating (PR) scores used by Harvard and the potential consequences of outlawing race-conscious admissions policies.
The panel discussion was a captivating and thought-provoking event, shedding light on vital issues regarding civil rights and constitutional law, which are especially relevant and timely today.
Thanks to the SOC for organizing this topical program and to the speakers for their participation. To learn more about the SOC, click here.
WASHINGTON – Last week, NAPABA submitted written testimony for inclusion in the record before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (USCCR) in response to its briefing and inquiry on the Federal Government’s Response to Anti-Asian Racism in the United States. As a bar association, NAPABA recognizes that serving the immediate legal needs of hate crimes and hate incident victims addresses only one critical aspect of the problem and that our community cannot prosecute or litigate our way out of this latest wave of anti-Asian hate.
NAPABA’s testimony advocates for a multi-modal response, and has called for legislation to: 1) strengthen law enforcement’s ability to identify, document, and respond to hate crimes, including by fully implementing provisions of the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act; 2) address the mental health crisis that has accompanied the surge in anti-Asian hate with culturally and linguistically appropriate resources; and 3) increase educational resources to combat harmful stereotypes in order to address root causes of anti-Asian sentiment.
Over three decades ago, in a report entitled, “Civil Rights Issues Facing Asian Americans in the 1990s,” the USCCR identified a range of contributory factors underlying anti-Asian bias, including: 1) the model minority myth that Asian Americans are successful and do not suffer the discrimination or disadvantages associated with other minority groups; 2) perpetual foreigner syndrome where Asian Americans—even those born and raised in the United States are viewed as non-Americans and foreign; 3) stereotyping Asian Americans as meek and lacking in communications skills; and 4) limited English proficiency (LEP) within the Asian American population. More than 30 years later, these factors continue to persist and several have been cited by NAPABA in its groundbreaking Portrait Project reports as leading barriers to advancement by APA attorneys in the legal profession.
Given how little has changed just in the past 30 years, it is clear that for generations of AAPIs, these barriers are engrained and systemic and only a holistic, multi-pronged approach that includes raising visibility and belonging through education, providing culturally appropriate mental health resources, and increasing language access, in addition to supporting law enforcement, can address anti-Asian sentiment.
WASHINGTON – The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) has named Rahat N. Babar as its new Deputy Executive Director for Policy. In this role, Rahat will lead strategies and programs that will advance NAPABA’s advocacy, civil rights, and policy priorities.
Rahat brings to the position a long-standing commitment to NAPABA and the Asian American and Native Hawaiian & Pacific Islander community, and nearly two decades of high-profile public service. Rahat is a former member of NAPABA’s Board of Governors and a former chair of NAPABA’s Civil Rights Committee. He previously served as President of the Asian Pacific American Bar Association of Pennsylvania and served on the Board of Directors of the Asian Pacific American Lawyers Association of New Jersey. NAPABA recognized Rahat as one of NAPABA’s Best Under 40 in 2018.
Currently, Rahat serves as a Judge on the Superior Court of New Jersey, the first Bangladeshi American to be a member of the court. Immediately prior to his appointment, Rahat was Special Counsel to Governor Philip D. Murphy, overseeing all high-profile litigation impacting the Governor and the Administration. Previously, he was the Director of Community Engagement at the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office, where as part of Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal’s Executive Leadership Team, he led the Attorney General’s efforts to strengthen the office’s relationships with community leaders, faith leaders, and the public. Rahat held several other leadership roles within the Attorney General’s Office, practiced in a boutique corporate law firm, and taught law and public policy at Temple University Beasley School of Law as an Adjunct Professor.
“We are so fortunate to have such a legal luminary and NAPABA stalwart lead our policy efforts,” said Priya Purandare, Executive Director of NAPABA. “Rahat is a proven bar leader and policy expert who is uniquely situated to help ensure that our national advocacy vision and civil rights priorities can be carried out across the country by harnessing the passion and collaboration of our members and affiliate bar organizations.”
Rahat will begin his new role with NAPABA in May 2023.
WASHINGTON – The Tennessee Asian Pacific American Bar Association (TAPABA) and the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) jointly express grave concern for the abrogation of the rule of law and democracy in the wake of the unprecedented expulsion of two legislators, Justin Jones and Justin Pearson, from the Tennessee House of Representatives and the attempted expulsion of a third. As non-partisan bar associations, we are dedicated to ensuring representation of Asian Pacific Americans and other marginalized communities in the legal profession—including in the judiciary, legislature, and public sphere—and advancing the civil rights of our members and the communities they serve.
When duly elected representatives are dispossessed of their legislative seats, seemingly without adequate due process, their constituents are disenfranchised, and democracy suffers as a result. Expulsions should be rare, and consistent with longstanding precedent, should only follow criminal conviction or after thorough investigation by committee. We note that in the last 157 years, only two representatives have been expelled after allegations of criminal conduct and internal inquiries. The blatant, disparate treatment, even among the three legislators targeted for ouster, and the lack of due process cannot be ignored. TAPABA and NAPABA call on the Tennessee General Assembly to ensure that thorough, careful, and considered due process is always followed in such matters, and that leaders of the House and Senate be mindful that it is not individual legislators, but Tennessee’s districts, and more importantly, their constituents, who are most harmed when deprived of their representation. Tennesseans deserve better.
The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA), represents the interests of over 60,000 Asian Pacific American (APA) legal professionals and nearly 90 national, state, and local APA bar associations. NAPABA is a leader in addressing civil rights issues confronting APA communities. Through its national network, NAPABA provides a strong voice for increased diversity of the federal and state judiciaries, advocates for equal opportunity in the workplace, works to eliminate hate crimes and anti-immigrant sentiment, and promotes the professional development of people of all backgrounds in the legal profession.
The Tennessee Asian Pacific American Bar Association (TAPABA) was created on May 1, 2007, as a state-wide, non-profit association of Asian Pacific American attorneys, judges, law professors, law students and those interested in Asian American legal issues. TAPABA is an affiliate of NAPABA.
NAPABA is proud to have been an organizational partner for the Unity March this past Saturday [June 25], the first large mobilization of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) on the National Mall that brought people of all backgrounds together who care about advancing socioeconomic and cultural equity, racial justice, and solidarity. Executive Director Priya Purandare was quoted in the Washingtonian for this historic event. We thank our members who attended and volunteered in the summer heat. Your presence contributed to a larger movement, and we are grateful for all you do! If you missed the event or any remarks, a full livestream of the Unity March is available for viewing here.
Community Service Corps | #NAPABAinAction
The mobilization came at the 40th anniversary of Vincent Chin’s murder, a critical turning point for the AAPI community. Chin’s murder, and the fact that his killers faced no jail time, highlighted the lack of a strong national voice for AAPIs within this country’s legal system. The case galvanized the community to action and this led to NAPABA’S founding in 1988 to give voice to values of justice, equity, and opportunity for AAPIs. Since that time, NAPABA has been strongly committed to civil rights advocacy.
We now stand at another turning point in history with the current rise in hate crimes targeting diverse communities. To take action and harness the power of our membership, we launched the NAPABA Community Service Corps to provide opportunities for NAPABA members to act for impact at the local and national levels. NAPABA Community Service Corps opportunities include hate crimes assistance and election protection efforts to fill the needs of the community.
NAPABA needs your help to form a national infrastructure of members committed to strengthening our communities. Will you join #NAPABAinAction? Learn more here and sign up on the Volunteer Now tab!
On June 23, 2022, at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, the League of United Latin American Citizens of New York (LULAC NY) honored AABANY for its work in fighting Anti-Asian violence.
For 93 years, LULAC has been fighting for the civil rights of the Latin American community. The Director of LULAC NY, Aureo Ivan Cardona, spoke on the importance of teaming up with other organizations to fight injustice and hate, because any group could be the next victim or scapegoat.
LULAC presented President William Ng with a beautiful wood-carved plaque that says “Stop the Hate… Tolerate.” Joining Will at the reception were Beatrice Leong, Co-VP of Programs and Operations, Shirley Bi, Secretary, and Will Hao, Board Director.
AABANY thanks LULAC NY for bestowing this honor and recognizing AABANY’s anti-Asian violence work.