PRESS RELEASE | NEW YORK COUNTY LAWYERS ASSOCIATION HOSTS SECOND ANNUAL FRED KOREMATSU DAY CELEBRATION IN NEW YORK CITY, JOINED BY ASIAN AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION OF NEW YORK, NEW YORK DAY OF REMEMBRANCE COMMITTEE AND COMMUNITY GROUPS

NEW YORK, January 25, 2019 – New York City will celebrate its 2nd annual Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution on Wednesday, January 30, 2019, hosted by the New York County Lawyers Association (NYCLA) at 14 Vesey Street from 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm. This event marks Korematsu’s 100th birthday. The Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution is already officially recognized in four states and was first officially celebrated in New York City in 2018. Spearheaded by the Asian Practice Committee of NYCLA, the Asian American Bar Association of New York joins the New York Day of Remembrance Committee and numerous community groups to organize this historic event.

At the celebration, Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY) members will perform “Fred Korematsu and His Fight for Justice,” a reenactment of legal proceedings in Korematsu v. United States. Judge Denny Chin, United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, and Kathy Hirata Chin, Partner at Crowell & Moring, will narrate the reenactment.

“Why the Korematsu Case Still Matters Today,” a panel discussion, will follow the reenactment. The panelists are Prof. Rose Cuison Villazor of Rutgers Law School and Afaf Nasher, Executive Director for the New York Chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations, and Chris Kwok, AABANY Board Director and Issues Committee Chair, will be the moderator.

Fred T. Korematsu was a national civil rights hero. In 1942, at the age of 23, he refused to go to the government’s incarceration camps for Japanese Americans. After he was arrested and convicted of defying the government’s order, he appealed his case all the way to the Supreme Court. In 1944, the Supreme Court ruled against him, arguing that the incarceration was justified by military necessity.

In 1983, in light of new evidence of government misconduct, Korematsu’s 40-year-old case was reopened. On November 10, 1983, Korematsu’s conviction was overturned in a federal court in San Francisco. It was a pivotal moment in civil rights history.

Korematsu remained an activist throughout his life. In 1998, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, from President Bill Clinton.

“AABANY is proud to help celebrate Fred Korematsu’s 100th birthday, on the occasion of the second annual Korematsu Day in New York City,” states Yang Chen, AABANY’s Executive Director. “AABANY was among the groups in New York that testified before the New York City Council in 2017 in support of commemorating January 30th each year as the Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution in New York City. We were there last year for the inaugural celebration, and we are honored to be able to present one of our trial reenactments to recount the story of Fred Korematsu and his struggle for justice. The only way we can ensure that we as Americans never again repeat the gross injustice Japanese Americans suffered during World War II is to tell his story and share its many lessons with the general public.”

For more information, please contact Yang Chen, AABANY Executive Director, at (212) 332-2478, or main@aabany.org .

The Asian American Bar Association of New York is a professional membership organization of attorneys concerned with issues affecting the Asian Pacific American community. Incorporated in 1989, AABANY seeks not only to encourage the professional growth of its members but also to advocate for the Asian Pacific American community as a whole. AABANY is a New York regional affiliate of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA).

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NAPABA, APABA-SF, and GOAABA Celebrate the Repeal of the Alien Land Law from Florida’s Constitution

The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA), the Asian Pacific American Bar Association of South Florida (APABA-SF), and the Greater Orlando Asian American Bar Association (GOAABA) celebrate the repeal of the anti-immigrant “Alien Land Law” from Florida’s Constitution. On Election Day, Tuesday, November 6, 2018, Florida voters passed an amendment to repeal the Alien Land Law from their state Constitution. Florida added the provision to its Constitution in the 1920s, as part of an anti-Asian and anti-immigrant sentiment that legally prohibited aliens from holding real estate and real property in Florida.

“Thanks to the efforts of APABA-South Florida, GOAABA, and NAPABA, the discriminatory language of the Alien Land Law will be removed from Florida’s Constitution,” said NAPABA President Daniel Sakaguchi. “This amendment was long overdue. The Alien Land Law enshrined the second-class treatment of immigrants and Asian Pacific Americans under the law. We applaud Florida voters for repealing this vestige of discrimination and anti-immigrant sentiment from their state Constitution.”

“APABA of South Florida is proud that Florida’s voters took to the polls to repeal the Alien Land Law from the state Constitution,” said APABA-SF President Benjamin W. Dowers. “APABA of South Florida thanks NAPABA and GOAABA for working arm-in-arm in collaborating with the Florida Constitutional Revision Commission, educating voters through events and information, and reminding people that voting matters. We look forward to working with NAPABA and GOAABA to further social equality in Florida and all other states.”

STATEMENT OF THE ASIAN AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION OF NEW YORK REGARDING THE SUPREME COURT’S RECENT VOTING RIGHTS ACT DECISION

The Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY) urges the United States Congress to reinstate the enforcement provisions of the Voting Rights Act, Section 4, that were invalidated this past Tuesday, June 25, 2013 by the United States Supreme Court in Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder.

Shelby eliminates the preclearance requirement for certain states or areas in which discrimination had historically been found to exist.  Preclearance required covered states and jurisdictions to submit all changes affecting voting and elections for preapproval by the U.S. Department of Justice.  The decision in Shelby will likely lead to legal sanctioning of efforts to undermine voting rights.

This ruling hits home. Certain New York counties including New York, Kings and the Bronx were areas for which preclearance had been required, based on a prior history of voter discrimination. The Shelby ruling clears the way for the reinstatement of discriminatory practices, such as efforts to restrict access to voting sites or attempts to gerrymander voting districts to dilute the voting power of Asian Americans in New York’s Chinatown or African Americans in Harlem. The profound impact of such practices on the voting rights and electoral aspirations of the affected minority voters in those areas cannot be overstated.

The record the Supreme Court considered contains ample evidence that voting rights discrimination is alive and well in 2013 as it was in 1964.  Justice Ginsburg’s dissenting opinion chronicles that evidence. 

The unfettered right to vote is a precondition of representative democracy.  Retrenchment on that right undermines many other rights such as the right to free speech.  Until Shelby, the necessity of a strong Voting Rights Act was universally recognized. 

Congress must act and exercise its power to provide the checks and balances that our Constitution established when the Founders formed our union to ensure a balanced government.  Voting rights are under attack and we urge Congress and the Administration to take prompt action to defend this most fundamental civil right.

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AABANY was formed in 1989 as a not-for-profit corporation to represent the interests of New York Asian American attorneys, judges, law professors, legal professionals, paralegals and law students.  The mission of AABANY is to improve the study and practice of law, and the fair administration of justice for all by ensuring the meaningful participation of Asian Americans in the legal profession.

John Jay Iselin Memorial Lecture Series on The United States Constitution

Burt Neuborne, Inez Milholland Professor of Civil Liberties and founding legal director of the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law, will be delivering Cooper Union’s John Jay Iselin Memorial Lecture Series on The United States Constitution.

The lecture series begin on Thursday, October 4, and run every Thursday evening (except for November 22) from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., ending on December 13. The lecture series is supported in part by the New York State Archives Partnership Trust and will take place in Cooper Union’s historic Great Hall located at 7 East 7th Street, New York, New York.

The lecture series is free, but registration is required. If you would like to take this opportunity to register online, please visit http://cooperunion.eventbrite.com.

For more information on the lectures, please visit the Cooper Union website at http://cooper.edu.