As hearings resumed in the U.S. Supreme Court this month, echos from the court played on a 'More Perfect' podcast.
The show, entering its second season, tells the backstories of famous and lesser-known Supreme Court cases. This season opened with an episode about Korematsu v. United States.
It's the 1944 decision that validated the U.S. government's internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. It has been called one of the High Court's worst decisions, but suddenly is relevant again -- and not because it's on a podcast.
In the campaign for the White House last year, a Trump supporter famously said Korematsu was precedent for a Muslim registry. No serious judge or lawyer would cite the case, but it reveals a shameful truth: it is bad law and bigotry is not dead.
"More Perfect" exposes that story. The show tells it from the perspective of Japanese-Americans who lived it and their descendants who hardly know about it.
In a "Radiolab" style, the broadcast adds music and recordings from Supreme Court arguments. It's a mix of re-creation and reality that the New Yorker calls a "perfect emotional and historical pitch."
"'More Perfect'" provides valuable historical perspective on American politics, justice, and governance at a time when we urgently need it," writes Sarah Larson.
The U.S. Supreme Court has not specifically overturned Koretmatsu, but the podcast makes history accountable. It's cultural impact is hard to measure.
However, the California Supreme Court recently reached back to right a wrong against a Japanese-American who lived during the era. The court posthumously granted Sei Fujii a law license, acknowledging that immigration laws unlawfully prevented him from becoming a lawyer.
Fujii, who received his law degree in 1911, became a newspaper publisher and civil rights activist instead. His major contribution came when he successfully challenged the Alien Land Law, which authorized the government to take away the internees' land.