Bill Introduced to Rename Courthouse After Judge Who Upheld Civil Liberties During WWII

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WASHINGTON — Rep. Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) on Oct. 21 announced legislation to rename the federal courthouse in McKinleyville, Humboldt County (pictured), after the late Judge Louis E. Goodman, who served on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

Goodman was appointed by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1942, served as chief judge from 1958 until his death in 1961, and was the first federal judge to rule against the injustice of segregation and incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II.

“Judge Goodman had the integrity to defend the rights of all Americans from the bench at a time when few stood up to unconstitutional discrimination against Japanese Americans,” said Huffman. “He did not waver from his duty to uphold the civil rights and liberties enshrined in the Constitution, despite significant professional and personal risk to himself.

“Renaming this federal courthouse in his honor is a fitting tribute to his courageous work to defend the Constitution, and will ensure that future generations learn from his important legacy.”

“During World War II, there were few who stood up in opposition to the incarceration of the Japanese American community,” said David Inoue, executive director of the Japanese American Citizens League. “Our civil rights allies, politicians, and even the Supreme Court turned their backs on the constitution. Judge Goodman was one of the few who stood strong on two separate cases.”

This year marks three quarters of a century since Goodman handed down the first of only two rulings in federal court during World War II upholding the civil rights and civil liberties of Japanese Americans. He ruled in United States vs. Masaaki Kuwabara that those American citizens of Japanese ancestry who were incarcerated could not be compelled to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces nor be found guilty of resisting the draft at the same time they were being denied the rights of citizenry.

The historic ruling was one of many significant rulings that distinguished Goodman’s career. After this ruling, he would go on to play a major role in restoring the U.S. citizenship of thousands of Japanese Americans who had been pressed to renounce such citizenship while under duress and detained by armed guard.

This bill is co-sponsored by Reps. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland), Juan Vargas (D-Chula Vista), Anna Eshoo (D-Palo Alto), Eric Swalwell (D-Castro Valley), Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach), and Katie Porter (D-Irvine) and has been endorsed by the American Civil Liberties Union, the JACL, the Tule Lake Committee and the Humboldt Historical Society.

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