The surprise bombing of the American naval harbor of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 by the Japanese navy had many consequences, including its role in precipitating the United States' entrance into World War II. However, in legal circles, the most important results of the attack on Pearl Harbor were the justifications that the event provided for forcing Japanese and Japanese-American citizens living in the United States to be confined to so-called "relocation camps" for the duration of the war.
The results of the attack on Pearl Harbor and its impact on Japanese-American citizens began when president Franklin Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 in February of 1942. This order directed the Secretary of War to declare certain areas of the country to be off limits to people of any or all ethnicities for the purposes of greater national security, specifically from preventing spies to conduct espionage. Subsequently, areas with large Japanese and Korean populations were declared to be such "military zones," requiring that these citizens be transferred to "relocation camps" for the remainder of the war. One of the results of the attack on Pearl Harbor was therefore the confinement of roughly 110,000 people for the duration of the war.
One of the results of the attack on Pearl Harbor was the Supreme Court case of Korematsu v. United States, which was heard in 1944. The subject of the case was the refusal of a Japanese-American citizen, Fred Korematsu, to leave his California residence and enter a relocation camp. In his lawsuit, Fred Korematsu charged that Executive Order 9066 was unconstitutional. The government argued that the order was constitutional because the importance of preventing espionage.
In a majority opinion in favor of the government, the Supreme Court concurred that the importance of protecting America from foreign invasion and attack was greater than the importance of respecting Fred Korematsu's constitutional rights. It therefore found that the creation of military zones was constitutionally valid.
One of the results of the attack on Pearl Harbor was that these relocation camps were maintained until January 1945, when their residents were permitted to return to their homes. In 1976, president Gerald Ford issued Proclamation 4417, which officially put an end to Executive Order 9066. Another of the results of the attack on Pearl Harbor occurred in 1980, when president Jimmy Carter ordered a study of the effects of these relocation camps. When completed two years earlier, the study concluded that the relocation camps were unjustifiable and that survivors were entitled to $20,000 apiece as compensation. These payments finally began to be issued in 1990 but were only issued to Japanese-American citizens.
The case of Korematsu v. United States was never officially overturned by another Supreme Court ruling. However, Fred Korematsu was successfully in obtaining an overturning of his conviction during the 1980s. The results of the attack on Pearl Harbor have not extended to attempts to establish new relocation camps during a state of war.