In 1983, Fred Korematsu, Gordon Hirabayashi, and Minoru Yasui, who had challenged the constitutionality of the internment, reopened their landmark federal cases through writs of error coram nobis. Their wartime convictions for defying the internment policy were vacated, based on evidence that the government had misrepresented and suppressed evidence that racial prejudice, not military necessity, motivated the internment of Japanese Americans. Korematsu v. United States, 584 F. Supp. 1406 (N.D. Cal. 1984); Hirabayashi v. United States, 627 F. Supp. 1445 (W.D. Wash. 1986), affd in part and revd in part, 828 F.2d 591 (9th Cir. 1987); Yasui v. United States, 83151 BE (D. Or. 1984), remanded, 772 F.2d 1496 (9th Cir. 1985). None of the decisions was reversed on appeal. For an admirable review of the history of the internment policy, see Hohri v. United States, . . . 782 F.2d 227, 23139 (D.C. Cir. 1986) (Wright, J.), vacated, 482 U.S. 64 . . . (1987).
While there is no doubt that the sorry history of both private and public discrimination in this country has contributed to a lack of opportunities for black entrepreneurs, this observation, standing alone, cannot justify a rigid racial quota in the awarding of public contracts in Richmond . . . . [A]n amorphous claim that there has been past discrimination in a particular industry cannot justify the use of an unyielding racial quota.
Id. Left unclear in this enigmatic passage is whether the defect is a poor fit of remedy to objective (an unyielding racial quota) or whether it is the overly broad remedial purpose (an amorphous claim [of] past discrimination). Justice Scalia is more direct: The benign purpose of compensating for social disadvantages, whether they have been acquired by reason of prior discrimination or otherwise, can [not] be pursued by the illegitimate means of racial discrimination . . . . Id. at 520 (Scalia, J., concurring).