Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia warned that modern day internment scenarios, similar to those of Japanese internment camps in the U.S. during WWII, could potentially happen again given the right political climate.

While at the University of Hawaii law school on Monday, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, in response to a question about the court’s 1944 decision in Korematsu v. United States which upheld convictions for violating an order to report to an internment camp for Gordon Hirabayashi and Fred Korematsu, said, “It was wrong, but I would not be surprised to see it happen again, in a time of war. It’s no justification but it is the reality.”

Justice Scalia went on to say, “Well of course Korematsu was wrong. And I think we have repudiated in a later case. But you are kidding yourself if you think the same will not happen again.” He went on to quote a Latin expression meaning, “In times of war, laws fall silent.”

These statements by Justice Scalia lend serious legitimacy to the fears that have been expressed by organizations such as People Against the NDAA (PANDA). Their opposition to sections 1021 and 1022 of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which authorize the indefinite detention of American citizens on U.S. soil without due process of law, now seems extremely prescient after Scalia’s recent remarks. These statements by Scalia hopefully assist in awakening the masses to the potential for abuse that resides within the NDAA.

The candid comments by Justice Scalia are a vivid reminder of the fragile nature of the fleeting freedoms we often hold as inalienable rights. A seeming warning from a Supreme Court Justice that the law alone isn’t protection enough and that the citizenry needs to remain ever vigilant.

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