Concurring opinion, Barber v. Barber, 323 U.S. 77 (Dec. 4, 1944)

Decision Date: December 4, 1944

Court ruled that money judgment of a court of North Carolina for arrears of alimony, was not subject to modification under the Federal Constitution and the Act of May 26, 1790, as amended, but entitled to full faith and credit. 

Opinion of the Court, Armour & Co. v. Wantock, 323 U.S. 126 (Dec. 4, 1944)

Decision Date: December 4, 1944

Petitioner manufacturer of goods for interstate commerce held liable to fireguard employees for overtime, liquidated damages. Justice Jackson delivered the opinion holding that the Labor Standards Act does not exclude, as working time, periods contracted for and spent on duty merely because the nature of the duty left idle time on the employees' hands and because the employer and employee cooperated in trying to make the confinement and idleness incident to it more tolerable. Certainly they were competent to agree, expressly or by implication, that an employee could resort to amusements provided by the employer without a violation of his agreement or a departure from his duty. Both courts below having concurred in finding that, under the circumstances and the arrangements between the parties, the time so spent was working time.


Opinion of the Court, Skidmore v. Swift & Co., 323 U.S. 134 (Dec. 4, 1944)

Decision Date: December 4, 1944

Seven employees of the Swift and Company packing plant at Fort Worth, Texas, brought an action under the Fair Labor Standards Act to recover overtime, liquidated damages, and attorneys' fees totalling approximately $77,000. For reasons set forth in the Armour case, Justice Jackson decided "that no principle of law found either in the statute or in Court decisions precludes waiting time from also being working time. We have not attempted to, and we cannot, lay down a legal formula to resolve cases so varied in their facts as are the many situations in which employment involves waiting time. Whether, in a concrete case, such time falls within or without the Act is a question of fact to be resolved by appropriate findings of the trial court."

Dissenting opinion, Korematsu v. United States, 323 U.S. 214 (Dec. 18, 1944)

Decision Date: December 18, 1944

Background: Fred Korematsu was born in Oakland, California in 1919 to Japanese immigrants. In 1942, President Roosevelt issued Executive Order No. 9066, following the attack on Pearl Harbor.  This combined with other congressional statutes gave the military broad power to ban any Japanese American citizen from the coastal areas between Washington and California.  They also authorized the transport of citizens to inland assembly centers.  Fred Korematsu, at 23 years of age, failed to report to an assembly center and instead chose to remain in the San Leandro coastal area.  He was arrested and convicted of violating Civilian Exclusion Order No. 34.

Supreme Court: The Court upheld Korematsu’s conviction in a 6-3 decision. The majority held that the need in wartime to protect against espionage outweighed Korematsu’s individual rights.  Although they noted that this exclusion of citizens from set areas was constitutionally suspect it was justified because of the wartime circumstances.  Jackson was one of the 3 dissenters.  His complex opinion pointed out that the military order was racist; an attempt to hold a person guilty for the crime of being born of Japanese ancestry.  It also contained two other points.  First, that civilian courts in times of war should not review the constitutionality of military actions because a civilian judge in wartime would defer to military judgment and never term what was said to be militarily necessary as unconstitutional.  Further, Jackson believed that even if such racially discriminatory orders were able to be considered reasonable under military terms, the civilian courts could not constitutionally assist the military in enforcing them and should leave it up to the military to act on them alone.

Legacy: Fred Korematsu’s conviction was overturned in November of 1983 when government documents were found that indicated the government failed to provide the Supreme Court with information they had that Japanese American citizens were not in fact a national security threat. His case became a symbol for the civil rights struggle in America and has particularly been highlighted following the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the civil liberties infringements that took place against people of Middle Eastern descent.