Supreme Court Rules Illinois Inmate's Haste Voids His Lawsuit

In September 1985, as part of the three-judge panel of the appeals court, Judge Ginsburg asked: These people certainly knew back in the early '40s that they were injured. Can they make a claim in court? Wouldn't that depend on their ability to overcome a defense . . . a defense that the Supreme Court accepted? With that precedent, how could they ever survive? How could they overcome that defense? That was their problem. At what point in time would they have been able to overcome that defense?

Her questions were followed by a 2-to-1 reversal by this court that allowed the lawsuit to proceed. Though the lawsuit ultimately failed on its second attempt to reach the Supreme Court, it provided part of the pressure that enabled redress for Japanese-Americans to be enacted by Congress in August 1988. Though little noted, Ginsburg's questions and decision are significant in Japanese-American history and state her fitness to serve on the high court.

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