Honda v. Clark

LOCATION: Bellmawr, New Jersey Police Department

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1965-1967)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

CITATION: 386 US 484 (1967)
ARGUED: Feb 14, 1967
DECIDED: Apr 10, 1967

Facts of the case


Media for Honda v. Clark

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - February 14, 1967 in Honda v. Clark

Earl Warren:

Number 164, Ayako Honda et al., Petitioner, versus Nicholas deB. Katzenbach, Attorney General of the United States.

Mr. Rauh.

Joseph L.rauh, Jr.:

May it please the Court.

Petitioners are 4100 Japanese-American death claimants under the Trading with the Enemy Act who held Yen deposit certificates in the California branch of the Yokohama Specie Bank on the December 7, 1941.

On December 7th, after the Japanese attacked, the Government seized and ultimately liquidated all the assets of that bank in this country and there is about $10 million there as a result of the seizure and liquidation.

During the war, the class of people who are the claimants here were relocated out of this western states and that history needs no repetition here.

After the war, following this Court's decision in Markham v. Cabell, the statute was amended to permit debt claimants to sue under the Trading with the Enemy Act against the assets which have been seized and liquidated and were there.

Two years following 1946, 7500 claimants were filed by the deposit holders in the California branch of the Yokohama Specie Bank.

So by 1948 or 1949, the Government was ready to act.

For the next decade, just elapsed while the Government was trying to figure out whether what rate to pay.

Potter Stewart:

May I ask you Mr. Rauh, because it's not clear to me.

What were the certificates of deposit -- what rights to the certificates of deposit give to the certificate holder that putting to one side, the very big event of World War II, what would've -- what rights do they have?

Joseph L.rauh, Jr.:

They were non-negotiable certificates of deposit redeemable either here or in -- either in a California Bank or in Japan.

Potter Stewart:

Here in dollars --

Joseph L.rauh, Jr.:


Potter Stewart:

-- or in (Voice Overlap) --

Joseph L.rauh, Jr.:

Well, it -- that's one of the arguments Your Honor.

But I'll come -- that's -- the Government says, no.

But the Government paid as though the answer was yes; that's exactly the point.

Potter Stewart:

But I just --

Joseph L.rauh, Jr.:

You see, during this ten-year period, they litigated that issue.

The trial examiner said, in the Justice Department, this obligation was payable in dollars in California, therefore I say, it should be payable in the same rate as before so you get the same dollars back --

Potter Stewart:

That you put in.

Joseph L.rauh, Jr.:

-- that you put in.

The Government overruled its own trial examiner and said, no, we'll pay you the post war rate.

We'll pay you only one-ninetieth, because it came to one-ninetieth, of the prewar rate.

And the Government said, no, that's all we will pay you.

Potter Stewart:

The theory being that the --

Joseph L.rauh, Jr.:

That they were payable only in (Voice Overlap) --

Potter Stewart:

-- that only in Yen, only in Yen.