The administrative order by the Supreme Court of California grants posthumous honorary membership to the State Bar of California to Sei Fujii, who immigrated to the United States in 1903 and passed away in 1954. Although Fujii earned a law degree from University of Southern California, Fujii could not obtain a bar membership as federal law at the time prohibited naturalization of Asians, and California law prohibited foreign-born people from practicing law--effectively prohibiting Asian Americans from practicing law.
Fujii went through the Internment during World War II. After the end of the war, Fujii partnered with a classmate from law school to litigate laws that discriminated against Asian Americans, such as the case that invalidated the laws prohibiting Asian immigrants from holding land. See Fujii v. California, 38 Cal.2d 718 (1952).
What a great gesture from the California Supreme Court to mark the Asian American Heritage Month! Japanese and Chinese Americans of the late 19th and early 20th centuries were the pioneers that shaped the U.S. immigration law and exposed the toxic xenophobia against recent immigrants--an issue that unfortunately remains just as relevant today.
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