Continuing its effort to right old wrongs, the Supreme Court today grants posthumous honorary membership in the California bar to Sei Fujii, who earned a law degree from USC in 1911, eight years after immigrating from Japan, but who apparently never took the bar exam or applied for bar admission.  The court notes that seeking bar admission at the time “would have been futile” because of anti-Asian federal immigration laws and the court’s own 1890 decision barring Hong Yen Chang — a Chinese immigrant — from practice.  Two years ago, the court renounced its 1890 opinion and posthumously granted Chang his law license.  Now, the court says barring Fujii from law practice “was an injustice that we repudiate today.”

The court’s order recounts the “extraordinary efforts” Fujii took “to apply his education and talents to advancing the rule of law in California,” despite the lack of a law license.  This included a decades-long, and ultimately successful, fight against what the court today calls the “xenophobic” Alien Land Law of 1913.  Fujii was also among the many thousand people of Japanese ancestry whom the government herded into internment camps at the beginning of America’s involvement in World War II.  After federal law changed, he finally became a U.S. citizen in 1954, less than two months before his death.  The court says that “Fujii’s work in the face of prejudice and oppression embodies the highest traditions of those who work to make our society more just.”

The court’s action comes on the motion of the Little Tokyo Historical Society and the Japanese American Bar Association, a motion that was supported by 72 organizations and individuals.