November 12, 2003 by

Arthur Barnett

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Categories: Law

Arthur G. Barnett, an attorney who spent nearly half a century fighting to win compensation for Japanese Americans who were interned during World War II, died on Oct. 23 from a stroke. He was 96.
Born in Scotland, Barnett moved to Seattle with his family when he was 12 years old. He earned a law degree from the University of Washington in 1932 then spent five years in the military where he became a Quaker and pacifist.
When UW student Gordon Hirabayashi defied the curfews placed on Japanese Americans during World War II, and refused to register for internment, Barnett represented him in court. Although Hirabayashi v. United States was upheld by the Supreme Court in 1943, the case was vacated 34 years later by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Barnett spent most of his life representing victims of the American camps, and lobbying Congress to approve compensation for their pain and suffering. In 1988, that compensation was granted. President Ronald Reagan signed a bill offering a formal apology and gave $20,000 payments to each of the 65,000 survivors.
For his efforts, Barnett received the William O. Douglas Award of the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, and the Washington State Trial Lawyers Association’s Courage Award. His papers about the Japanese American incarceration period reside at the University of Washington library.

One Response to Arthur Barnett

  1. MaryAnn Faubion Kohl

    Mr. Barnett’s daughter, Molly, is one of my dearest high school friends. I have fascinating their amazing gallery of Toby paintings. I’m pleased to read more about him and his work for compensation for our friends on Bainbridge Island, Washington and elsewhere.

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