The statute upon which the jurisdiction of the district court in habeas corpus proceedings rests, 28 U.S.C.S. § 452, gives it power to grant writs of habeas corpus for the purpose of an inquiry into the cause of restraint of liberty. That objective may be in no way impaired or defeated by the removal of the prisoner from the territorial jurisdiction of the district court. That end may be served and the decree of the court made effective if a respondent who has custody of the prisoner is within reach of the court's process even though the prisoner has been removed from the district since the suit was begun.
An American citizen of Japanese ancestry was evacuated from her home pursuant to Exec. Order No. 9066, addressing the need for containment of potential threats to national security during war-time. She filed a petition for habeas corpus asking that she be discharged and restored to liberty, which was denied by the court. The case was appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States.
Should the writ of habeas corpus be granted?
The Supreme Court held that that whatever power the War Relocation Authority may have had to detain classes of citizens, pursuant to Exec. Order No. 9066, it had no authority to subject citizens who were concededly loyal to its leave procedure. The Court further held that when the power to detain was derived from the power to protect the war effort against espionage and sabotage, detention which had no relationship to that objective was unauthorized. Accordingly, as appellant was conceded to be loyal, her release from detention was required. The Court concluded that that the lower court retained jurisdiction over the matter even though appellant had been removed to another location, as respondent who had custody of appellant was still within reach of the court's process.