Honorary admission granted for Japanese-American trailblazer Thursday, June 15, 2017 Categories: Top Headlines The California Supreme Court in May granted honorary posthumous admission to the State Bar for Sei Fujii, a Japanese-American who earned a law degree from USC School of Law but was barred from becoming a lawyer due to discriminatory exclusion laws that have since been overturned. "Though Fujii both graduated from law school and made his career in California, throughout his entire professional life he was barred from obtaining a license to practice law in the state. This was an injustice that we repudiate today by granting Fujii honorary posthumous membership in the State Bar of California," the Supreme Court order said. The order came two years after the California Supreme Court granted posthumous State Bar admission to Hong Yen Chang, who was denied a law license 125 years ago due to federal and state laws denying citizenship and employment to Chinese Americans. Shortly before Fujii died in 1952, federal law was changed and he became a citizen. Despite being unfairly sidelined from the legal profession, Fujii went on to make an impact by challenging the Alien Land Law of 1913, which barred immigrants such as him from owning land. Fujii was well known as the litigant whose case invalidated the Alien Land Law decades later. See Sei Fujii v. State of California (1952) 38 Cal.2d 718, 725, 738. He also contributed to other legal cases asserting the rights of Japanese immigrants and was among the more than 100,000 people who were sent to internment camps solely because of their national origin in 1942 after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. "We do not know what more Fujii might have accomplished had he been admitted to the bar, or what others in Fujii's position might have accomplished had our laws not wrongfully excluded or deterred them from becoming lawyers," the Supreme Court wrote. "Fujii's work in the face of prejudice and oppression embodies the highest traditions of those who work to make our society more just."