Thursday, December 11, 2014

At the Movies: 14: Dred Scott, Wong Kim Ark & Vanessa Lopez

14 dred scott

A documentary film "14: Dred Scott, Wong Kim Ark & Vanessa Lopez" is finished and available for Educational Use and Public Performance Licensing. The 67-minute documentary is an excellent resource for Constitutional Law courses.

The film explores the recurring question about who has the right to be a U.S. citizen. It examines the citizenship clause of the 14th Amendment through compelling personal stories and expertly-told history. The 14th Amendment provides that “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”

The film tells the history of the 14th Amendment through the lives of three ordinary and extraordinary American families who changed history by their courageous challenges to the powerful status quo. Descendants of Dred and Harriet Scott and those of Wong Kim Ark tell the stories of how their ancestors fought all the way to the Supreme Court and changed American history. Rosario Lopez and her daughter Vanessa are both activists in the immigrant rights youth movement. Born in the United States and a citizen under the 14th Amendment, Vanessa wants to be “either an artist, a photographer, a lawyer, or a marine biologist” and President of the United States. It is the citizenship of millions of children like Vanessa Lopez, born in the United States to undocumented parents, that is at stake now.  

In United States v. Wong Kim Ark, 169 U.S. 649 (1898), the U.S. Supreme Court held, generally speaking, that a person -- even the child of undocumented immigrants -- born in the United States is a U.S. citizen under the 14th Amendment.  This decision established an important precedent in its interpretation of the Citizenship Clause of the 14th Amendment.


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