Yick Wo and the Equal Protection Clause

From Leonore Annenberg Institute for Civics 

This 20-minute video and related 
“Equal Justice Under Law” lesson plan can be to help teach high school students about the case Yick Wo v. Hopkins (1886) in which the Supreme Court held that non-citizens have due process rights under the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause. 

How do you use it?

This video (and a related Equal Justice Under Law lesson plan and Immigration timeline ) are engaging ways for judges to teach a high school audience about the principle of "Equal Protection" — especially a diverse audience of students.  Yick Wo could be could be paired with a judge's own presentation of the 14th amendment and equal protection.  Alternatively, it could be used as the introductory assignment in advance of a judge's presentation at a school or at the courthouse, or, following a presentation, to reinforce information presented. 

The “Yick Wo” video has several engaging elements: a compelling personal story, an interesting examination of court procedures and sufficient historical context.  It is, however, very detailed, and an alternative way to present similar material would be to use the Annenberg Lesson guide and Quiz (on the same site) that accompanies an alternative 42-minute video  in which Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg more generally discusses the importance of the 14th Amendment’s three tenets: due process, equal protection and privileges and immunities.

The Annenberg Classroom website is a multimedia environment that gathers together videos, lesson plans, current news and interactive games.  As the site says:  "This website connects our award-winning, comprehensive curriculum on the Constitution and its amendments to daily civics news and student discussion. And when we say 'connects,' we really mean it. Twice daily, our nonpartisan writers sift through national and local news and select current events expressly for social studies classrooms. And twice weekly, they write an article on a portion of this news with links to our multimedia curriculum. You can use these articles—we call them 'Speak Outs'—in your class or right here online. When your students 'Speak Out' at AnnenbergClassroom.org, they participate in a moderated, national dialogue of their peers.  We publish up to 10 news stories a day, many media resources each year, and at least two Speak Outs each week during the school year."

Other Resources on the Annenberg Classroom Site:
Because of the range of resources on the site, judges and other presenters might find it valuable to browse deeper into the site to determine if there are other resources of value for a particular presentation.  There is special depth of curricular materials relating to the Constitution and the Courts.  Linked on the same page as the video is an Equal Justice Under Law lesson plan, two related videos — The Importance of the Yick Wo Case video and The 14th Amendment video — an Immigration timeline and the additional resources of Critical Thinking Resources for Civil Rights and Our Constitution book. Links to organizations interested in the courts can be found here.  The homepage of the Annenberg site can be found here.  All the interactive games on the site are gathered here.

Who is the audience?

The concepts explored in this video are quite sophisticated — and there is a significant amount of history involved — so the intended audience is older than a first glance might suggest.  The focus and specificity of video make it especially appropriate for high school and older students, albeit the material and style of presentation is sufficiently engaging that, with some direction, younger students could use the video and be taught from the lesson plan.  Students who come from an immigrant background might find this case of special interest.

What other resources will complement this?

  1. 9/11 and the Constitution  Lesson plans from the Center for Civic Education (M, H)  
  2. A Day in the Life  Interactive "game" from PBS.org (M, H)
  3. Balancing Free Speech and Fair Trial   Lesson Plan from the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts (H)
  4. Courts in the Classroom  Videos from the Judicial Council of California and the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts (P, M H)
  5. Interpreting the Constitution: What Does That Mean?  Lesson Plan from iCivics (H)
  6. Korematsu and Civil Liberties  Video from the Leonore Annenberg Institute for Civics (H, A)
  7. One Person, One Vote  Video and lesson plan from the Leonore Annenberg Institute for Civics (H, A)
  8. Perseverance and the Bill of Rights  Lesson plan from the Bill of Rights Institute, via the National Constitution Center (M, H)  
  9. Respecting Freedom of Speech  Lesson Plan from the Bill of Rights Institute, via the National Constitution Center (M, H)  
  10. Supreme Decision  Game from iCivics (M, H) 
  11. The First and Fourteenth Amendments  Lesson Plan from Channel One (M, H)  
  12. The Story of the Bill of Rights  Videos and game from the Leonore Annenberg Institute for Civics (M, H)

Additional Recommended Resources Off-Site Links
  1. A Constitutional Timeline
    • Multi-aged audience timeline that highlights key dates in history of Constitution, with links to text, audio and video clips. From National Constitution Center's Constitution Day site. 
  2. Interactive Constitution
    • Multi-aged audience site that enables users to search Constitution by keyword or topic, with access to explanatory materials throughout. From National Constitution Center.   
  3. The Annenberg Guide to the United States Constitution
    • Multi-aged audience site that lists the text of each section of every article in the Constitution, and provides explanation of what the text means in plain language.  From the Leonore Annenberg Institute of Civics. 
  4. Understanding the Federal Courts
    • Multi-aged online textbook-type document that includes sections on Article III, the Federal Court system and the geographical boundaries of the Courts of Appeal and the District Courts, the code of conduct for judges, juror qualifications, exemptions and terms of service, as well as categories of bankruptcy cases.  From the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts.