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Stover Scholars present Constitution Day film

Rachel Pellegrino Sep 17, 2020

The Waynesburg University Stover Scholars announce the completion of their “Is it Part of our Law?” video production in celebration of Constitution Day Thursday, Sept. 17.

The video dramatizes the 1900 U.S. Supreme Court case, The Paquete Habana, which declared “International Law is part of our law.”

In that case, the Paquete Habana, a fishing ship captured by the U.S. Navy off the coast of Cuba during the Spanish-American War, ruled international law exempts coastal fishermen from capture as prizes of war. The U.S. Supreme Court held that because a rule of “customary international law” prohibited states from capturing fishing vessels owned by civilians of enemy states and “international law is part of our law,” the U.S. Navy's capture of the Paquete Habana was illegal. 

The drama captures the significance of the case, the disagreement between the court's majority opinion and dissent and the political and scholarly debates surrounding the case.

“The Stover Scholars have thoroughly explored an important Supreme Court case, wrestling with the meaning of the U.S. Constitution in relation to International Law from over a century ago and engagingly demonstrated the importance of this case for the contemporary moment,” said Dr. Lawrence M. Stratton, director of the Stover Center for Constitutional Studies and Moral Leadership and associate professor of ethics and constitutional law.

The video is directed and scripted by Stover Scholar Ryan Williams, a senior political science major, with assistance from a committee of Stover Scholars. The committee authored the video based on the ESPN documentary series 30 for 30.

“This will be the second year we are doing this theme, but with it being a film we will hopefully be able to implement that theme even better,” Williams said.

The executive producer of the film is Lachlan Loudon, a junior journalism and electronic media major. Loudon worked closely with Stover Scholars Andrew Hreha, a senior journalism major, and Williams to piece the scenes together into a news report format.

With this special video production, as opposed to the annual Constitution Day play, the Stover Scholars hope to reach a larger audience, as they provide an engaging film capturing the interrelationship of International Law and the U.S. legal system.