Constitutional Rights in Black and White

This is a video casebook about the legal decisions that define and govern our constitutional rights. Each video tells the story of an important Supreme Court case, and then shows you how to read the case yourself. The casebook was developed at Harvard Law School.

A Different Kind of Casebook

This is a video casebook about the legal decisions that define and govern our constitutional rights. Each video tells the story of an important Supreme Court case, and then shows you how to read the case yourself. The casebook was developed at Harvard Law School.

A Different Kind of Curriculum

Each video gives a basic introduction to a significant Supreme Court case, to the law governing that particular constitutional right, and to the art of reading a Supreme Court decision. To delve more deeply, students can also read the full decision written by the Supreme Court; legal scholarship that explains and explores its significance; news stories; and relevant legal documents. These additional materials are in the modules.

Welcome to CRBW

About Professor Natapoff

Each video gives a basic introduction to a significant Supreme Court case, to the law governing that particular constitutional right, and to the art of reading a Supreme Court decision. To delve more deeply, students can also read the full decision written by the Supreme Court; legal scholarship that explains and explores its significance; news stories; and relevant legal documents. These additional materials are in the modules.

For Educators

For more information about using this video casebook for your law school class in spring 2022, please Contact Us. In the future, we look forward to expanding access to other institutions including: colleges and universities, high schools, libraries, prisons, and nonprofits.

Case of the Month

Watch a Video from the Curriculum

Student Comments

I am not an auditory learner. It is thus very difficult for me to get much out of lectures. I learn best by doing and through visuals. For me, these videos were extremely helpful for that reason. First, the storytelling aspect of the cases and the cute characters helped me to better recall important information. Also, I was able to (and did, sometimes several times) go back and rewatch portions as needed.

I especially liked the fact summary portions of the video (definitely including the stick figures!). Obviously, the specific facts of the cases we read are so important to our analyses, and the more engaging descriptions (as opposed to just reading the facts in the book) make the cases and their fact patterns memorable both for class and for application in the future.

The [videos] were much more memorable than reading a case solely on paper. Having visual cues and characters helped a lot. The highlighting of the case itself was also great for honing in on which parts of the opinion were most important.

I appreciated the implications discussions, because they helped me be sure I was understanding what the doctrine actually meant outside of the text.

Frequently Asked Questions

CRBW is a new multimedia legal casebook about American constitutional rights. It is a unique collection and presentation of legal materials traditionally covered in a written casebook; it is not a course, in whole or in part. CRBW was designed, written, drawn, and recorded by Professor Alexandra Natapoff.

CRBW is made up of modules. Each module contains an educational video about a major Supreme Court case, the Court’s actual decision (edited and annotated for clarity), and a range of related materials. The pilot edition is focused on criminal law and procedure: click here to see the Syllabus. Over time, CRBW will expand to include new cases, more content, and more subject-matter areas.

The videos are created by Professor Natapoff, with the support of the Learning Experience & Technology team at Harvard Law School. The other materials come from a range of publicly available sources.

To our knowledge, this is the first multimedia legal casebook of its kind. HLS is releasing this initial «pilot» version to law schools while we work out the kinks and surprises that inevitably come with pedagogical and technological innovation. The plan is to make the full curriculum available to all educational institutions for the next academic year, 2022-2023.

«Constitutional rights are a central part of our democracy—they shape how we interact with our government and how our government interacts with us. This video casebook aims to help all students read these powerful and influential legal decisions, to better understand our constitutional democracy, and to engage the vital legal, political, and social questions at stake. I hope you enjoy the videos.»

- Alexandra Natapoff, Lee S. Kreindler Professor of Law, Harvard Law School