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

Most law school casebooks are hundreds of pages and challenging to navigate. This video casebook uses new multimedia technologies to make that same legal knowledge clear and accessible to all types of learners. Harvard Law School has committed to providing this 2023-2024 edition to law schools for free.

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.

Case of the Month

Watch a Video from the Curriculum

About Professor Natapoff

Alexandra Natapoff is the Lee S. Kreindler Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, an award-winning legal scholar, and criminal justice expert. She writes about criminal courts, public defense, plea bargaining, wrongful convictions, and race and inequality in the criminal system. Professor Natapoff is a 2016 Guggenheim Fellow, a graduate of Yale University and Stanford Law School, and a former Assistant Federal Public Defender in Baltimore, Maryland. She draws all the stick figures herself.

For Educators

For more information about using this video casebook for your law classes in academic year 2023-2024, take a look at the “For Educators” page and register. Registration and educator access are free.

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 homing 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.​

NEW: Guest Contributors

Leading constitutional law scholars have generously contributed new guest videos to CRBW. Each professor provides an analysis of a major Supreme Court case in their special area of expertise, from voting rights to prison law to same-sex marriage. These bonus materials offer students a sophisticated introduction to a wide range of constitutional law topics, provided by some of the most luminous thinkers in the legal academy. Register and take a look. 

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. There is a full syllabus devoted to criminal law and procedure and six new bonus videos on various constitutional law topics. Over time, CRBW will expand to include new cases and more subject-matter areas.

The videos are created by Professor Natapoff, with the support of the Learning Experience and Innovation team at Harvard Law School. Guest videos are created jointly by Professor Natapoff and guest scholars. Other materials come from a range of publicly available sources.

“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