Introduction to U.S. Constitutional Law (Online)

Open to students entering grades 10, 11, 12 or freshman year of college in the fall
Online, July 18–August 4, 2017
Days & Time:
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10:00 a.m.–11:30 a.m. EDT
Jamal Greene
“Presidents come and go, but the Supreme Court goes on forever.”— William Howard Taft, U.S. President and Chief Justice of the United States

Course Description

The United States Supreme Court plays an important role in the country’s system of government. Its high-profile decisions often dominate the news and every Presidential candidate has an opinion on what kind of Justice they would like to see on the Court.

But how did the Supreme Court come to be such an important part of the government? How does the Court interact with the other branches of federal government? How do the Supreme Court and other courts interpret the Constitution? How do those courts’ decisions impact the lives of everyday citizens? These questions and more will be addressed in this course, designed for students who are interested in government and the role the courts play in interpreting our nation’s laws.

Taught by a Columbia Law School professor and preeminent constitutional law scholar, the course explores the basic structure of the Constitution, the powers it grants to the federal government, and some of the basic rights and protections it provides to individuals. It pays particular attention to the opinions of the U.S. Supreme Court, which is the highest court in the federal system.

Students completing this course will acquire an understanding of the origins of the Court’s power to review the constitutionality of governmental actions. Students will also begin to explore the scope of rights against discrimination, right to privacy in making fundamental decisions, and rights to freedom of speech and religion. More generally, students will understand the methods through which constitutional analysis is conducted in U.S. courts.

Please note that this course takes place entirely online. The residential option is not available for students who elect this curricular option, and course participants have access only to electronic campus resources.

Participants will need to have, in addition to a computer, a USB-based microphone and headset (such as the Logitech ClearChat Comfort USB Headset), and a web camera. So as to ensure seamless connectivity, we recommend a hard-wired Internet connection (Ethernet) rather than Wi-Fi. Either a Windows or Apple-based computer – desktop or laptop – is suitable.


Jamal Greene

Jamal Greene is the Dwight Professor of Law at Columbia Law School. His area of expertise is constitutional jurisprudence and his teaching and research interests include Constitutional Law, Constitutional Theory, the First Amendment, Federal Courts, and Comparative Constitutional Law. Prior to joining the Law School faculty in 2008, Professor Greene was a law clerk to Judge Guido Calabresi, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, from 2005 to 2006 and a law clerk to Justice John Paul Stevens, Supreme Court of the United States, from 2006 to 2007.