Vikram David Amar

Vikram David Amar is the Dean and Iwan Foundation Professor of Law at the University of Illinois College of Law on the Urbana-Champaign campus. Immediately prior to taking the position at Illinois in 2015, Amar served as the Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and a Professor of Law at the UC Davis School of Law. He has also had teaching stints at three other law schools affiliated with the University of California: the UC Berkeley School of Law; the UCLA School of Law; and Hastings College of the Law.

He received a bachelor's degree in history from UC Berkeley and his JD from Yale, where he served as an articles editor for the Yale Law Journal. Upon graduating from law school in 1988, Dean Amar clerked for Judge William A. Norris of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and then for Justice Harry A. Blackmun of the United States Supreme Court. After that he spent a few years at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, devoting half of his time to federal white-collar criminal defense and the other half to complex civil litigation.

Dean Amar writes, teaches and consults in the public law fields, especially constitutional law, civil procedure, and remedies. He is a co-author (along with Jonathan Varat) of Constitutional Law: Cases and Materials (Foundation Press, 15th ed. 2017), and is a co-author on a number of volumes of the Wright & Miller Federal Practice and Procedure Treatise (West Publishing Co.). In addition, he has published articles and essays in a variety of journals, including the Yale Law Journal, the Stanford Law Review, the Virginia Law Review, the California Law Review, the Cornell Law Review, the Vanderbilt Law Review, the William and Mary Law Review, the Minnesota Law Review, the UC Davis Law Review, the Hastings Law Journal, Constitutional Commentary, the Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly, and the Green Bag Journal.

Columns by Vikram David Amar

The Significance of the Supreme Court’s Williams-Yulee Decision Upholding Florida’s Regulation of Judicial Elections

Updated:

UC Davis law professor Vikram David Amar discusses a recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that has received little attention despite its significance—Williams-Yulee v. Florida Bar. In that case, a 5-4 majority of the Court upheld a Florida law that forbids candidates running in contested elections for judicial office from personally soliciting campaign contributions. Amar argues that the ruling provides important insights about First Amendment doctrine and also about the membership of the Roberts Court.

The (Limited) Utility of State Religious Freedom Restoration Acts (RFRAs): Part Two in a Two-Part Series of Columns

Updated:

UC Davis law professors Vikram David Amar and Alan Brownstein continue their discussion of state religious freedom restoration acts (RFRAs). Amar and Brownstein discuss the original purpose of state RFRAs, the pros and cons of enacting a general religious liberty statute as opposed to granting accommodations on a case-by-case basis, and the best way for states to move forward in light of these considerations.

How Best to Understand State Religious Freedom Restoration Acts (RFRAs): Part One in a Two-Part Series of Columns

Updated:

UC Davis law professors Vikram David Amar and Alan Brownstein discuss state religious freedom restoration acts (RFRAs). In this first of a two-part series of columns, Amar and Brownstein argue that whether a state RFRA should apply in private litigation should be determined on a case-by-case basis.

Some “Teachable” First Amendment Moments in the Supreme Court’s Oral Argument About Confederate Flags on Texas License Plates

Updated:

UC Davis law professor Vikram David Amar comments on the case currently before the U.S. Supreme Court regarding Texas’s rejection of a custom license plate application that included the Confederate flag. Specifically, Amar considers three First Amendment issues raised during the recent oral argument for that case.

What a California Proposal to Authorize the Killing of Gays Says About the Initiative Process and the First Amendment

Updated:

UC Davis law professors Vikram David Amar and Alan E. Brownstein discuss the so-called “Sodomite Suppression Act”—a recently proposed California initiative. Amar and Brownstein argue that despite the clear illegality and immorality of the proposed initiative, many of the suggestions that the attorney who proposed it be punished or that the initiative process be altered to prevent these types of initiatives are themselves unconstitutional in some cases, and at best ill-advised in other cases.

Reflections on the Oral Argument in the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission Case: Some Interesting (and Disheartening) Features, Including Justice Kennedy’s Incomplete Description of U.S. History

Updated:

U.C. Davis law professor Vikram David Amar comments on the recent oral argument in the Arizona Independent Redistricting case before the U.S. Supreme Court. In particular, he points out the lack of attention to the question of standing and Justice Anthony Kennedy’s overly (and erroneously) simplistic view of U.S. history.

Can an Elected State Legislature Sue the State? And Can Congress Approve State Laws That Otherwise Violate the Constitution? More on the Arizona Redistricting Commission Case

Updated:

U.C. Davis law professor Vikram David Amar continues his discussion of the Arizona redistricting commission case currently before the U.S. Supreme Court. Amar considers both the question of standing and the actual merits of the issue presented.

How Federalism Cuts Against the Challengers in King v. Burwell: Part Two in a Two-Part Series

Updated:

U.C. Davis law professor Vikram David Amar continues his discussion on how federalism cuts against the challengers to the Obamacare statute in King v. Burwell. In this second of a two-part series, Amar addresses some counterarguments to his thesis that federalism principles bolster the federal government’s position in that case.

Why the Federalism Teachings from the 2012 Obamacare Case Weaken the Challengers’ Case in King v. Burwell

Updated:

U.C. Davis Law professor Vikram David Amar explains how the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2012 decision in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius—upholding Obamacare as a proper exercise of Congress’s tax powers and striking down a significant expansion of Medicaid—weakens the case of subsequent challengers to Obamacare in King v. Burwell.

Lower Bar Pass Rates in Some States Should Cause Us to Examine This Year’s Test, and the Bar Exam in General

Updated:

U.C. Davis law professor Vikram David Amar comments on the lower bar pass rate for the July 2014 exam as compared to prior years. Amar discusses the response by the exam’s creators and how educators, practitioners, and others can use the incident to explore broader questions regarding the licensure requirements for the practice of law.

Whether and Why Delegations of Government Power to Private Actors Are Problematic: The Court May Take Up the Nondelegation Doctrine in DOT v. Association of American Railroads

Updated:

UC Davis law professor Vikram David Amar discusses a case the U.S. Supreme Court will decide this Term regarding the so-called nondelegation doctrine. Amar argues that the Court should uphold the delegation of power in this case and that related concerns about conflicts of interest and anti-competition that may arise from some delegations to market actors are better handled under a due process analysis.

The Supreme Court to Consider When Threats Can Be Punished Consistent with the First Amendment

Updated:

U.C. Davis law professors Vikram David Amar and Alan E. Brownstein discuss a case the U.S. Supreme Court that will be argued in the coming months, which presents the issue how courts should define “true threats” that fall outside First Amendment protection and thus are subject to punishment.

Yet Another (Judicial) Incursion Into A State’s Decisions About How to Structure Direct Democracy: The Ninth Circuit’s Ruling in Chula Vista Citizens for Jobs and Fair Competition v. Norris

Updated:

U.C. Davis School of Law professor Vikram David Amar describes a recent incursion by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit into California’s direct democracy system. Amar explains the U.S. Supreme Court precedents that led the Ninth Circuit to its conclusion, and he calls upon the Court to cut back or overrule its prior erroneous decisions to avoid future injuries to state direct democracy systems.

Are “Advisory” Measures (Like Proposition 49) Permitted on the California Ballot?

Updated:

UC Davis law professor Vikram David Amar discusses a recent decision by the California Supreme Court temporarily blocking an “advisory” measure from appearing on the ballot. Focusing on the opinion by Justice Goodwin Liu, Amar describes three main weaknesses in the rationale behind disallowing the legislature from placing the advisory question (or any advisory question) on the ballot.