Vikram David Amar

Vikram David Amar

Vikram David Amar is the Dean and Iwan Foundation Professor of Law at the University of Illinois College of Law. Immediately prior to taking the position at Illinois, Amar served as the Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and a Professor of Law at the University of California, Davis School of Law, whose faculty he rejoined in 2007 after teaching at UC Hastings for a decade. He has also taught regularly as a visiting professor at UC Berkeley School of Law and at UCLA School of Law.

He received a bachelor's degree in history from UC Berkeley and his J.D. from Yale, where he served as an articles editor for the Yale Law Journal. Upon graduating from law school in 1988, Professor 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.

Professor Amar writes, teaches and consults in the public law fields, especially constitutional law, civil procedure, and remedies. He is a co-author (along with William Cohen and Jonathan Varat) of Constitutional Law: Cases and Materials (Foundation Press, 12th ed. 2005), 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 in a variety of journals, including the Yale Law Journal, the Stanford Law Review, the Cornell Law Review, the Virginia Law Review, the Vanderbilt Law Review, the California Law Review, the William and Mary Law Review, the Hastings Law Journal, Constitutional Commentary, the Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly, and the Green Bag Journal.

Columns by Vikram David Amar

A Primer on Impeachment (With Special Attention to the Recent Allegations of Interference by President Trump in the Flynn/Russia Investigation)

Illinois Law dean and professor Vikram David Amar explains a few basics about the presidential impeachment process. Amar points out that impeachable conduct does not need to violate criminal statutes, that presidential participation in pending investigations isn’t necessarily wrong (but can be), and that not all “high crimes and misdemeanors” must lead to impeachment.

An Academic Year-End Look at Some Bright Spots and Significant Challenges for Legal Education

Illinois Law dean Vikram David Amar comments on two important indicators of the health of legal education—employment outcomes and bar passage rates. Amar points out that based on the currently reported data on employment for America’s ABA-accredited law schools, the overall percentage has gone up for the Class of 2016 as compared to the Class of 2015. Amar also argues that law schools should take a deeper look at the factors contributing to low (and in some cases, increasingly low) bar pass rates.

Another New Federalism Flashpoint: State and Local Laws Targeting Entities that Assist in “Building the Wall”

Illinois Law dean and professor Vikram David Amar comments on recent actions by state and local governments to oppose federal policies, such as the immigration and the wall along the U.S.–Mexico border. Amar argues that these attempts likely run contrary to the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution by attempting to interfere with the execution of federal policy.

The Complexities of a “Motive” Analysis in Challenging President Trump’s Executive Order Regarding Entry to the United States

Illinois Law dean and professor Vikram David Amar and UC Davis Law emeritus professor Alan E. Brownstein explain the complexities behind analyzing the motive underlying legislation and executive orders. Specifically, Amar and Brownstein highlight the difficulty in courts’ using perceived motive to strike down President Trump’s executive order regarding entry to the United States.

Ambitious Proposals in the States Testing Constitutional Limits of Legislative Power to Interpret the Constitution

Illinois Law dean and professor Vikram David Amar discusses several legislative proposals in various states that purport to give state legislatures power to interpret and implement the federal Constitution notwithstanding judicial rulings interpreting the same. Amar explains some of the key differences between the different proposals and why some are likely to pass constitutional muster while others are not.

What Are We to Make of the First Month of the New Trump Administration in Constitutional Perspective?

University of Illinois Law dean and professor Vikram David Amar provides answers to some common questions about the Trump Administration from a constitutional perspective. Specifically, Amar addresses what is a constitutional crisis and whether we are approaching one, what the worst-case constitutional scenario might look like, how state and local governments can resist federal government overreach, to what extent executive criticism of the judiciary has a chilling effect, and what topics are fair game in the confirmation hearings of Judge Neil Gorsuch.

How Strong is San Francisco’s “Sanctuary City” Lawsuit Against the Trump Administration?

Illinois Law dean Vikram David Amar and California civil litigator Michael Schaps consider the strength of San Francisco’s lawsuit against the Trump Administration arising out of its identity as a “sanctuary city.” Amar and Schaps discuss both the ripeness of the claim, a threshold procedural matter, and also the merits of San Francisco’s arguments.

Philadelphia’s Ban on Employers Asking Job Applicants for Salary History Raises Interesting First Amendment Questions

Illinois Law dean and professor Vikram David Amar and UC Davis Law professor Alan Brownstein discuss a law the Philadelphia mayor recently signed into law that prohibits employers in that city from asking job applicants to provide their past salary data, in an attempt to reduce the wage gap between men and women. Amar and Brownstein specifically consider some of the arguments that the law violates the First Amendment.

Constitutional Lessons from the Senate’s Quick Processing of President-Elect Trump’s Cabinet Picks?

Illinois Law dean and professor Vikram David Amar describes two lessons we should take away from the Senate’s processing of President-elect Trump’s nominees for his Cabinet. First, Amar explains the constitutional difference between executive and judicial appointments. Second, Amar explains the relatively long time between the end of the election and when the president-elect actually takes office, and also proposes a way to reduce this period and ease transition.

Can and Should States Mandate Tax Return Disclosure as a Condition for Presidential Candidates to Appear on the Ballot?

Illinois Law dean and professor Vikram David Amar considers whether states have the authority to mandate tax return disclosure in order to appear on the presidential election ballot—and if they do, whether exercising that authority is a good idea. Amar explains why the legal authority for enacting such laws is unclear and argues that they could potentially undermine the democratic process, whereas a national popular vote would strengthen the process.

Why Electors Should Not Make Hillary Clinton (or Anyone Else Besides Donald Trump) President

Illinois Law dean and professor Vikram David Amar argues that the presidential electors should not elect anyone besides Donald Trump when they cast their ballots on December 19. Amar points out that while there are better way to elect a president than the electoral college, it would be unwise to switch rules after the end of the election and allow independent, unaccountable electors to make decisions based on what they think America wants.

California’s July 2016 Bar Results, and the Bar’s Apparent (and Wrong-Headed) Decision to Stop Providing School-by-School Data

Illinois Law dean and professor Vikram David Amar comments on the dropping passage rate of the California bar exam, and the bar’s apparent decision to stop providing school-by-school data on passage rates. Amar explains why releasing less—rather than more—data is a poor decision and calls upon the California bar to correct this wrong.

Fixing the Problem of “Faithless” Electors

Illinois Law dean and professor Vikram David Amar proposes a solution to the problem of the “faithless” elector—a person who pledges to vote in a particular way but then who wants to cast his or her electoral college vote in a different direction. Amar provides specific language that states could implement as law to address these rogue individuals whose actions could alter a presidential election result.

Constitutional Lessons From Comey’s Unwise “October Surprise” Decision to Comment on Clinton Investigation Yet Again

Illinois law dean and law professor Vikram David Amar describes three takeaway lessons from FBI Director James Comey’s decision to comment on the ongoing Clinton email investigation a second time. Amar argues that (1) with respect to investigators, sometimes less formal independence means more latitude to act out, (2) the FBI director should not operate outside of DOJ bounds, and (3) the DOJ policy of not commenting on ongoing investigations arises from the Constitution.

Two Big Legal Misconceptions That Have Recently Arisen in the Presidential Race

Illinois Law dean Vikram David Amar and California civil litigation attorney Michael Schaps address two common misconceptions about the relationship between criminal law and politics that recently arose in the presidential race. Amar and Schaps explain first why the presumption of innocence does not apply to politics, and second, why the president actually does have the power to order prosecutions.

Do Fourth Amendment Protections Vanish After an Indictment? The Manuel v. Joliet Case on the Supreme Court’s Docket

University of Illinois Law dean and law professor Vikram David Amar comments on a case in which the Supreme Court heard oral arguments this week. In that case—Manuel v. Joliet—the Court will consider whether an individual’s Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable seizure continues after an indictment has issued, thereby allowing a malicious prosecution claim based on the Fourth Amendment. Amar argues that the case highlights some unusual features of Supreme Court practice, as well as some important aspects of constitutional law.

In a Case with Blockbuster Potential, Detroit School Children Assert a Federal Constitutional Right to Literacy

University of Illinois dean and law professor Vikram David Amar takes an early look at Gary B. v. Snyder, a case recently filed in federal district court that addresses a child’s fundamental right to literacy. Amar explains how the timing may be ideal for a case of this nature, should it ultimately reach the Supreme Court, since the Court seems increasingly willing to recognize new liberties not mentioned in the Constitution, among other compelling reasons.

The Problem With the Texas Federal Court’s Nationwide Order Regarding Bathroom Access for Transgender Students

Illinois Law dean and professor Vikram David Amar and U.C. Davis Law professor Courtney Joslin discuss a recent decision by a federal district court in Texas issuing a nationwide order regarding bathroom access for transgender students. Amar and Joslin explain why the order almost certainly oversteps that court’s authority without providing any reasons or analysis to justify its overbroad relief.

Who Oversees the Overseers? An Explosive Law Review Article Points Up the Difficulty in Keeping Appellate Courts Honest

University of Illinois dean and law professor Vikram David Amar responds to a law review article by University of Illinois law professor Al Alschuler criticizing the Seventh Circuit, and specifically judge Frank Easterbrook, for what Alschuler views as judicial wrongdoing. Rather than comment on the validity of Professor Alschuler’s allegations, Amar argues that Alschuler’s article highlights the need for greater attention to be paid to the integrity and validity of U.S. courts of appeals.