Vikram David Amar
Vikram David Amar

Vikram David Amar is a Distinguished Professor of Law at UC Davis School of Law and a Professor of Law and Former Dean 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 UC 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. It appears that Dean Amar was the first person of South Asian heritage to clerk at the U.S. Supreme Court, and was the first American-born person of Indian descent to serve as a dean of a major American law school.

Dean Amar is one of the most eminent and frequently cited authorities in constitutional law, federal courts, and civil procedure. He has produced several books and over 60 articles in leading law reviews. He is a co-author (along with Akhil Reed Amar) of the upcoming edition of the six-volume Treatise on Constitutional Law (West Publishing Co., 6th ed. 2021) pioneered by Ron Rotunda and John Nowak, as well as the hardbound and soft-cover one-volume hornbooks that derive from it. He is also a co-author (along with Jonathan Varat) of Constitutional Law: Cases and Materials (Foundation Press, 15th ed. 2017), a co-author on multiple volumes of the Wright & Miller Federal Practice and Procedure Treatise (West Publishing Co. 2006), and a co-author (along with John Oakley) of a one-volume work on American Civil Procedure (Kluwer, 2008).

Columns by Vikram David Amar
How Federalism Cuts Against the Challengers in King v. Burwell: Part Two in a Two-Part Series

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

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

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

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

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

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?

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.

Is the University of California Wrong For Admitting More Non-Californians?

UC Davis law professor Vikram David Amar discusses the claim that the University of California is admitting out-of-state and international students to the exclusion of California students. Amar describes some of the factual misunderstandings leading to this criticism and explains why the University’s present solution actually represents a balancing act that benefits California students.

How to Read Justice Kennedy’s Crucial Concurring Opinion in Hobby Lobby: Part II in a Series

Vikram David Amar, a U.C. Davis law professor, continues his discussion of the significance of Justice Anthony Kennedy’s concurrence in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores Inc.. Amar describes several ways in which Justice Kennedy’s concurrence can be read to limit the breadth of the Court’s holding in that case and suggests that lower courts should pay close attention to his concurring opinion when applying the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) in subsequent cases.

A Potential Guide to the Meaning of Hobby Lobby: Why Justice Kennedy’s Concurring Opinion May Be Key, Part I

Professor Vikram David Amar, of U.C. Davis School of Law, explains why Justice Kennedy’s concurring opinion in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. deserves heightened attention and weight. In this first of a two-part series of columns, Amar provides background on the roles and types of concurring opinions in 5-4 decisions and provides some historical examples of some key concurrences.

Follow-Up on California’s Legislative Effort to Repeal Proposition 187

U.C. Davis law professor Vikram David Amar continues his discussion of the California Legislature’s efforts to repeal, by ordinary legislation, provisions of a proposition that have been blocked indefinitely by a federal district court judge. Amar responds to arguments by the State Legislative Counsel that Proposition 187 can be repealed by simple legislation. He contends that the Legislative Counsel overreads the import of a judicial block on enforcement of the proposition and ignores the expressive effects of that law. Amar concludes by proposing that while he agrees that the repeal should go forward, it should follow prescribed procedures and include popular approval.

Why the California Legislature Can’t Simply Repeal the Judicially Invalidated Proposition 187

U.C. Davis law professor Vikram David Amar discusses efforts by California lawmakers to repeal provisions of the state code that a federal judge invalidated many years ago. Amar explains why those efforts, though understandable, reflect fundamental understandings of the scope of the legislature’s authority and the essence of judicial review.

Three Recently Accepted Cases Shed Light on the Supreme Court’s Process for Granting Review

U.C. Davis law professor Vikram David Amar discusses how three cases on the U.S. Supreme Court’s docket for the 2014-2015 Term illustrate the nuanced principles behind the Court’s selection of cases for review. Amar describes each case and explains why the Supreme Court likely chose it for review.

The Equality and Coercion Issues Inadequately Addressed in Town of Greece v. Galloway

U.C. Davis law professors Vikram David Amar and Alan Brownstein express their surprise and disappointment at the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling in Town of Greece v. Galloway, upholding a practice of starting town board meetings with a prayer. Amar and Brownstein argue that the decision inadequately addresses legitimate concerns over the plaintiff challengers’ equality- and liberty-based arguments. They conclude that Justice Kennedy, who authored the opinion, must view reality quite differently from how he did when he authored the majority opinion in Lee v. Weisman and struck down state-sponsored prayers at public middle and high school graduations.

How the Biggest Supreme Court Victory for Affirmative Action a Decade Ago Contributed to the Defeat for Affirmative Action Last Month in the Schuette Case

Justia columnist and U.C. Davis law professor Vikram David Amar discusses the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action upholding the Michigan state constitutional ban on race-based affirmative action. Amar explains how the Court’s 2003 decision in Grutter v. Bollinger—widely regarded as a victory for proponents of affirmative action programs—paradoxically contributed to the outcome in Schuette. Amar concludes that while diversity is a worthwhile rationale for race-based admissions programs, minority students would be better served if that rationale supplemented, rather than a replaced, the original remedial purpose of such programs.

What Will the Supreme Court Do in the False Campaign Speech Case, Susan B. Anthony List v. Driehaus, Argued This Week?

Justia columnist and UC Davis law professor Vikram David Amar discusses a campaign regulation case in which the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments earlier this week. In that case, Susan B. Anthony List v. Driehaus, pro-life organization Susan B. Anthony List (SBA List) challenged on First Amendment grounds an Ohio law criminalizing certain false statements concerning a candidate for public office. Amar predicts what the Supreme Court will do and contrasts that with what he believes the Court should do in this case.

The Narrow (and Proper) Way for the Court to Rule in Hobby Lobby’s Favor

Justia columnist Vikram David Amar and Justia guest columnist Alan Brownstein, both U.C., Davis law professors, predict that Hobby Lobby will prevail in the Hobby Lobby Supreme Court case. They add that it will be very important for the preservation of other important legal principles and public policies that the Court not rule in Hobby Lobby’s favor on too broad a basis. Thus, they comment on how the opinion should—and should not—be crafted.

Is Tim Draper’s Six Californias Plan to Split the State Legal Under California Law?

Justia columnist and U.C. Davis law professor Vikram David Amar continues his discussion of the legal issues raised by Tim Draper’s “Six Californias” initiative. In this column, Amar focuses on one particular issue: whether California courts will block the initiative on the ground that it constitutes a “revision” of the California constitution. Amar explains the procedural distinctions between “revisions” and “amendments” to the state constitution and suggests that current case law does not clearly predict the outcome of the Six Californias initiative.

Consistency in the Treatment of Religious Liberty Claims: Hobby Lobby and Town of Greece Viewed Side by Side

Justia columnist Vikram Amar and Justia guest columnist Alan Brownstein, both U.C. Davis law professors, comment on two key upcoming Supreme Court cases involving religion: (1) the highly-anticipated Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. cases that will be argued in the Supreme Court next month, and that involve challenges under the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) to the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that employers must provide contraceptive services in their healthcare policies offered to employees; and (2) Town of Greece v. Galloway, which involves the permissibility of state-sponsored prayers before town board meetings.