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 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 and Steven Calabresi) 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
What We Could Learn from Brazil (and Vice Versa) About Presidential Impeachment Procedures (and Related Matters)

Vikram David Amar, law professor and dean at Illinois Law, compares and contrasts the presidential impeachment procedures in the United States and Brazil. Amar suggests five ways in which these two large presidential democracies could benefit from more detailed study of the other’s procedures.

Should Voters’ Hands in the Vice Presidential Selection Process Be Tied?

University of Illinois dean and law professor Vikram David Amar explains how voters’ hands are tied when it comes to electing a vice president. Amar calls into question this widespread practice and considers whether we might improve the democratic process by changing it.

How Should Courts Evaluate a Treatment Decision by a Government Doctor That Takes into Account the Patient’s Race? The Ninth Circuit Doesn’t Quite Get Things Right

Vikram David Amar, law professor and dean at Illinois Law, and Michael Schaps, a California civil litigation attorney, critique a recent decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit considering whether and when a government physician can take into account a patient’s race. Amar and Schaps argue that the court’s analysis is internally consistent and legally flawed, as well.

A Specific Proposal That Helps Give Us a Sense of What Getting Rid of Citizens United Might Entail

Illinois Law dean and professor Vikram David Amar examines California’s Proposition 49—which seeks the voters’ approval for the California legislature to ratify an amendment to the federal Constitution to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United v. FEC—in order to shine light on what might be required to overturn the decision on a federal level. Amar argues that Proposition 49 highlights just how difficult it would be to craft a workable constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United.

The Grave Risks of the Senate Republicans’ Stated Refusal to Process any Supreme Court Nominee President Obama Sends Them

Illinois Law dean and professor Vikram David Amar describes some of the risks Senate Republicans will face if they refuse to process any Supreme Court nominee that President Obama sends them, as they have claimed they would. Among these risks, Amar argues, are the possibility that a President Hillary Clinton might appoint Obama to the Supreme Court, that the Democrats could take over the Senate and approve a nominee that a Republican-controlled Senate would not have approved, or even that Justices Breyer and Ginsburg could retire under a Democrat-controlled Senate, giving President Obama three places on the Court to fill with liberal justices.

Sticking Up (Kind of) for a(n Idaho) State Court Slapped Down by the U.S. Supremes

Vikram David Amar—dean and law professor at the University of Illinois College of Law—comments on a summary reversal by the U.S. Supreme Court of a decision by the Idaho Supreme Court. While Amar agrees with the Court that the Idaho court erred in reaching its decision, but he argues that the Idaho jurists were not guilty of the particular stupidity or defiance the Supreme Court imputed to them.

Homespun Wisdom (and Wrongheadedness) in Iowa on the Treatment of Muslims

Illinois Law dean and law professor Vikram David Amar evaluates three people’s statements regarding America’s treatment of Muslims: President Obama, an Iowa businessman, and a local Muslim cleric (an imam). Amar points out that Donald Trump’s proposal that America ban all Muslims from entering the country is vastly underinclusive (because the great majority of violent acts in this country are perpetrated by non-Muslims), and at the same time very overinclusive (because the overwhelming majority of Muslims who want to enter the United States intend no harm)—two indicators of legal and moral unfairness.

What the Detailed Data from California on the July 2015 Bar Exam Results Might Tell Us About the Bigger Picture

Illinois Law professor and dean Vikram David Amar interprets the recently released data on California’s bar exam results from July 2015. Amar expresses concern at the lower pass rates and calls upon both the profession and the academy to examine the way we train and license lawyers.

How One Might Have Answered Justice Scalia’s Questions (About the Mismatch Theory) at Oral Argument in the Fisher Case

Vikram David Amar, law professor and dean at Illinois Law, and Michael Schaps, a California civil litigation attorney, discuss Justice Scalia’s provocative comments during last week’s oral argument in Fisher v. University of Texas. Amar and Schaps point out that viewed in the most charitable light, Justice Scalia’s comments are actually an attempt to articulate an academic theory—known as mismatch theory—not simply bare racism. Though the authors are not persuaded of mismatch theory, they critique Scalia’s assumption that truth of the theory would compel the abolition of affirmative action altogether.

Five (Somewhat) Unpredictable Aspects of this Week’s Oral Argument in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin

Illinois Law professor and dean Vikram David Amar describes five unusual aspects of this week’s oral argument in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, in which the Supreme Case is considering the role of affirmative action in university admissions.

The Return of the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission (AIRC) before the Supreme Court: The Harris v. AIRC Case Argued Next Week

University of Illinois College of Law dean and professor Vikram David Amar discusses a case in which the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments next week—Harris v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission. As Amar points out, that case lies at the intersection of many contentious aspects of 21st century American democracy, including dissatisfaction with elected officials, partisan zeal, racial equality, and federal–state relations.

When Does Congress’s Recognition of an Injury Count to the Supreme Court? Standing and the Spokeo v. Robins Case

Vikram David Amar, law professor and dean at Illinois Law, and Michael Schaps, a California civil litigation attorney, discuss Spokeo v. Robins, in which the U.S. Supreme Court will consider the nature of injury required for a plaintiff to avail herself of the federal court system. Specifically, Amar and Schaps describe the justices’ various perspectives on the issue and the possible origins and significance of these perspectives.

Why the Challenges to California’s Reproductive Fact Act Are Likely Unpersuasive

Vikram David Amar, dean and law professor at the University of Illinois College of Law, and Alan Brownstein, professor at UC Davis School of Law, examine a court challenge brought against a recently enacted California law regulating family planning clinics. Amar and Brownstein argue that the law should survive these constitutional challenges.

Four Specific Indicators to Look for (As Distinguished From Cases to Watch) This Supreme Court Term

Vikram David Amar, law professor and dean of the University of Illinois College of Law, identifies four key issues to watch in the Supreme Court’s 2015-2015 Term. As Amar discusses here, these issues center around: (1) public labor unions, (2) affirmative action, (3) abortion rights, and (4) the death penalty.

Arizona’s SB 1070 Immigration Law Is Back in Play in the Federal Courts

University of Illinois law professor and dean Vikram David Amar comments on a recent decision by a federal district court in Arizona addressing a challenge to two parts of Arizona’s SB 1070 statute, which attempts to deal with immigration stresses in that state. Amar argues that the court’s reasoning on both claims was confused and unpersuasive and that the results should have been inverted. That is, Amar suggests that the court should have upheld the equal protection challenge to the “Show Me Your Papers” provision and rejected the First Amendment challenge to the Day Laborer provisions.

A Preview of DIRECTV v. Imburgia: An Upcoming Case Before the Supreme Court Concerning Arbitration of Consumer Disputes

University of Illinois law professor and dean Vikram David Amar discusses an upcoming Supreme Court case in which the Court will consider to what extent consumer contracts that require disputes to be resolved by binding arbitration, rather than through formal litigation, are enforceable.

Locating the Problem of Race-Based Peremptory Challenges in a Broader Context: The Possibilities Raised by the Foster Case on the Court’s Docket

University of Illinois law professor and dean Vikram David Amar describes the problem of race-based peremptory challenges and argues that peremptory challenges be eliminated altogether on the grounds that we should not allow a person to be denied the right to serve on a jury for any reason that would not also suffice as a reason to deny that person the right to vote in an election.

UC Story: Parting Reflections as I Transition Away From the University of California

Law professor and dean designate of the University of Illinois College of Law Vikram David Amar reflects on his tenure as a professor and administrator at the University of California. While Amar extols the University as being the greatest public university system in the world, he highlights a few challenges that it faces as it moves forward.

The Prospects for Presidential Election Reform as the 2016 Campaign Season Gets Underway

Law professor and dean designate of the University of Illinois College of Law Vikram David Amar provides an update on the so-called National Popular Vote (NPV) interstate compact plan in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in Arizona Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission.