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 the Supreme Court’s Arizona Redistricting Ruling Means for Presidential (Not Just Congressional) Election Reform

UC Davis law professor Vikram David Amar comments on the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision holding that “legislature”—as used in the Elections Clause of Article I, Section 4, of the Constitution—includes within its definition the people of a state undertaking direct democracy.

What the Supreme Court Should Have Said in the Confederate Flag Texas License Plate Case

UC Davis law professor Vikram David Amar discusses the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in Walker v. Texas Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans, Inc., in which the Court held that Texas could, consistent with the First Amendment, reject a specialty license plate design application due to its prominent use of the Confederate battle flag. Amar argues that the Court’s reasoning might lead to problems in future disputes and offers a different rationale for reaching the same result that would have avoided such problems.

Some Preliminary Thoughts on the Lawsuits and Protests by Asian Groups and Individuals Alleging Unfair Treatment by College Admissions Offices

UC Davis law professor Vikram David Amar addresses some initial criticism of discrimination lawsuits filed by Asian groups and individuals against Harvard and the University of North Carolina for alleged unfair treatment in admissions. Without predicting where the litigations will ultimately lead, Amar identifies and debunks three flawed arguments against the lawsuits.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

How Prospective Law Students Can Make Better Use of the U.S. News Law School Rankings That Are About to Be Released

U.C. Davis law professor Vikram David Amar and guest columnist and dean of UC Davis law school Kevin R. Johnson offer five ways in which law students might better use the U.S. News law school rankings when they are released.

Just How Lawless Are the Alabama State Court Judges Who Have Been Refusing to Issue Same-Sex Marriage Licenses?

U.C. Davis law professor Vikram David Amar discusses the current controversy in Alabama over whether state court judges must issue same-sex marriage licenses pursuant to an order to a federal district judge sitting in that state.

Why the Supreme Court Should Reject the Arizona Legislature’s Challenge to the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission

U.C. Davis law professor Vikram David Amar evaluates the merits of the arguments of the Arizona legislature in its Supreme Court challenge to the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission.

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.