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Akhil Amar

Akhil Reed Amar
Born (1958-09-06) September 6, 1958
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Nationality United States
Fields Constitutional law, Criminal procedure, Federal jurisdiction, Legal history
Institutions Yale Law School
Alma mater Yale University
Notable students John Yoo
Neal Katyal
Chris Coons
Michael Bennet
Jake Sullivan

Akhil Reed Amar (born September 6, 1958) is an American legal scholar, an expert on constitutional law and criminal procedure. Formerly the Southmayd Professor of Law at Yale Law School, he was named Sterling Professor of Law in 2008.[1] A Legal Affairs poll placed Amar among the top 20 contemporary US legal thinkers.[2]


  • Life and career 1
  • Books 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5

Life and career

Amar was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan where his parents were medical students from India studying at the University of Michigan. His parents later became U.S. citizens. [3] He graduated from Las Lomas High School in Walnut Creek, California in 1976.[4] His brother, Vikram Amar, is a law professor and the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at the UC Davis School of Law (King Hall).

Amar is a summa cum laude graduate of Yale College (B.A., 1980) and a graduate of the Yale Law School (J.D. 1984), where he was an editor of the Yale Law Journal. Amar clerked for now-U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer when he was a judge on the First Circuit Court of Appeals.

Amar is the author of numerous publications and books, most recently America's Unwritten Constitution: The Precedents and Principles We Live By. The Supreme Court has cited his work in over twenty cases, including the landmark 1998 decision in Clinton v. City of New York, which ruled the presidential line-item veto unconstitutional.[1] In their book For the People: What the Constitution Really Says About Your Rights, Amar and Alan Hirsch introduce a variation on the four boxes of liberty theme often quoted by conservatives opposed to gun control. Discussing the American Constitution, they assert that the ideal of citizenship generates four "boxes" of rights. The first three are the ballot box, jury box and cartridge box. To these, with some reservations, they add the lunch box: the idea of a social safety net that supports basic physical and educational needs.[5][6]

Amar was a consultant to the television show The West Wing, on which the character Josh Lyman refers to him in an episode in Season Five. His course on constitutional law is one of the most popular undergraduate offerings at Yale College.

Amar spent the Fall 2010 semester as a Visiting Professor of Law at Pepperdine School of Law and was also named the B.R. Ambedkar Professor of Indian Constitutional Law at Columbia Law School in April 2010. He has also lectured for One Day University. He was a Visiting Professor of Law at Suffolk University Law School during the Fall 2006 semester. He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2007.[7]

In 2008, U.S. presidential candidate Mike Gravel said that he would name Amar to the Supreme Court if elected President.[8]


  • The Constitution and Criminal Procedure: First Principles (1997) ISBN 0-300-06678-3
  • For the People (with A. Hirsch) (1997) ISBN 0-684-87102-5
  • The Bill of Rights: Creation and Reconstruction (1998) ISBN 0-300-07379-8
  • Processes of Constitutional Decisionmaking (ed. with P. Brest, S. Levinson, and J.M. Balkin), (2000) ISBN 0-7355-5062-X
  • America's Constitution: A Biography (2005) ISBN 1-4000-6262-4
  • America's Unwritten Constitution: The Precedents and Principles We Live By (2012) ISBN 978-0465029570
  • The Law of the Land: A Grand Tour of Our Constitutional Republic (2015) ISBN 978-0465065905

See also


  1. ^ a b Tam, Derek (2008-11-07). "Amar earns Sterling rank". Yale Daily News. 
  2. ^ "Who Are the Top 20 Legal Thinkers in America?". Legal Affairs. Archived from the original on 24 May 2008. Retrieved 2008-07-04. 
  3. ^ "Akhil Reed Amar: "America's Unwritten Constitution"".  
  4. ^ "From Walnut Creek to the West Wing" (PDF). Walnut Creek Library Foundation ( 
  5. ^ Akhil Reed Amar, Alan Hirsch (1999). For the People: What the Constitution Really Says About Your Rights. Simon & Schuster.  
  6. ^ Cass R Sunstein (Sep 28, 1998). "Originalism for Liberals".  
  7. ^ "Book of Members, 1780-2010: Chapter A" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Archived (PDF) from the original on 10 May 2011. Retrieved 17 April 2011. 
  8. ^ Kaplan, Thomas (2008-02-07). "Gravel’s justice of choice: Amar". Yale Daily News. 

External links

  • Yale Law School bio
  • Columbia Law School
  • Columbia Law School biography
  • Views on the Supreme Court
  • Gravel's Justice of Choice
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