Akhil Reed Amar

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Akhil Reed Amar
Prof. Akhil Reed Amar (cropped).png
Amar in 2011
Born (1958-09-06) September 6, 1958 (age 63)
Academic background
Alma materYale University (BA, JD)
Academic work
InstitutionsYale Law School
Columbia Law School
University of Pennsylvania Law School
Notable studentsJohn Yoo
Neal Katyal
Chris Coons
Michael Bennet
Jake Sullivan
Cory Booker
Sarah Cleveland
Cyrus Habib
Josh Hawley
Stephanos Bibas
Stephen A. Higginson
Jill A. Pryor
William J. Nardini
Neera Tanden
Jeffrey Rosen
Brian Deese
Steven Engel
Rob Bonta
Alex Azar
Candace Jackson-Akiwumi

Akhil Reed Amar (born September 6, 1958) is an American legal scholar known for his expertise in constitutional law and criminal procedure. He holds the position of Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science at Yale University.[1] A Legal Affairs poll placed Amar among the top 20 contemporary US legal thinkers.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

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 has two brothers, one of whom, Vikram Amar, also became a law professor and serves as dean of the University of Illinois College of Law.[4] Amar graduated from Las Lomas High School in Walnut Creek, California, in 1976.[5]

Amar attended Yale University, where he double majored in history and economics. He was a member of the Yale Debate Association and won its Thacher Memorial Prize, and won the Louis Laun Award for excellence in economics. Amar graduated from Yale in 1980 with a Bachelor of Arts summa cum laude. He then attended the Yale Law School, where he was an editor of the Yale Law Journal and graduated with a Juris Doctor in 1984.


After law school, Amar clerked from 1984 to 1985 for Judge Stephen Breyer of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, who later became a U.S. Supreme Court Justice. He interviewed for a clerkship on the United States Supreme Court with Justice John Paul Stevens, but was not offered the role.

Amar then joined the faculty of the Yale Law School in 1985, where he has remained ever since.

Amar is the author of numerous publications and books, most recently The Words That Made Us: America's Constitutional Conversation, 1760-1840. Justices across the spectrum on the Supreme Court have cited his work in over forty cases--tops in his generation. In surveys of judicial citations and/or scholarly citations, he invariably ranks among America’s five most-cited mid-career legal scholars.

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 5.[6]

Amar has repeatedly served as a Visiting Professor of Law at Pepperdine School of Law and at Columbia Law School and was recently a visiting professor at University of Pennsylvania Law School. He has also lectured for One Day University. 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 978-0-465-02957-0
  • The Bill of Rights Primer: A Citizen's Guidebook to the American Bill of Rights (with L. Adams) (2013) ISBN 978-1-62087-572-8
  • The Law of the Land: A Grand Tour of Our Constitutional Republic (2015) ISBN 978-0-465-06590-5
  • The Constitution Today: Timeless Lessons for the Issues of Our Era (2016) ISBN 978-0-465-09633-6
  • The Words that Made Us: America's Constitutional Conversation, 1760-1840 (2021) ISBN 978-0-465-09635-0

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Tam, Derek (November 7, 2008). "Amar Earns Sterling Rank". Yale Daily News. Retrieved March 4, 2015.
  2. ^ "Who Are the Top 20 Legal Thinkers in America?". Legal Affairs. Retrieved July 4, 2008.
  3. ^ "Akhil Reed Amar: "America's Unwritten Constitution"". The Diane Rehm Show. Washington, DC. September 13, 2012. National Public Radio. WAMU. Transcript.
  4. ^ "Vikram David Amar". University of Illinois College of Law. 2016. Retrieved March 23, 2016.
  5. ^ "Obama Names Yale Professor to Key Administration Post". India-West. May 20, 2015. Retrieved June 29, 2017.
  6. ^ "5.10: The Stormy Present (with Bellamy Young)". The West Wing Weekly. Retrieved 2019-11-16.
  7. ^ "Book of Members, 1780-2010: Chapter A" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Archived (PDF) from the original on May 10, 2011. Retrieved April 17, 2011.
  8. ^ Kaplan, Thomas (February 7, 2008). "Gravel's justice of choice: Amar". Yale Daily News. Archived from the original on October 24, 2008. Retrieved June 29, 2017.

External links[edit]