Vikram D. Amar

Portrait photo of Vikram Amar.

Position Title
Distinguished Professor of Law


Vikram Amar returned to UC Davis as a Distinguished Professor of Law in 2023 after serving as the dean and the Iwan Foundation Professor of Law at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign College of Law since 2015. Directly before that he was a Professor and the Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at King Hall, from 2008 to 2015. Amar has also taught law at Berkeley School of Law, Hastings College of Law and UCLA School of Law.   

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 more than 60 articles in leading law reviews. He is a co-author (along with Akhil Reed Amar) of the upcoming revised multi-volume Treatise on Constitutional Law (West Publishing Co.) pioneered by Ron Rotunda and John Nowak. He is also a co-author (along with Jonathan Varat and Evan Caminker) of Constitutional Law: Cases and Materials (Foundation Press, 16th ed. 2021), a co-author on multiple volumes of the Wright & Miller Federal Practice and Procedure Treatise (West Publishing), and a co-author (along with John Oakley) of a one-volume treatise on American Civil Procedure (Kluwer, 2008). He writes a biweekly column on constitutional matters for, for several years wrote a monthly column on legal education for, is a frequent commentator on local and national radio and TV, and has penned dozens of op-ed pieces for major newspapers and magazines.

A strong proponent of public and professional engagement, Amar is an elected member of the American Law Institute and has served as a consultant for, among others, the National Association of Attorneys General, the United States Department of Justice, the California Attorney General’s Office, the ACLU of Southern California, and the Center for Civic Education. For one year he chaired the Civil Procedure Section of the Association of American Law Schools.

Amar earned his bachelor’s degree from UC Berkeley and his juris doctor from Yale Law School, where he was an articles editor for the Yale Law Journal. He then clerked for Judge William A. Norris of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and for Justice Harry A. Blackmun of the United States Supreme Court before joining Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, where he handled a variety of complex civil and white-collar criminal matters. It appears that Professor 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. Follow Dean Amar’s bi-weekly column on and read archived posts from his column.

Education and Degree(s)
  • J.D., Yale University, 1988
  • A.B. History, University of California, Berkeley, 1985
Honors and Awards
  • Has Taught at UC Berkeley, UCLA, and UC Hastings Law Schools
  • Served as a Law Clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun
  • Joined the Cohen and Varat Constitutional Law Casebook in 2003
  • Appointed Associate Dean on July 1, 2008
  • Has written biweekly online column since 2001
  • Joined the Wright & Miller Federal Practice Treatise in 2000
  • Received the ACLU of Southern California Distinguished Professor Award in 1997
  • Practiced at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher
  • Served as an Articles Editor for the Yale Law Journal
Research Interests & Expertise
  • Constitutional Law
  • Civil Procedure (Including Civil Litigation And Complex Litigation)
  • Criminal Law And Procedure
  • Remedies
  • Appellate Advocacy


FEDERAL PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE, JURISDICTION 3D Vol.17, with Charles A. Wright, Arthur R. Miller and Edward H. Cooper, St. Paul: Thomson/West, 2006

FEDERAL PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE, JURISDICTION 3D Vol.17A, with Charles A. Wright, Arthur R. Miller and Edward H. Cooper, St. Paul: Thomson/West, 2006

FEDERAL PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE, JURISDICTION 3D Vol.17B, with Charles A. Wright, Arthur R. Miller and Edward H. Cooper, St. Paul: Thomson/West, 2006

CONSTITUTIONAL LAW: CASES AND MATERIALS, with William Cohen and Jonathan D. Varat, 13th ed., Westbury N.Y.: Foundation Press, 2009

CONCISE EDITION OF CONSTITUTIONAL LAW: CASES AND MATERIALS, with William Cohen and Jonathan D. Varat, 13th ed., Westbury, N.Y.: Foundation Press, 2009


GLOBAL PERSPECTIVES ON CONSTITUTIONAL LAW, with Mark Tushnet, Oxford University Press, 2009

American Civil Procedure in R. Planpain ed., INTERNATIONAL ENCYCLOPAEDIA OF LAWS - CIVIL PROCEDURE 2d ed., with John B. Oakley, Wolters Kluwer Law & Business, 2009

The Case for Reforming Presidential Elections by Sub-Constitutional Means: The Electoral College, the National Popular Vote Compact and Congressional Power, 100 GEORGETOWN L.J. 237 (2011)

Reviewing Association Freedom Claims in a Limitied Public Forum: An Extension of the Distinction Between Debate-Dampening and Debate-Distorting State Action, 35 HASTINGS CONST. L.Q. 505 (2011) (with Alan Brownstein) (symposium on Christian Legal Society v. Hastings case)

Afterthoughts on Snyder v. Phelps, 2011 CARDOZO L. REV. de novo 43 (2011) (with Alan Brownstein) (collection of reactions to Snyder v. Phelps case)

The NCAA as Regulator, Litigant, and State Actor, 52 B.C. L. REV. 415 (2011)

How Senate Confirmation Hearings Should Better Educate Senators and the American Public: The Instructional Necessity of Case-Specific Questioning, 61 HASTINGS L.J. 1407 (2010)

Reflections on the Doctrinal and Big-Picture Issues Raised by the Constitutional Challenges to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), 6 FLA. INT'L L. REV. 9 (2010) (symposium on healthcare challenges)

Death, Grief, and Freedom of Speech: Does the First Amendment Permit Protection Against the Harassment and Commandeering of Funeral Mourners?, 2010 CARDOZO L. REV. DE NOVO 368 (2010) (with Alan Brownstein).

The First Amendment in the 2009 Term: It’s All About How You Frame It, 37 PREVIEW U.S. SUP. CT. CAS. 8 (2010).

California Constitutional Conundrums - State Constitutional Quirks, Exposed by the Same-Sex Marriage Experience, 40 RUTGERS L.J. 741 (2009) (invited endowed Lecture)

Lessons From California's Unusual Non-Unitary Executive Branch, 59 EMORY L.J. 469 (2009) (included in symposium issue)

When Avoiding Federal Questions Shouldn't Evade Federal Review , 12 GREEN BAG 2D 2d 381 (2009) (with Alan Brownstein)

Morse, Originalism, and School Speech, 41 U.C. DAVIS L. REV. 637  (2009) (symposium issue)

Business and Constitutional Originalism in the Roberts Court, 49 SANTA CLARA L. REV. 979 (2009) (symposium on the Roberts Court)

When Does a Plaintiff Have Standing to Challenge Religious Displays on Public Land?, 37 PREVIEW U.S. SUP. CT. CAS. 1 (2009) (with Whitney E. Clark)

Direct Democracy and Article II: Additional Thoughts on Initiatives and Presidential Elections, 35 HASTINGS CONST. L. Q. 631 (2008) (symposium on election law)

Are Statutes Constraining Gubernatorial Power to Make Temporary Appointments to the Senate Constitutional Under the Seventeenth Amendment?, 35 HASTINGS CONST. L. Q. 737 (2008) (symposium issue)

An Enigmatic Court? Examining the Roberts Court as it Begins Year Three: Criminal Justice, 35 PEPPERDINE L. REV. 523 (2008) (symposium on the Roberts Court at three years)

Rewriting the Constitution's Basic "Structural" Provisions: When a Constitutional Convention for Electoral Change is Necessary, and What it Might be Expected to Accomplish, 7 ELECTION L. J. 245 (2008) (reviewing Levinson, OUR UNDEMOCRATIC CONSTITUTION: WHERE THE CONSTITUTION GOES WRONG (AND HOW WE THE PEOPLE CAN CORRECT IT) (2006) and Sabato, A MORE PERFECT CONSTITUTION: 23 PROPOSALS TO REVITALIZE OUR CONSTITUTION AND MAKE AMERICA A FAIRER COUNTRY (2007))

Does the Military Commissions Act of 2006 Violate the Suspension Clause?, 35 PREVIEW U.S. SUP. CT. CAS. 3 (2007) (with Whitney E. Clark).

Academic Freedom, 9 GREEN BAG 2D 17 (2005) (with Alan E. Brownstein)

Implementing an Historical Vision of the Jury im an Age of Administrative Factfinding and Sentencing Guidelines, 47 S. Tex. L. Tev. 291 (2005) (symposium on juries)

Must Parental Notification Laws Contain a Health Exception?, 2005 PREVIEW U.S. SUP. CT. CAS. ISSUE 2 (2005) (with K. O'Donnell) (solicited case comment).

May the Attorney General Sanction Physicians Who Comply with Oregon's Death with Dignity Act?, 2005 PREVIEW U.S. SUP. CT. CAS. ISSUE 1 (2005)(with K. O'Donnell) (solicited case comment).

Why the Case in Favor of a Federal Constitutional Amendment to Prohibit or Regulate Gay Marriage is ‘Not Proved’, 32 HASTINGS CONST. L. Q. 637 (2005) (with Alan Brownstein) (symposium on same-sex marriage)

Bias and the Problem of Peremptory Challenges, 5 INSIGHTS ON LAW AND SOCIETY 16 (2005) (solicited essay)

Adventures in Direct Democracy: Constitutional Lessons from the California Recall Experience, 92 CAL. L. REV. 927 (2004).

The Cheney Decision: A Missed Chance to Straighten Out Some Muddled Issues, 2004 CATO SUP. CT. REV. 185 (2004).

Lower Court Obedience & the Ninth Circuit, 7 GREEN BAG 2ND 315 (2004).

The Converse Section 1983 Law in Which States Police Federal Agents: An Idea Whose Time has Arrived, 69 BROOK. L. REV. 1369 (2004) (symposium on federalism)

How Much Protection Do Injunctions Against Enforcement of Allegedly Unconstitutional Statutes Provide?, 31 FORDHAM URB. L. J. 657 (2004) (Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act Symposium Issue).

Case At a Glance: Wine Importation and the Constitution, 2004 PREVIEW U.S. SUP. CT. CAS. 3 (2004) (with Will Trachman) (solicited case comment).

Case At a Glance: The Meaning of Blakely in Booker and Fanfan, 2004 PREVIEW U.S. SUP. CT. CAS. 2 (2004) (solicited case comment).

Case At a Glance: Rasul and Al Odah, 2003 PREVIEW U.S. SUP. CT. CAS. 7 (2004) (solicited case comment).

Federalism in the 2003 Term – Revisiting Some Old Battles and Setting Up Some New Ones, 2003 PREVIEW U.S. SUP. CT. CAS. ISSUE 8 (2003).

Back to the Future: Minority Groups and the Supreme Court's October 2002 Term, 2002 PREVIEW U.S. SUP. CT. CAS. 9 (2003) (solicited review essay).

Constitutional Sunsetting?: Justice O'Connor's Closing Comments in Grutter, 30 HASTINGS CONST. L.Q. 541, (2003) (with Evan Caminker) (symposium on the Grutter case)

The Many Ways to Prove Discrimination: A Review of Ian Ayres' Pervasive Prejudice?, 14 HASTINGS WOMEN'S L.J. 171 (2003) (reviewing Ayers, PERVASIVE PREJUDICE?: UNCONVENTIONAL EVIDENCE OF RACE AND GENDER DISCRIMINATION (2001)).

The New ‘New Federalism’: The Supreme Court in Hibbs (and Guillen), 6 GREEN BAG 2D 349 (2003).

Reasonable Accommodations Under the ADA, 5 GREEN BAG 2D 361 (2002) (with Alan Brownstein).

The New Regulations Allowing Federal Agents to Monitor Attorney-Client Conversations: Why It Threatens Fourth Amendment Values, 34 CONN. L. REV.1163 (2002) (Symposium Issue).

Conduct Unbecoming a Coordinate Branch: the Supreme Court in Garrett, 4 GREEN BAG 2D 351 (2001) (with Samuel Estreicher).

Bush v. Gore and Article II: Pressured Judgment Makes Dubious Law, 48 FED. LAW. 27 (2001) (with Alan Brownstein) (solicited essay).

Of Hobgoblins and Equality: The Equal Protection Vision of Justice O’Connor, 32 MCGEORGE L. REV. 1 (2001) (symposium on Justice O'Connor's jurisprudence)

The 20th Century – The Amendment and Populist Century, 47 FED. LAW. 32 (2000) (solicited essay).

The People Made Me Do It: Can the People of the States Instruct and Coerce Their State Legislatures in the Article V Constitutional Amendment Process?, 41 WM. & MARY L. REV. 1037 (2000)

From Watergate to Ken Starr: Potter Stewart’s “Or of the Press” a Quarter Century Later, 50 HASTINGS L.J. 711 (1999) (Anniversary Issue).

Some Questions and Answers Concerning Justice Blackmun in Federalism and Separation of Powers Cases, 26 HASTINGS CONST. L.Q. 153 (1999) (symposium on Justice Blackmun's jurisprudence)

State Religious Freedom Restoration Acts and the Employment Setting, 32 U.C. DAVIS L. REV. 513 (1999) (symposium on state law religious protections)

The Role of the People in Presidential Impeachment, ACADEMY OF ARTS AND SCIENCES BULLETIN (March 1999) (solicited essay).

The Hybrid Nature of Political Rights, 50 STAN. L. REV. 915 (1998) (with A. Brownstein).

Recent Cases: Reflections on the 209 Litigation, 5 ASIAN L.J. 323 (1998) (solicited case comment).

The Truth, the Whole Truth and Nothing but the Truth About “High Crimes and Misdemeanors” and the Presidential Impeachment Process, 16 CONST. COMMENTARY 403 (1999) (reviewing Coulter, HIGH CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS (1998)).

The Hunter Doctrine and Proposition 209: A Reply to Thomas Wood, 24 HASTINGS CONST. L.Q. 1001 (1997) (with E. Caminker) (response essay).

Indirect Effects of Direct Election: A Structural Examination of the Seventeenth Amendment, 49 VAND. L. REV. 1347 (1996).

Foreword: Symposium on Developments in Free Speech Doctrine, 29 U.C. DAVIS L. REV. 465 (1996).

Unlocking the Jury Box, 77 POLICY REVIEW. 38 (1996) (with Akhil Amar).

Equal Protection, Unequal Political Burdens, and the CCRI, 23 HASTINGS CONST. L.Q. 1019 (1996) (with E. Caminker) (Proposition 209 Symposium Issue).

Some Questions about Perfectionist Rationality Review, 45 HASTINGS L.J. 1029 (1994) (Balancing in Constitutional Adjudication Symposium Issue).

Is the Presidential Succession Law Constitutional?, 48 STAN. L. REV. 113 (1995) (with A. Amar)

Jury Service as Political Participation Akin to Voting, 80 CORNELL L. REV. 203 (1995).

President Quayle?, 78 VA. L. REV. 913 (1992) (with A. Amar).

Voting Rights, in J. Ehrlich ed., THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES, (London, New York: Routledge) (2006)

Ballot Initiatives, in J. Ehrlich., THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES, (London, New York: Routledge) (2006)

What's Wrong with the Modern Jury, in Rosemary Passantino, Lawrence Lessig & Vikram Amar, eds., THE BEST AMERICAN LEGAL COMMENTARY 2005 (Boca Raton, Fla.: Universal Publishers, 2005).

Why Old and New Arguments for the Electoral College Are Not Compelling, in John C. Fortier & Walter Berns, eds., AFTER THE PEOPLE VOTE: A GUIDE TO THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE (3d ed., Washington, D.C.: AEI Press, 2004) (with A. Amar).

Jury Service and Jury Discrimination, in Roger K. Newman ed., THE CONSTITUTION AND ITS AMENDMENTS (New York: Macmillan Reference USA, 1999).

The Constitution and Juries, in Roger K. Newman ed., THE CONSTITUTION AND ITS AMENDMENTS (New York: Macmillan Reference USA, 1999).

Groups and Political Rights, in Roger K. Newman ed., THE CONSTITUTION AND ITS AMENDMENTS (New York: Macmillan Reference USA, 1999).

Reforming the Jury System Would Improve the Criminal Justice System, in Jill Karson, ed., CRIMINAL JUSTICE: OPPOSING VIEWPOINTS (San Diego, Calif.: Greenhaven Press, 1998) (with A. Amar).

Prop. 8 Case Likely Heading to Supreme Court, SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, Nov. 18, 2011

THE PROPOSITION 8 RULING: Ninth Circuit at center stage in Prop. 8 appeal, SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, Aug. 8, 2010

Alan Brownstein and Vikram Amar, Finding common ground in same-sex marriage debate, SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, May 28, 2009 (with Alan Brownstein)

Ready to split the ticket? Why can’t we ignore the parties’ VP options and elect Obama and Palin, or McCain and Biden?, LOS ANGELES TIMES, Oct. 22, 2008

Vikram Amar and Richard H. Sander, A mismatch effect? Affirmative action policies need closer study to see if they have a negative effect on minority law school students, LOS ANGELES TIMES, Sept. 26, 2007

Split Decision: Voter Selection of the Vice President, 24 WASH. MONTHLY No. 11, Nov. 1992, at 22 (with A. Amar).

Who's the Real Alito?, L.A. TIMES, at M3.

A Third Option on Gay Marriage, S. F. CHRON., at B7 (with Ethan Leib).

The Roberts Hearings? Blah, and More Blah, SAN JOSE MERC. NEWS, at PE.

Casing John Roberts, N. Y. TIMES, at A1 (reprinted in many other papers throughout the country).

A Primer on Rules of Confirmation, SAN JOSE MERC. NEWS, at 1P.

Judges Rule: Legislating From the Bench, L.A. TIMES, at M1 (reprinted in many other papers throughout the country).

The Electoral College Votes Against Equality, L.A. TIMES, Sept. 8, 2004, at B11 (with A. Amar)

Better to Avoid Mistakes Than Make Amends, L.A. TIMES, at M3.

A Chance to Judge the Judges: The Ninth Circuit's Performance in the Recall Case, SAN JOSE MERC. NEWS, at P1.

The Ninth Circuit May Stand Unjustly Accused, L. A. TIMES, at B17.

Life After 9/11: The Golden Rule of Racial Profiling, L.A. TIMES, at M2.

No Reason to Shelve the Dog-Mauling Case, L.A. TIMES, at M2 (with A. Amar).

Security: When Racial Profiling is Appropriate, L.A. TIMES, at M2.

How Do You Think?: Ideology and the Judicial Nominee, LEGAL TIMES, at 50, col. 1.

The Judicial Nomination Game, SAN JOSE MERC. NEWS, at C1.

The Bush v. Gore Ruling in Perspective, SAN JOSE MERC. NEWS, at C3 (with Roger Park).

What Are the Supremes Up To?, S. F. RECORDER, at 4.

The Perils of Changing Election Rules Before the Votes are Counted, L.A. TIMES, M1

The Will of the People and the Presidential Election, SAN JOSE MERC. NEWS, at C1.

Naming Justices: More is at Stake Than Roe v. Wade, L. A. TIMES, at M2 (with Alan Brownstein).

10 Things We Learned from Starr, L. A. TIMES, at M1 (with Akhil Amar).

At Breakfast with Blackmun; His Law Clerks Remember the Late Justice, LEGAL TIMES 11, col. 1 (with Sharp, Rothfeld, Moore, McDaniel, & Alden, Jr.).

Debunking the Myths of Impeachment, THE S.F. RECORDER, at 5.