Yale University Law Professor Akhil Amar to present Dean’s Distinguished Lecture on April 15
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Office of Communications and Public Relations
February 26, 2014
Professor Akhil Amar, Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science at Yale University, will present the Dean’s Distinguished Lecture at 12:00 p.m. on Tuesday, April 15, in the Worrell Professional Center, Room 1312. His presentation will follow with a book signing for his most recent book, “America’s Unwritten Constitution: The Precedents and Principles We Live By.”
Despite its venerated place atop American law and politics, our written Constitution does not enumerate all of the rules and rights, principles and procedures that actually govern modern America. The document makes no explicit mention of cherished concepts like the separation of powers and the rule of law. On some issues, the plain meaning of the text misleads. For example, the text seems to say that the vice president presides over his own impeachment trial—but surely this cannot be right.
Esteemed legal scholar, Professor Amar, will be presenting and signing his book, “America’s Unwritten Constitution” at the Dean’s Distinguished Lecture. He explains in his book that the solution to many constitutional puzzles lies not solely within the written document, but beyond it—in the vast trove of values, precedents, and practices that complement and complete the terse text.
In this sequel to “America’s Constitution: A Biography,” Amar takes readers on a tour of our nation’s unwritten Constitution, showing how America’s foundational document cannot be understood in textual isolation.
Proper constitutional interpretation depends on a variety of factors, such as the precedents set by early presidents and Congresses; common practices of modern American citizens; venerable judicial decisions; and particularly privileged sources of inspiration and guidance, including the Federalist papers, William Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England, the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, and Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.
These diverse supplements are indispensible instruments for making sense of the written Constitution, and are extra textual aids that help support Amar’s case.
Professor Amar teaches constitutional law at both Yale College and Yale Law School.
He received his B.A, summa cum laude, in 1980 from Yale College, and his J.D. in 1984 from Yale Law School, where he served as an editor of The Yale Law Journal.
After clerking for Judge Stephen Breyer, U.S. Court of Appeals, 1st Circuit, Professor Amar joined the Yale faculty in 1985. Along with Dean Paul Brest and Professors Sanford Levinson, Jack Balkin, and Reva Siegel, Professor Amar is the co-editor of a leading constitutional law casebook, Processes of Constitutional Decisionmaking. He has written numerous books and articles on constitutional law subjects, including The Constitution and Criminal Procedure: First Principles (Yale Univ. Press, 1997), The Bill of Rights: Creation and Reconstruction (Yale Univ. Press, 1998), America’s Constitution: A Biography (Random House, 2005), and most recently, America’s Unwritten Constitution: The Precedents and Principles We Live By (Basic Books, 2012).