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Phelps Lecturer Tackles 'First Amendment Gumbo' April 11

March 05, 2018

Akhil Reed Amar

Constitutional scholar Akhil Reed Amar gets people stirred up over his ideas about the document. He’s been described as provocative yet “as comfortable across the table from Clarence Thomas as Stephen Colbert.”

Federal appellate Judge Richard Posner once called Amar “an entertaining writer” but an “idolater of the Constitution.”  

 In a 2016 Q&A, Time magazine pointed out his penchant for keeping copies of the Constitution in his pocket: “People died for these words, so we should have the words literally close to our hearts,” he said. 

On Wednesday, April 11, Amar explores “First Amendment Gumbo” at Tulane University Law School’s Ashton Phelps Lecture on First Amendment Law. The event, which is free and open to the public, is set for 4:30 p.m. in the Wendell H. Gauthier Moot Court Room 110 of John Giffen Weinmann Hall, 6329 Freret St.

Amar, the Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science at Yale University,  teaches constitutional law at both Yale College and Yale Law School. His work has won awards from both the American Bar Association and the Federalist Society, and in February, he received the American Bar Foundation’s annual Outstanding Scholar Award.

He also is frequently sought after in popular media as a constitutional authority and writes for publications including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, The Atlantic and Slate. He’s appeared on TV shows such as The Colbert Report, Charlie Rose and The O’Reilly Factor.

Amar received both his bachelor’s and law degrees from Yale and served as an editor of The Yale Law Journal. After clerking for then-Judge Stephen Breyer (now Supreme Court justice) on the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Amar joined the Yale faculty in 1985.

He is the co-editor of a leading constitutional law casebook, Processes of Constitutional Decisionmaking. He is also the author of several books, 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); America’s Unwritten Constitution: The Precedents and Principles We Live By (Basic Books, 2012); and The Law of the Land: A Grand Tour of our Constitutional Republic (Basic Books, 2015). Time named his 2016 book The Constitution Today: Timeless Lessons for the Issues of Our Era one of the top 10 nonfiction books of the year.

The Phelps Lecture Series was started in 1992 to honor Ashton Phelps Sr. (L ’37), who practiced at Phelps, Dunbar, Marks, Claverie & Sims, served as publisher of The Times-Picayune and was vice chairman of Tulane’s Board of Administrators. The lecture, which is dedicated to First Amendment law and related issues, operates under the direction of the Ashton Phelps Chair of Constitutional Law, established in 1983 by the S.I. Newhouse Foundation and The Times-Picayune.


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