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Akhil Amar to Speak at College of Law
Sep 28 2012 4:13PM

Akhil R. Amar
Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science
Yale University

October 9, 2012

Akhil Amar, Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science at Yale University, delivered the Roy and Virginia Ray lecture on October 9, 2012 at the University of Kentucky College of Law. Professor Amar’s remarks were based on his new book America’s Unwritten Constitution: The Precedents and Principles We Live By. His lecture summarized the twelve different contexts for constitutional interpretation that he discusses at length in his book. The lecture was preceded by an hour-long question-and-answer session with law students and followed by a book signing and reception and dinner with local state and federal judges. The College of Law is grateful for the gift from the Ray Foundation to make this lecture series possible.

Video of the event on our media page (video starts at 6:20).

More information about America's Unwritten Constitution:

The right to privacy. One person, one vote. The presumption of innocence. As Americans, we think of these freedoms – and many more – as our constitutional rights. But they can’t actually be found in the Constitution.

“While they’re not explicitly written in our Constitution, these things are part of America’s working constitutional system – part of America’s unwritten Constitution,” says renowned constitutional scholar Akhil Reed Amar. In his new book, America's Unwritten Constitution: The Precedents and Principles We Live By, Amar guides readers through the landmark cases, implicit principles, common practices, and more that make up our unwritten Constitution, showing how the written and unwritten Constitutions fit together to form a single system.

Going beneath, behind, and beyond the written Constitution, Amar shows that as we approach the 225th anniversary of the written document on September 17, we should also recognize the importance of its “unwritten” counterpart. “The written Constitution cannot work as intended without something outside of it – America’s unwritten Constitution – to fill in its gaps and to stabilize it,” Amar says. “In turn, America’s unwritten Constitution could never properly ignore the written Constitution, which is itself an integral part of the American experience.”


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