AKHIL REED AMAR is a distinguished professor of law at Yale and Columbia universities and among the most insightful and prolific commentators on the American Constitution. In last three years alone, he has authored three books dealing with the US Constitution, all of which have been reviewed in LARB. In America’s Unwritten Constitution, Amar explored the myriad sources, written and otherwise, that inform the document’s meaning. LARB’s reviewer, Bryan Garner, himself a strong originalist, took exception to Amar’s thesis. The following year, Amar published The Law of the Land: A Grand Tour of Our Constitutional Republic, in which he examined regional differences in the interpretation and implementation of the Constitution throughout the United States. Our reviewer, the equally distinguished constitutional scholar Erwin Chemerinsky, found much common ground with Amar. In the fall of this year, we ran a review of Amar’s 2016 entry, The Constitution Today: Timeless Lessons for the Issues of Our Era; our reviewer Laura Brill praised it “as a Slate-style substitute for that Yale Law School seminar on Special Topics in Constitutional Law that most mere mortals never have a chance to take.”
Just prior to the national election, Amar spoke with LARB’s Legal Affairs editor, Don Franzen, about the topics of this new book, including some that have become tellingly relevant following the election’s outcome, such as the arcane Electoral College and the potential impact of the new president’s appointments to the Supreme Court.