Akhil Amar is a professor of law at Yale University who once taught Brett Kavanaugh. When Kavanaugh was first nominated to the Supreme Court, Amar wrote a controversial op-ed in the New York Times endorsing his former student. But more recently, Amar has said he is having second thoughts and believes that President Trump should start preparing a back-up nominee.
Here’s what you need to know about Akhil Amar:
1. He Says the Allegations Against Kavanaugh Should Be Investigated and Taken Seriously
Amar wrote an article in the Yale Daily News on September 24, explaining his new position on Kavanaugh. He said that he stands behind what he said earlier about Kavanaugh’s “uniquely impressive judicial and scholarly record.” But he also said that the allegations against Kavanaugh are serious and should be thoroughly investigated.
Amar wrote, “now that serious accusations have arisen about his conduct in his teenage years, I believe that these accusations deserve the best and most professional investigation possible — even if that means a brief additional delay on the ultimate vote on Judge Kavanaugh, and even if that investigatory delay imperils his confirmation.”
Amar said that if there are still questions after Kavanaugh testifies in front of Congress, then the FBI should open an investigation. And he said that Trump should begin to look for a back-up nominee, in case the investigation turns up “compelling evidence” against Kavanaugh.
2. He Once Told the Senate Judiciary Committee that Kavanaugh Was the ‘Best Candidate on the Horizon’
On September 7, Amar testified in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee on behalf of Kavanaugh. You can read his full testimony here.
Amar told the committee that Kavanaugh was the best candidate on President Trump’s list of 25 possible nominees. Amar praised Kavanaugh’s diligence and intelligence, and his respect for the original meaning of the Constitution. He said that Kavanaugh’s writings reflected “respect for tradition and precedent.” He also said that Kavanaugh would get along well with the other justices.
Amar got in a little dig at Congress and the President during his testimony, too. He said, “The current justices are outstanding lawyers who do loads of close reading, careful writing, and deep thinking; try hard to see other points of view; spend lots of time pondering constitutional law; and spend little time posturing for cameras, dialing for dollars, tweeting snark, or pandering to uninformed extremists or arrogant donors. Can today’s President and Congress say the same?”
3. He Is a Liberal and Supported Hillary Clinton for President
Back in July, Amar published an op-ed in the New York Times endorsing Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court. You can read the op-ed here.
Amar titled his piece, “A Liberal’s Case for Brett Kavanaugh.” Amar said that he had “strongly supported” Hillary Clinton for president in 2016; he had also supported Barack Obama’s pick for the Supreme Court, Merick Garland. But Amar said that he also supported Kavanaugh.
He wrote, “today, with the exception of the current justices and Judge Garland, it is hard to name anyone with judicial credentials as strong as those of Judge Kavanaugh.”
Amar came forward on September 24 and said that in light of the allegations against Kavanaugh, there should be a thorough investigation before a vote can be taken on his confirmation.
4. Amar Is an Award-Winning Specialist in Constitutional Law
Amar graduated from Yale Law School in 1980. He went on to clerk for Stephen Breyer, who is now a Supreme Court justice. Amar then joined the law school faculty at the age of 26.
He specializes in constitutional law. He has won awards from the American Bar Association and the Federalist Society. He has been cited by Supreme Court justices and regularly testifies before Congress. According to his own biography, he is one of America’s five most-cited mid-career legal scholars.
He is the author of a number of books about the constitution, including The Constitution Today, published in 2016. Time Magazine named that book one of the year’s top ten works of non-fiction.
5. His Parents Immigrated from India to Michigan to Study Medicine
Amar was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan. His parents were medical students who had left their homes in India to study at the University of Michigan. Eventually, they both became US citizens — something which Amar described as a “very proud moment.”
He said that his wife also grew up in India and eventually became a US citizen — something which Amar said he witnessed happening.
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