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Prof. Akhil Amar Wins ABA Silver Gavel Award for America’s Constitution

Akhil Reed Amar '84, Southmayd Professor of Law and Political Science, has won the American Bar Association’s Silver Gavel Award for his book America’s Constitution: A Biography (Random House, 2005).

Given annually since 1958, the Silver Gavel Awards recognize works that help foster public understanding of the law and legal system. As its title suggests, America’s Constitution is a "biography" of America’s framing document, explaining what the Constitution says and why it says it through the interdisciplinary lenses of law, political science, and history.

Amar’s inspiration for the book was two-fold. As a child of Indian immigrants, Amar grew up with a fascination for American history, government, and law—that interest ultimately inspired him to tell the story of his native land by way of its Constitution. The book’s other driving force was Amar’s work in Yale’s classrooms. After teaching constitutional law for nearly two decades, Amar wrote America’s Constitution in order to provide his students with an ambitious, comprehensive, and readable guide to the Constitution.

“I am very gratified that an association of real-life lawyers—as distinct from mere academics like myself—has found my work of interest,” Amar said about the Silver Gavel Award. “While I am often flattered to be cited by fellow academics, I do get a special thrill when practicing lawyers and judges tell me that they have found my work useful in the trenches,” he added.

Amar and former Yale Law School Dean Guido Calabresi (Sterling Professor Emeritus of Law and Professorial Lecturer in Law) are among a handful of people who have been recognized with a Silver Gavel Award more than once. Amar’s book The Bill of Rights: Creation and Reconstruction (Yale University Press, 1998) won the award in 1999.

Amar will be honored by the ABA at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. on July 25.