Jonathan D. Varat

Professor of Law Emeritus
Dean Emeritus

  • B.A. University of Pennsylvania, 1967
  • J.D. University of Pennsylvania, 1972
  • UCLA Law faculty since 1976

Jonathan Varat has taught Constitutional Law I & II, Federal Courts, and Separation of Powers. From 2016-19, the Chancellor recalled him to serve as Chief Liaison between UCLA and the Greater Los Angeles Veterans Administration. He was awarded the School of Law's Rutter Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1990. He served twice as Associate Dean of the law school and as its Dean from 1998 – 2003. Professor Varat is co-author of a major constitutional law casebook, Constitutional Law: Cases and Materials (with Amar and Caminker, 2021), and is an expert on federal courts. His scholarship focuses particularly on constitutional federalism and freedom of speech.

Professor Varat was schooled in Philadelphia and spent a two-year stint in the U.S. Army between his second and third years of law school in a variety of less-than-desirable locations. Thereafter, he clerked for Judge Walter Mansfield of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and Justice Byron White of the U.S. Supreme Court. He then practiced as a litigator for two years with O'Melveny & Myers before joining the law faculty. Among his nonacademic interests is long-distance running.


  • Books
    • Constitutional Law: Cases and Materials (with Vikram Amar and Evan Caminker). 16th ed. Foundation Press (2021). Prior editions: 15th, 2017 (with Vikram Amar); 14th, 2013 (with William Cohen and Vikram Amar); 13th, 2009; 12th, 2005; 11th, 2001; 10th, 1997; 9th, 1993; and 8th (with Edward L. Barrett, Jr. and William Cohen), 1989. Annual supplements: 1989-2021.
  • Articles And Chapters
    • Truth, Courage, and Other Human Dispositions: Reflections on Falsehoods and the First Amendment, 71 Oklahoma Law Review 35 (2018).
    • Supreme Court Foreword, October Term 2011: Federalism Points and the Sometime Recognition of Essential Federal Power, 46 Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review 411 (2013). Full Text
    • Deception and the First Amendment: A Central, Complex, and Somewhat Curious Relationship, 53 UCLA Law Review 1107-41 (2006).
    • Federalism and Preemption in October Term 1999, 28 Pepperdine Law Review 757-86 (2000).
    • Transporting First Amendment Norms to the Private Sector: With Every Wish There Comes a Curse (by Julian N. Eule, as completed by Jonathan D. Varat), 45 UCLA Law Review 1537-1634 (1998). Symposium: Voices of the People: Essays on Constitutional Democracy in Memory of Professor Julian N. Eule.
    • When May Government Prefer One Source of Private Expression Over Another?, 45 UCLA Law Review 1645-51 (1998). Symposium: Voices of the People: Essays on Constitutional Democracy in Memory of Professor Julian N. Eule.
    • Determining the Mission and Size of the Federal Judiciary Via a Three-Branch Process, 27 Connecticut Law Review 885-910 (1995).
    • Contributor, in Encyclopedia of the American Constitution: Supplement I and 1st ed., (edited by Leonard W. Levy, Kenneth L. Karst et al., Macmillan, 1992, 1986).
    • Reflections on the Establishment of Constitutional Government in Eastern Europe, 9 Constitutional Commentary 171-87 (1992).
    • Economic Integration and Interregional Migration in the United States Federal System, in Comparative Constitutional Federalism: Europe and America, 21-65 (edited by Mark Tushnet, Greenwood Press, 1990).
    • Justice White and the Breadth and Allocation of Federal Authority, 58 University of Colorado Law Review 371-427 (1987).
    • Review Essay: Economic Ideology and the Federal Judicial Task, 74 California Law Review 649-74 (1986). Reviewing The Federal Courts: Crisis and Reform, by Richard A. Posner.
    • State “Citizenship” and Interstate Equality, 48 University of Chicago Law Review 487-572 (1981).
    • Variable Justiciability and the Duke Power Case, 58 Texas Law Review 273-327 (1980).
  • Other
    • Gary Schwartz: A UCLA Original, 50 UCLA Law Review 255-57 (2002).
    • Dean Jonathan D. Varat's response (The Supreme Court's Most Extraordinary Term, 1999-2000), 28 Pepperdine Law Review 633-39 (2001). Response to article by Akhil Reed Amar, p. 601.
    • Ken Karst: A Personal and Professional Reminiscence, 47 UCLA Law Review 1375-79 (2000).
    • Independence, Integration, and Immunity: The Relationship of the State and National Legal Systems in the United States Federal Structure. Speech delivered at the German American Conference Democracy and the Rule of Law, October 1, 1997. Full Text
    • Chronique: Droit constitutionnel etranger: L’actualite constitutionelle dans les pays de common law et de droit mixte (January-June 1997), 30 Revue Francaise de Droit Constitutionelle 837-51 (1997). Constitutional Jurisprudence of the Supreme Court (January - June 1997), 30 French Constitutional Law Review 837-51 (1997). 
    • Chronique: Droit constitutionnel etranger: L’actualite constitutionelle dans les pays de common law et de droit mixte (July-December 1996), 29 Revue Francaise de Droit Constitutionelle 163-84 (1997). Constitutional Jurisprudence of the Supreme Court (July - December 1996), 29 French Constitutional Law Review 163-84 (1997).
    • Proposition 209: Better Learn to Live With It, 17 UCLA Today (Nov. 22, 1996).
    • Law Clerk Reminiscence, in Glimpses of Walter Mansfield 148-151 (Federal Bar Foundation, 1995).
    • Book Review, 36 American Journal of Legal History 220-23 (1992). Reviewing Hugo L. Black and the Dilemma of American Liberalism, by Tony Freyer and Oscar Handlin.