Levin Center announces winner of its 2020 Excellence in Oversight Research Award


A core value of the Levin Center at Wayne Law is to promote constructive research into oversight by legislative bodies. The Levin Center Award for Excellence in Oversight Research is designed to encourage, acknowledge, and heighten the visibility of scholarly papers examining important oversight issues at the national, state, tribal, local or international levels. First established in 2019, this year marks the successful inauguration of this scholarly competition which carries a cash prize of $1,000.

The Levin Center at Wayne Law  announced Monday that the winning paper for 2020 is “Weaponizing the Office of Legal Counsel” by Professor Emily Berman. This law review article examines the role of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) in oversight matters, details how OLC opinions have been used to favor the Executive Branch over Congress in inter-branch oversight disputes, and reviews possible reforms to cure imbalances created by the citation of OLC opinions in court.  Scheduled for publication in the Boston College Law Review in 2021, the winning paper was chosen by a committee of oversight scholars who reviewed seven excellent candidates for the award.

Emily Berman’s scholarship examines the unique separation-of-powers challenges that arise in the constitutional, statutory, and regulatory regimes governing national-security policy. She focuses in particular on ways to impose traditional conceptions of government oversight on law enforcement and intelligence operations. Professor Berman’s work has been published in top journals and her opinion pieces have appeared in JustSecurity, The Atlantic Online, the National Law Journal, Legal Times Online, and CNN.com.


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