2020 Award for Excellence in Oversight Research

Professor Emily Berman, University of Houston Law Center

The Levin Center at Wayne Law is delighted to announce 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.

Presentation of Professor Berman's winning paper: