Zimra P. Ahdout

  • Academic Fellow

Payvand Ahdout is an Academic Fellow and Columbia Fellow at Columbia Law School.  Her research is primarily on modern uses of judicial power.  Focusing on the structures that compose and the institutions that are most often before the federal courts, her work incorporates multiple legal disciplines, including federal courts, constitutional law, civil procedure, and criminal law and procedure.


Prior to joining Columbia, Payvand served as a law clerk to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the U.S. Supreme Court and to Judge Debra Ann Livingston on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.  She also served as a Bristow Fellow in the Office of the Solicitor General of the United States.  She has previously held a fellowship at NYU Law.

Payvand’s current project, Separation-of-Powers Suits, argues that the federal courts have subjected the Executive to meaningful judicial review in the lower federal courts.  Through discovery, case management, and the appointment of defenders, lower courts have forced transparency and public accountability on the Executive Branch.  These “managerial checks” are fortified by contemporaneous doctrinal checks that courts have developed.  Courts regularly review executive action in pre-enforcement postures.  Through developments in standing doctrine, courts have opened their doors to multi-party public litigation in which participants cannot straightforwardly be characterized as party plaintiffs.  And they have fashioned remedies more appropriately tailored to new forms of executive action.

Payvand received her J.D. from Columbia Law School, where she was a James Kent Scholar and a recipient of the Ruth Bader Ginsburg Prize.  She received a B.A. with highest distinction from the University of Virginia, where she was a Jefferson Scholar.