Strauss Wins Cudahy Prize

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June 13, 2008 (NEW YORK) – Columbia Law School Professor Peter L. Strauss has been named winner of the first Richard D. Cudahy Writing Competition on Regulatory and Administrative Law, a new competition designed to reward legal scholarship that shows a keen grasp of legal doctrine, deep insight into the institutional forces that determine how doctrine is implemented, and an appreciation of the public impact of doctrinal choices.
The award, presented by the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy (ACS), was announced today during the society’s annual national convention in Washington, D.C.
Strauss, Columbia’s Betts Professor of Law, won for his June 2007 article in the George Washington Law Review on the expansion of presidential power, titled “Overseer or ‘The Decider?’ The President in Administrative Law.”
In the article, Strauss writes that, “absent actual congressional delegation of decisional authority to the President, his role is limited to executive oversight” of government agencies. He notes that “recent years have witnessed presidential blurring of the distinction,” and looks at numerous Bush Administration actions which tried to expand presidential power over domestic agencies and appointments within those agencies.
Strauss looks at whether these actions have led to “the accretion of dangerous power,” (a term used by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter in a 1952 concurring opinion) and whether they are “departures from the marvelous system of checks and balances that has so long kept American government on the rails.” 
The ACS competition is named for Judge Richard D. Cudahy, who was appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in 1979. The ACS says he has secured a reputation for the depth, rigor, and fair-mindedness of his opinions, academic publications and speeches. For more on Judge Cudahy, click here.
Strauss teaches courses in Administrative Law, Legal Methods, and Legislation. He joined the faculty in 1971. In the 1970’s Strauss was the first General Counsel of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
He writes regularly on separation of powers and, in particular, the President’s constitutional relationship to the agencies on which Congress has conferred regulatory authority. The Chicago Law Review will shortly be publishing a new article by Strauss, “Overseers or ‘The Deciders?’ The Courts in Administrative Law.”
Last month, in testimony before Congress, Strauss said the Constitution makes it clear that the Congress, rather than the president, has power to assign duties to administrative agencies within the federal government. Strauss made his comments in light of the rulemaking process the Environmental Protection Agency followed as it set national standards for ozone in March, collaborating with the White House.
“Our Constitution is very clear, in my judgment, in making the President the overseer of all the varied duties the Congress creates for government agencies to perform, including rulemaking,” Strauss said in his testimony. “Yet our Constitution is equally clear in permitting Congress to assign duties to administrative agencies rather than the President. When it does, our President is not ‘the decider’ of these matters, but the overseer of their decisions.”
To read Strauss’ full May 6 testimony before the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Commercial Administrative Law, click here.
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The American Constitution Society for Law and Policy is one of the nation’s leading progressive legal organizations. Founded in 2001, ACS is a rapidly growing network of lawyers, law students, scholars, judges, policymakers and other concerned individuals. Its mission is to ensure that fundamental principles of human dignity, individual rights and liberties, genuine equality, and access to justice enjoy their rightful, central place in American law. Click here to learn more.