Jan 12, 2021 - University of Houston Law Center Professor Emily Berman was announced as the first annual winner of the Excellence in Oversight Research Award by the Levin Center at Wayne State University Law School. The accolade honors Berman’s Boston College Law Review article, “Weaponizing the Office of Legal Counsel,” as the year’s most outstanding work on government oversight.
The article argues that the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) issues legal opinions, which govern executive branch actions that effectively advantage the executive branch in its inter-branch conflicts with Congress. It identifies and explains OLC’s role in oversight matters and identifies ways that OLC’s opinions are used in oversight disputes to favor the executive branch over Congress.
Berman notes that OLC’s institutional design guarantees its separation of powers opinions will paint a pro-executive view of the law. These executive-friendly analyses not only influence the actions of executive officials, but also impact the legal and political debate about oversight issues outside the executive branch. Berman presents various ways in which Congress could take a stand and fight back.
Berman joined the Law Center faculty in 2014, and teaches Constitutional Law, Foreign Relations Law and National Security Law. Her research and scholarship examines the unique separation of powers challenges that arise in the constitutional, statutory and regulatory regimes governing national security policy.
Berman will present her work during a lecture on Jan. 22 via Zoom hosted by the Levin Center at Wayne Law.
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