Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Cromwell Article Prize to Blackhawk

Another annual award that the William Nelson Cromwell Foundation generously supports is the  Cromwell Article Prize, for the "best article in American legal history published by an early career scholar." This year's awardee, announced at the annual meeting of the ASLH, is Maggie Blackhawk (University of Pennsylvania), for her article “Petitioning and the Making of the Administrative State.” The article appeared in Volume 127 of the Yale Law Journal (2018).

A citation from the Cromwell Article Prize Committee:
“Petitioning and the Making of the Administrative State,” by Maggie McKinley of the Penn Law School in the Yale Law Journal, makes a robust and compelling case that finds the constitutional basis of the administrative state in core republican ideals grounded in the First Amendment’s protection of the right to petition Congress for relief. The article combines exhaustive archival and empirical research with a deft handling of administrative law and judicial process to offer provocative interventions into much of our received wisdom in those fields.

This article, which runs to a hundred pages, is an ambitious and impressive undertaking whose impact can be best appreciated as two skillfully combined articles. The first is an empirical study grounded in the “North America Petitions Project,” an original dataset compiled by a group of which McKinley was a co-principal investigator. The project assembled a database of some 500,000 petitions submitted to Congress from the 1790s through 1950, offering “an extended longitudinal view of the petition process.” Second, the article is also a robust intervention into several ongoing historical and legal debates. Above all, it rejects criticisms of the modern administrative state as a violation of constitutional separation of powers and a usurpation of authority – even as unconstitutional – and challenges Chadha’s holding the legislative veto to be unconstitutional. A citation such as this cannot do justice to the many virtues of this article, which ranges over more than two centuries of American legal history while engaging areas of several lively constitutional dispute. It is a worthy choice for such an important award.
The member's of this year's prize committee were David Konig (Chair) Washington University; Deborah Dinner (Emory University); H. Tomas Gomez-Arostegui (Lewis and Clark); and Erika Pani (Colegio de México). We thank them for their service and offer our congratulations to Maggie Blackhawk!
-- Karen Tani