The Inaugural Thomas M. Cooley Book Prize goes to Professor Lawson and coauthor Guy Seidman for A Great Power of Attorney.
Gary Lawson, Phillip S. Beck Professor of Law and founding member of the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies, was given the first Thomas M. Cooley Book Prize by the Georgetown Center for the Constitution.
Awarded to books about constitutional law that have a significant impact on how we view the Constitution, the Cooley Book Prize honored Lawson and coauthor Guy Seidman, of IDC Herzliya Radzyner Law School, for their book, “A Great Power of Attorney”: Understanding the Fiduciary Constitution.
In A Great Power of Attorney Lawson and Seidman examine the implications of interpreting the Constitution’s grants of what they call “limited powers to the national government” and explores those powers in the context of a fiduciary Constitution. It determines what kind of legal document the Constitution is and how that affects the authority it entrusts in government officials and the responsibilities those officials owe to the public.
According to Lawson, A Great Power of Attorney, “takes an approach to understanding the United States Constitution that would not have been startling or interesting 200 years ago but that has been lost.” Inspired by the work of constitutional scholar Robert G. Natelson, Lawson and Seidman reject several other interpretations of the Constitution, including their own previous views of the document as an “instruction manual.” After reading Natelson’s work, Lawson and Seidman decided they needed to unite their approaches on analyzing the Constitution and began their collaboration.
Lawson and Seidman see A Great Power of Attorney as an extension of the ideas and viewpoints expressed in The Origins of the Necessary and Proper Clause, written by Natelson, Lawson, and Seidman along with Geoffrey Miller of the New York University School of Law.
In the first chapter of their book, Lawson and Seidman write, “Some… descriptions are closer to the mark than others, but none accurately situates the Constitution within the universe of documents known to eighteenth-century makers of legal instruments.”
The Cooley Book Prize is named after Hon. Thomas McIntyre Cooley, a noted legal scholar who served as chief justice of the Michigan Supreme Court as well as dean and professor at the University of Michigan School of Law. Several of Cooley’s published work have been considered highly influential in understanding and interpreting the Constitution.
A day-long symposium was held at the Georgetown Center for the Constitution in April to celebrate the book. At the symposium, constitutional law professors from Washington DC-area law schools joined Lawson and Seidman to discuss the issues raised by the book and relevant papers. All of these works will be published in a special issue of the Georgetown Journal of Law & Public Policy.
Reported by Yadira Flores (CAS’19)
- Professor Gary Lawson Proposes Constitution as Fiduciary Instrument with New Book
- Noted Scholar of Inequality to Lead BU School of Law
- Professor David Webber Uncovers the Untapped Power of the Working Class in New Book