Keith E. Whittington named Thomas M. Cooley Book Prize Recipient

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Georgetown Law’s Center for the Constitution will award its third Thomas M. Cooley Book Prize of $50,000 to Professor Keith E. Whittington of Princeton University for his book, Repugnant Laws: Judicial Review of Acts of Congress from the Founding to the Present (University Press of Kansas, 2019).

“This book is a must-read for any serious student of our Constitution and how it actually works,” said Georgetown Law Professor Randy Barnett, director of the Center for the Constitution.

Repugnant Laws presents the most comprehensive account of every Supreme Court decision reviewing the constitutionality of a federal statute since the nation’s founding.

This is the second UPK book to receive the prize. Gary Lawson & Guy Seidman’s A Great Power of Attorney won in 2018.

“Facts matter and this book provides them,” Barnett said. “From now on, no discussion of the practice of judicial review can ignore the book’s empirical findings. The most cynical political scientist will need to come to grips with its conclusion that ‘the justices are not lapdogs, and they have often bitten the hand of the party that put them on the bench.’ At the same time, idealists will need to incorporate its findings that the ‘justices have proven themselves to be allies of [their] political coalition leaders.’”

The Center for the Constitution established the Thomas M. Cooley Book Prize, Symposium & Judicial Lecture to recognize exceptional books written that advance our understanding of, and commitment to, our written Constitution. The third annual event will be held at Georgetown Law over two days, March 19-20, 2020.

On the opening evening, Judge Neomi Rao of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit will deliver the event’s annual judicial lecture, which is open to the public.

The next day, the Cooley Book Prize ceremony will be held as part of a daylong invitation-only symposium focused on Whittington’s book. Featured political scientists and scholars of the judiciary will share commentary about the book, including Georgetown Law Dean William Treanor and professors Nancy Maveety (politics, Tulane University), Chancellor Howard Gillman (law, Univ. of Calif., Irvine), and Adam Carrington (politics, Hillsdale College).

Professor Whittington will join these scholars and a group of constitutional law professors from area law schools to discuss the issues raised by the book and papers — which will be published in a special issue of the Georgetown Journal of Law & Public Policy.

The Cooley Book Prize, Symposium & Judicial Lecture honor the renowned legal scholar and jurist Thomas McIntyre Cooley. Cooley was a longstanding chief justice of the Michigan Supreme Court, and a professor at the University of Michigan Law School, where he also served as the dean. He authored several highly influential books, including A Treatise on the Constitutional Limitations Which Rest Upon the Legislative Power of the States of the American Union.

Keith E. Whittington is William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Politics at Princeton University. His many books include Political Foundations of Judicial SupremacySpeak Freely, and, also from Kansas, Constitutional Interpretation.