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New Deal Article Wins Legal History Prize

Daniel Ernst

Law professor Daniel Ernst was awarded the 2010 Surrency Prize from the American Society of Legal History (ASLH) for his article "The Politics of Administrative Law: New York's Anti-Bureaucracy Clause and the O'Brian-Wagner Campaign of 1938." (Photo source: Rhoda Baer)

November 23, 2010 –An article on the politics of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal has won Law Center Professor Daniel Ernst the 2010 Surrency Prize from the American Society of Legal History (ASLH).

Ernst received the prize from ASLH during its annual conference in Philadelphia on Nov. 20.

His winning article, "The Politics of Administrative Law: New York’s Anti-Bureaucracy Clause and the O’Brian-Wagner Campaign of 1938," ran in the Summer 2009 issue of Law and History Review.

Moment in History

"Extensively and creatively researched, [the article] tells us much that we need to know about a fascinating moment in American history," The Surrency Committee stated in its prize citation.

Ernst wrote about New York's 1938 constitutional convention, in which one of the amendments proposed would have greatly increase the New York courts' oversight of state agencies. Voters rejected what they saw as a harbinger of a national campaign against the New Deal.

The law professor showed how the defeat of the amendment affected the 1938 New York Senate race between New Deal supporter Robert Wagner, who won, and opponent Lord John O'Brian. He also talked about how this came to shape modern administrative law.

Legal History Expert

The prize is named in honor of Erwin Surrency, a founding member of the ASLH and former editor of its publication, the American Journal of Legal History.

Ernst, an expert in American legal history and property, joined the law faculty at Georgetown in 1988. He is the author of the award-winning Lawyers Against Labor: From Individual Rights to Corporate Liberalism (1995) and served as co-editor of Total War and the Law: The American Home Front in World War II (2002).

 

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