June 19, 2024

A former lawyer in the Trump administration’s Department of Justice was presented with an award Saturday from the Federalist Society for her work and expertise on the “administrative state” and separation of powers, which has been used to fight what Republicans say is the Biden administration’s executive overreach.

Jennifer Mascott, now an associate professor at the Scalia School of Law at George Mason University, won the Joseph Story Award, which recognizes lawyers who have “demonstrated excellence in legal scholarship and who have made a significant public impact in a manner that advances the rule of law in a free society.”

The Federalist Society is a conservative group of attorneys advocating a textualist and originalist interpretation of the US Constitution.

In 2019, Mascott was deputy assistant attorney general in the Office of Legal Counsel within the DOJ under Attorney General Bill Barr. She now co-directs the C. Boyden Gray Center for the Study of the Administrative State at the Scalia Law School with Adam White, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

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Professor Jennifer Mascott, recipient of the 2023 Federalist Society Joseph Story Award

Professor Jennifer Mascott, recipient of the 2023 Federalist Society Joseph Story Award (Credible)

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White says that Mascott has been one of the “very leading scholars for a better understanding of the Constitution’s allocation of executive powers and what that means in practice for agencies and for key personnel within the agencies.” He noted that his work has been cited by judges across the country and in the opinions of the Supreme Court.

“She really has been a leader on the intellectual side,” White said. “She’s poured immense energy into connecting those fundamental ideas with the actual practice of governance.”

US Constitution

US Constitution (iStock.)

The issue of an administrative overreaching state has long been an issue for conservatives. Just recently, a coalition of conservative groups called on House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to take up the REINS Act, a bill they say will tamp down federal bureaucrats in the Biden administration who “have infiltrated the lives of Americans through a historic expansion of government” through federal regulations written by executive agencies without congressional oversight.

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Mascott’s work at the Gray Center also includes co-directing the Separation of Powers Clinic, which is aimed at providing “practical instruction to students studying the separation of powers issues within the federal government as well as structural constitutional principles that apply to the division of authority between the federal and state governments.” The clinic has filed numerous court briefs in key cases dealing with the separation of powers issues.

As a founder of the clinic, Mascott has been active in some of the legal battles over executive actions within the Biden administration, including assisting members of Congress in their brief to the Supreme Court challenging Biden’s student loan handout.

In addition to frequently testing on Capitol Hill, Mascott helps lead the Article 1 Venture, a seminar series for congressional staff members on the importance and implementation of Article 1 of the Constitution.

The American flag flies at half-staff over the US Capitol Sept.  8, 2022, on Capitol Hill in Washington after the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

The American flag flies at half-staff over the US Capitol Sept. 8, 2022, on Capitol Hill in Washington after the death of Queen Elizabeth II. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Mascott was a former law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and to Judge Brett Kavanaugh, when he served on the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit.

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She received the award at the Federalist Society’s annual National Student Symposium in Austin, Texas, Saturday evening.