The Yale Law Journal

Announcing the Inaugural Emerging Scholar of the Year: Payvand Ahdout

Rachel Sommers
28 Mar 2022

The Yale Law Journal is thrilled to announce its inaugural Emerging Scholar of the Year: Payvand Ahdout

The Emerging Scholar of the Year Award, introduced by Volume 131, celebrates the achievements of early-career academics who have made significant contributions to legal thought and scholarship. It seeks to promote scholarship that has the potential to drive improvements in the law and to spotlight the exceptional work of its honorees. The Emerging Scholar of the Year is selected by the Journal’s membership following an intensive, semester-long research and deliberation process. They receive a $5,000 honorarium, and are featured on the Journal’s podcast.

The Journal’s inaugural Emerging Scholar of the Year, Professor Ahdout, is an Associate Professor of Law at the University of Virginia School of Law, where she teaches Federal Courts and a seminar on the Separation of Powers.

Professor Ahdout’s scholarship uncovers judicial practices and procedures that have important implications for our understanding of federal courts as critical fora for the vindication of constitutional rights. Her latest work, Enforcement Lawmaking and Judicial Review published in the Harvard Law Review, maps a significant, if insufficiently theorized, shift in the use of the judicial power in suits challenging executive power. She argues that federal courts are increasingly using their inherent case management powers to place a check on the Executive’s exercise of enforcement discretion. Her earlier work, Direct Collateral Review published in the Columbia Law Review, identifies developments in the Supreme Court’s certiorari practice with respect to state habeas cases. She argues that the Court has quietly begun to review criminal claims arising from state collateral proceedings through its shadow docket, discarding its longstanding presumption against taking such cases. This allows the Court to retain federal primacy in the development of constitutional criminal procedure. Her current project, tentatively titled Separation-of-Powers Avoidance, centers on techniques that courts use to avoid embroiling themselves in separation-of-powers conflicts with coordinate branches.

Professor Ahdout’s insights about federal courts are grounded in years of practical experience. She served as a law clerk to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the U.S. Supreme Court and to Debra Anna Livingston on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. She has also served as a Bristow Fellow in the Office of the Solicitor General of the United States, during which she began to develop the observations and arguments that would appear in her first article.

Professor Ahdout is a graduate of Columbia Law School, where she was an editor on the Columbia Law Review, a James Kent Scholar, and a recipient of the Ruther Bader Ginsburg Prize. She is also a graduate of the University of Virginia, where she was a Jefferson Scholar and graduated with highest distinction. She has previously held academic fellowships at Columbia Law School and NYU Law.

The Journal is delighted to celebrate the achievements of Professor Ahdout. Please join us in congratulating her!