June 5, 2020

American Constitution Society Announces Winners of 2020 David Carliner Public Interest Award and Richard D. Cudahy Writing Award

Awards will be presented during the ACS National Virtual Convention June 8-12

Washington, DC — The American Constitution Society (ACS) is pleased to announce that Amanda Alexander, Founder and Executive Director of the Detroit Justice Center, and Allison Riggs, Interim Executive Director and Chief Counsel for Voting Rights at the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, will receive the 2020 David Carliner Public Interest Award for their respective innovative work and commitment to protecting civil and human rights.

ACS is also pleased to award the 2020 Richard D. Cudahy Writing Competition on Regulatory and Administrative Law to three recipients this year. Anne Joseph O’Connell, Adelbert H. Sweet Professor of Law, Stanford Law School, and Mila Sohoni, 2019-2020 Herzog Endowed Scholar and Professor of Law, University of San Diego School of Law, are the winners in the lawyer category. Ben Miller-Gootnick, a student at Harvard Law School, was selected as the winner in the student category.

“I am thrilled to be able to congratulate this year’s recipients of the Carliner and Cudahy Awards,” said ACS President Russ Feingold. “As the nation’s leading progressive legal organization, ACS is committed to the law being a force for change to improve the lives of all, including those in communities that have not always felt the law was on their side. I commend this year’s award recipients, and their work to uphold the Constitution and ensure that the law is a force for protecting our democracy and the public interest.”

The annual David Carliner Public Interest Award honors a mid-career public interest attorney whose work best exemplifies David Carliner’s legacy of fearless, uncompromising, and creative advocacy on behalf of marginalized people.

The Detroit Justice Center (DJC) is a non-profit law firm working alongside communities to create economic opportunities, transform the justice system, and promote equitable and just cities. The Southern Coalition for Social Justice (SCSJ) is a Durham, North Carolina-based nonprofit that partners with communities of color and economically disadvantaged communities in the South to defend and advance their political, social, and economic rights through the combination of legal advocacy, research, organizing, and communications. The Coalition’s voting rights work protects the rights of communities of color by defending the Voting Rights Act through fair redistricting and minimizing election administration practices that threaten free democratic participation in elections.

The Richard D. Cudahy Writing Competition on Regulatory and Administrative Law is in honor of the late Judge Cudahy. His distinguished contributions to the fields of regulatory and administrative law combined a keen grasp of legal doctrine, deep insight into the institutional forces that determine how doctrine is implemented, and an appreciation of the public impact of doctrinal and institutional choices, including the consequences for fundamental values such as fairness, participation, and transparency. This competition seeks to encourage and reward these qualities in the scholarship of others.

This year, the award is being presented to O’Connell for her article, Actings, which examines open questions about acting government officials through empirical, legal, and normative frameworks, and to Sohoni for her paper, The Lost History of the ‘Universal’ Injunction, which challenges the assumption that universal injunctions are a recent judicial invention. Miller-Gootnick’s selection was based on his paper, Boundaries of the Federal Vacancies Reform Act, which argues that presidents cannot fill temporary vacancies created by firing the prior officeholder but should instead be allowed to replace that officer with their “first assistant”.

The Carliner and Cudahy recipients will be recognized during the June 8 Evening Session of ACS’s 2020 Virtual National Convention.

During the event, ACS also will present The Lawyer Chapter of the Year and The  Faculty Advisor of Year Award. The winner and runners-up of the Constance Baker Motley Award, which were announced last month, also will be honored.


ACS believes that the Constitution is “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” We interpret the Constitution based on its text and against the backdrop of history and lived experience. Through a diverse nationwide network of progressive lawyers, law students, judges, scholars, and many others, we work to uphold the Constitution in the 21st Century by ensuring that law is a force for protecting our democracy and the public interest and for improving people’s lives. For more information, visit us at www.acslaw.org or on Twitter @acslaw.