Michigan Law Professor Leah Litman, ’10, has been chosen to receive the 2023 Ruth Bader Ginsburg Scholar Award from the American Constitution Society (ACS).
The award recognizes an outstanding scholar in the early stages of an academic career who has demonstrated the qualities exemplified by the late Justice Ginsburg: scholarly excellence, the ability to imagine how society might be more just and more equal, and the determination to use the law and scholarship to creatively and strategically make the imagined real.
“ACS is delighted to present this award to Professor Litman,” ACS President Russ Feingold said. “Her scholarship on constitutional law and federal courts is impressive in both its breadth and depth. Perhaps most importantly, Professor Litman strives with her scholarship to expose the real-world and often discriminatory effects of seemingly mundane and neutral rules and procedures, demonstrating the power that legal scholarship can have in challenging and transforming our laws and legal systems.”
The society noted that Litman has also distinguished herself through her ability to translate scholarly insights in a way that both taps into and helps shape today’s popular legal commentary.
“Her skill in communicating nuanced legal ideas has allowed her to foster a broad audience of lawyers and non-lawyers for her work,” Feingold said. “As co-host and co-creator of the hit podcast Strict Scrutiny, a frequent contributor to some of the most widely read outlets in the country, and an active pro bono litigator, Professor Litman’s career embodies the values of the Ruth Bader Ginsburg Award and ACS.”
Ginsburg began her academic career at Rutgers Law School, where she co-founded the first legal journal in the country to focus exclusively on the field of women’s rights law and taught her first class on Women and the Law, among the earliest taught on the subject in American law schools.
“I am honored to receive this award from ACS and the incredible community of scholars and leaders they represent,” Litman said. “I started tenure-track teaching in 2016, and so I’ve focused my research on some of the problems with the law and legal profession that were pointedly exposed at that time and that we’re continuing to grapple with today. I appreciate ACS’s recognition of my scholarship, as well as my efforts to engage broader audiences in these conversations. And of course, given my work with the American Civil Liberties Union on issues of gender equity, I’m very touched to receive an award named for Justice Ginsburg.”
The award will be presented at the ACS Annual National Convention in Washington, DC, on May 18.
Litman teaches and writes on constitutional law, federal courts, and federal sentencing. Her research examines unidentified and implicit values that are used to structure the legal system, the federal courts, and the legal profession. Litman’s recent work has appeared or will appear in several prominent law reviews and news outlets.
She co-founded, with Michigan Law Assistant Professor Emily Prifogle, Women Also Know Law—a media platform designed to promote the work of women and nonbinary academics.
Since 2019, she also has been the co-host of Strict Scrutiny, a weekly podcast produced by Crooked Media about the United States Supreme Court and the legal culture that surrounds it.
In addition to teaching, Litman maintains an active pro bono practice. She was part of the litigation team in Garcia v. United States, one of the successful challenges to the rescission of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, for which the team was recognized as California Lawyers of the Year. In the Supreme Court, she was on the merits briefs in Hernandez v. Mesa and Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. Last year, working with the ACLU of Michigan, she argued and won a case in the Michigan Supreme Court which held that Michigan civil rights laws prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
The ACS is an organization that interprets the Constitution based on its text and against the backdrop of history and lived experience. Through a diverse nationwide network of lawyers, law students, judges, scholars, and many others, ACS strives to uphold the Constitution by ensuring that law is a force for protecting democracy and the public interest and for improving people’s lives.