The Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice Section of the American Bar Association has recognized three Michigan Law professors with recent awards.

Christopher Walker received the Section Fellow Award while Julian Davis Mortenson and Nicholas Bagley received the Award for Scholarship in Administrative Law in 2021 for their paper “Delegation at the Founding,” which appeared in volume 21 of the Columbia Law Review.

The section announced the awards at its Administrative Law Conference on December 1.

Walker is a new fellow

The ABA section designates academics and practitioners as fellows for their contributions to the field of administrative law and has recognized roughly 50 fellows during its nearly 90-year history. 

Christopher Walker
Christopher Walker

Walker, a professor of law who joined Michigan’s faculty in July, recently completed seven years of service on the governing council of the section. In 2020–2021, he served as chair, overseeing the launch of the ABA Program for Prospective Administrative Law Scholars. The program aims to diversify the administrative law contingent within the legal academy by positioning lawyers currently in government or administrative and regulatory law practice to be successful job candidates in the academic marketplace. 

During his term as chair, the section launched a YouTube channel that provides recordings of many webinars to the public free of charge. In 2014, Walker also led the section’s efforts to launch the Notice & Comment blog, a collaboration between the section and the Yale Journal on Regulation

Walker’s research focuses on administrative law, regulation, and law and policy at the agency level. He brings to his scholarship and to the classroom the extensive practical experience of having worked in all three branches of the federal government, as well as in private practice.

“I am so honored to be named a fellow of the ABA Administrative Law Section,” he said. “It has played such an important role in my career and life as an administrative law scholar and practitioner.”

Mortenson and Bagley recognized for scholarship

Each year, the section recognizes the best work of administrative law scholarship, either a book or an article, for the previous year. The chosen work provides a new and timely insight into a current issue of administrative law as well as a new theoretical construct that will aid in the understanding or development of administrative law or develop a practical recommendation for solving a problem of administrative law.

Mortenson Julian
Julian Davis Mortenson

Mortenson and Bagley’s work refutes the claim that the Constitution was originally understood to contain a nondelegation doctrine—in other words, that Congress cannot delegate its powers to others.

“The Founding generation didn’t share anything remotely approaching a belief that the constitutional settlement imposed restrictions on the delegation of legislative power—let alone by empowering the judiciary to police legalized limits,” reads the paper. “To the contrary, the Founders saw nothing wrong with delegations as a matter of legal theory.”

“The list of prior recipients of this award reads like a who’s who of administrative law luminaries,” said Bagley, referring to a group that includes Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan, who each received the award before becoming justices on the US Supreme Court. “We’re honored to be included.” 

Nick Bagley
Nicholas Bagley

Bagley, who also received the award in 2007, is a professor of law but currently is on leave while serving as chief legal counsel to Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. He concentrates his research on health care law and is a frequent contributor to The Incidental Economist, a health policy blog. 

Mortenson, the James G. Phillipp Professor of Law, is an active litigator as well as a scholar and teacher who specializes in constitutional and international law. 

“It’s an extraordinary honor—seeing this feedback from our peers is pretty special,” said Mortenson. “I’m lucky to have gotten to cowrite with Nick.”