Professor Saikrishna Prakash Receives Traynor Award for Scholarship

Saikrishna Prakash

Saikrishna Prakash is the author of "Imperial from the Beginning: The Constitution of the Original Executive," published this year by Yale University Press.

September 22, 2015

University of Virginia School of Law professor Saikrishna Prakash is the recipient of the Roger and Madeleine Traynor Faculty Achievement Award, Dean Paul G. Mahoney announced Monday during a faculty luncheon.

"Sai's work focuses on the Constitution's structural provisions, particularly the separation of powers," Mahoney said. "He is one of the country's most influential voices on the original meaning of those provisions."

The award provides $5,000 to the recipient and is generally given every other year to a senior faculty member in recognition of his or her scholarly achievement.

Prakash, the James Monroe Distinguished Professor of Law and the Horace W. Goldsmith Research Professor, joined the faculty in 2009 after serving as the Herzog Research Professor of Law at the University of San Diego School of Law. A graduate of Stanford University and Yale Law School, Prakash clerked for Judge Laurence H. Silberman of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. His work has been published in the Yale Law Journal and the Virginia, Michigan and University of Chicago law reviews, among others.

"When I behold the scholarship my colleagues regularly produce, I am astonished by its quality and rigor. This makes this award particularly meaningful to me," Prakash said. "Moreover, to follow in the footsteps of recent recipients Doug Laycock and Fred Schauer is quite an honor."

Prakash is also the author of " Imperial from the Beginning: The Constitution of the Original Executive ," published this year by Yale University Press. The book examines what the phrase "executive power" meant to the founding generation, drawing on English, colonial, state and early federal experience as well as the debates preceding the Constitution's creation.

Mahoney said he appreciated the book's counterintuitive insights.

"While we are used to considering the president's power as at its peak when it comes to the commander-in-chief role, Sai points out that relatively speaking, quite a few of the Constitution's explicit incursions on the executive power have to do with the military," Mahoney explained. "Here he does not focus on the obvious — Congress' power to declare war — but on Congress' power to raise and support armies, to provide and maintain a Navy, and to make rules regulating them. In fact, Congress has the power to constrain the president considerably more than it in fact does in this area, whereas the president could assert power more aggressively in domestic policy than most presidents do."

The Traynor award was established in 1994 by a gift of Madeleine Traynor in honor of her husband, a former chief justice of the California Supreme Court and a visiting professor at the Law School during the 1960s.

Fall 2013 Douglas Laycock
Fall 2011 Frederick Schauer
Fall 2008 G. Edward White
Spring 2008 Ken Abraham
Spring 2005 George Rutherglen
Spring 2003 John Monahan
Fall 2000 John Jeffries
Fall 1998 Paul Mahoney and George Triantis
Fall 1997 Saul Levmore
Fall 1996 Michael Klarman


Recent Faculty Accolades


Founded in 1819, the University of Virginia School of Law is the second-oldest continuously operating law school in the nation. Consistently ranked among the top law schools, Virginia is a world-renowned training ground for distinguished lawyers and public servants, instilling in them a commitment to leadership, integrity and community service.

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