Legal Clinic Dedicated to Separation of Powers Issues Launches at C. Boyden Gray Center

WASHINGTON, DC (December 27, 2021) – Today, the C. Boyden Gray Center for the Study of the Administrative State directed by Professor Jennifer L. Mascott and scholar Adam White announced the establishment of the Separation of Powers Clinic for work with students at the Scalia Law School of George Mason University.  Trent McCotter will serve as Director of Clinical and Academic Programs at the Gray Center as well as director of the clinic, which will operate under the supervision of Professor Mascott who teaches substantive courses in constitutional law, separation of powers, federal courts, and administrative law at the law school.  McCotter previously served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for three years and as a Deputy Associate Attorney General within the U.S. Department of Justice; currently he practices law as a partner at C. Boyden Gray & Associates and has authored nearly 50 Supreme Court briefs.

The clinic will provide practical instruction to students studying separation of powers issues within the federal government as well as structural constitutional principles that apply to the division of authority between the federal and state governments.  This morning, the clinic submitted its inaugural filing, an amicus curiae brief in Egbert v. Boule, which is scheduled for argument before the Supreme Court of the United States on March 2, 2022; the petitioner in the case is represented by the Supreme Court and Appellate Litigation practice group of Williams & Connolly.

“The Gray Center is excited about the launch of the Separation of Powers Clinic, which will include a formal law school course for students each spring along with opportunities for student research assistants to work on clinic projects throughout the year,” said Jennifer Mascott, Co-Executive Director of the Gray Center.  “The separation of powers questions that the clinic will examine relate to structural constitutional safeguards that are fundamental for individual liberty.  The Center could not be more thrilled to welcome Trent McCotter as clinic director, as Trent is uniquely qualified for this role in light of his wide-ranging and deep experience working on constitutional questions within both government and private legal practice.”

Through the clinic, students will have the opportunity to closely participate in practical projects related to the study of constitutional questions that forms the backbone of the Gray Center’s mission to foster significant legal scholarship examining the role of administrative agencies and the division of power within the three branches of federal government.  Students participating in the clinic course will gain practical legal experience by identifying cases of interest, researching legal issues, and helping to prepare drafts of appellate briefs.  The Center has previously worked with Scalia Law School students primarily through its student fellowship program and looks forward to providing this new opportunity for student legal training.

“I am thrilled to join the Gray Center and direct student work on practical legal projects on core constitutional questions at Scalia Law School,” said McCotter.  “In particular, the clinic was excited to file its first brief today in a Supreme Court case relating to significant questions of the proper role of federal courts in providing a forum for consideration of constitutional claims and causes of action against federal officials.”

“This is a significant step forward for the Gray Center, exemplifying the Center’s programmatic growth under Professor Mascott since her arrival last summer. I am proud that the Center will extend its scholarly impact—and educate and train Scalia Law’s students—in this exciting new way,” Adam J. White, Co-Executive Director of the Gray Center and a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, said.

The Gray Center is dedicated to fostering significant legal scholarship addressing questions related to the situation of the modern administrative state within the federal constitutional structure, in order to elevate and improve debates occurring in the courts, in Congress, in the executive branch, and among the broader public.  Since its founding in 2015, the Gray Center has hosted dozens of research roundtables and public policy conferences, workshopping scores of law review articles that have been published in leading academic journals and cited by judges and other scholars.  Housed within George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School, across the Potomac River from the nation’s capital, the Gray Center serves as a bridge between the work of academia and the work of courts, Congress, the executive branch, and private practitioners.

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