Professor Tara Leigh Grove of William & Mary Law School received the Federalist Society’s 2016 Paul M. Bator Award on Feb. 27 at the society’s 35th National Student Symposium, held at the University of Virginia School of Law. The award each year honors a legal scholar under the age of 40 “who has demonstrated excellence in legal scholarship, a commitment to teaching, a concern for students, and who has made a significant public impact.”
Bator was a renowned legal scholar and professor, who taught at Harvard and at the University of Chicago, and was a Principal Deputy Solicitor General during the Reagan administration. Grove joins a distinguished group of professors honored with the Bator Award since its creation in 1989.
“I am delighted to see Tara Grove receive the Bator Award,” said Law School Dean Davison M. Douglas. “She is a rising star in the fields of Federal Courts and Constitutional Law, and is a very deserving recipient of this honor.”
Grove’s scholarship has gained substantial recognition in her seven years in academia. Her work has appeared in top law journals, including the Harvard Law Review, the Columbia Law Review, the New York University Law Review, the University of Pennsylvania Law Review, and the Cornell Law Review, and also has been discussed and cited in leading federal courts casebooks. The Federal Courts Section of the Association of American Law Schools selected her article, The Article II Safeguards of Federal Jurisdiction (SSRN), as the Best Article of 2012 by an untenured professor. Her article Standing Outside of Article III (SSRN) was one of three papers selected for the 2014 New Voices in Civil Justice Workshop at Vanderbilt University Law School. More recently, her article The Lost History of the Political Question Doctrine (SSRN) was selected for the Federalist Society’s 2015 Junior Scholars Colloquium.
National media have turned to Grove for her expertise on stories concerning the constitutional separation of powers and the federal judiciary. In the summer of 2014, for example, she was among legal experts quoted in The Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, CBS News, and Newsweek when House Speaker John Boehner announced his intent to challenge President Obama in court over his enforcement of the Affordable Care Act.
In courses such as Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law, and Federal Courts she challenges her students to think more deeply about constitutional and other legal issues. She also is known for giving generously of her time to students outside class.
3L Leonard Simmons said Grove is an especially effective teacher “because she has always held her students to the same intellectual rigor to which she holds herself.”
Kevin Elliker, J.D. ’14, recalled that Grove’s Federal Courts class was both his favorite class during law school and the one he found most challenging. “To label her spirit as ‘enthusiastic’ would not properly recognize her love of the law,” he said. “She practically bounced with joy during class as she excitedly laid out dense and complex doctrines, cheered on the ‘a-ha’ moments of her students, and patiently guided the class to mastery of what once appeared to be an insurmountable syllabus.”
Aaron Gold, J.D. ’15, said “one could not hope for a better teacher than Professor Grove” with her vibrant classroom style and what he humorously described as her “saint-like patience in office hours.” Grove possesses in equal measure a “commitment to fostering precise legal thinking in her students” and a dedication to helping students outside of class, according to 3L Eric S. Fleming. He described the many times he has stopped by her office to ask for advice about job interviews or upcoming moot court tournaments. “Though I invariably find her writing her next article beside a towering pile of books and journals, she has always greeted me with a smile and a healthy dose of insight,” he said.
Alan Meese, the Ball Professor of Law at William & Mary, was a student of Professor Bator at the University of Chicago and helped nominate Grove for the award. According to Meese, “Tara’s scholarship exemplifies numerous virtues that characterized Professor Bator’s own work, including careful attention to text, history, and constitutional structure, the ability to stake out clear and forceful positions, and a willingness to follow the evidence wherever it leads. She is rapidly becoming one of the leading voices in the field of Federal Courts and is a very worthy recipient of this award."
William & Mary recognized Grove’s achievements when, in 2014, she became the first untenured faculty member at the university to receive the Plumeri Award for Faculty Excellence, and in 2015, when she was named the Robert E. and Elizabeth S. Scott Research Professor in her first year as a tenured faculty member.
Traveling to Charlottesville, Virginia, for the ceremony was a homecoming for Grove. She grew up in the city and has family there. In addition to her husband, David Davies, her mother and brother, Lyn Grove and Allen Grove, attended the award banquet.
“I am deeply humbled and honored to receive the Bator Award,” Grove said. “Having my family at the ceremony made the event all the more meaningful.”
Grove received her undergraduate degree, summa cum laude, from Duke University, and her law degree, magna cum laude, from Harvard Law School, where she was Supreme Court Chair of the Harvard Law Review. She clerked for Judge Emilio Garza on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and later served for four years as an appellate attorney in the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Division. She began her academic career at Florida State University College of Law in 2009 and, two years later, joined the William & Mary faculty. She was a visiting professor at Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law in 2012, and will serve as a visiting professor at Harvard Law School in 2017.
The Federalist Society's press release about the prize, and videos and photos from the ceremony can be found here.