Jeffrey Kahn

Jeffrey Kahn

Full-time faculty

Gerald J. Ford Research Fellow and Professor of Law

"Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government's purposes are beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding." - Justice Brandeis, dissenting in Olmstead v. United States, 277 U.S. 479 (1928).


Professor Kahn will be resident in Norway during the 2017-2018 academic year as a Fulbright Research Scholar at the PluriCourts Centre in the Faculty of Law at the University of Oslo.

Jeffrey Kahn is Professor of Law and Gerald J. Ford Research Fellow at SMU.  He joined the faculty in Fall 2006 and teaches and writes on American constitutional law, administrative law, Russian law, human rights, and counterterrorism. In 2007-2008, he received the Maguire Teaching Fellow Award from the Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility at SMU for his seminar, “Perspectives on Counterterrorism.” In 2008-2009, he was named a Colin Powell Fellow of the John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Studies. In 2010, he received SMU’s Outstanding Faculty Award, a university-wide award given each year to a junior, tenure-track faculty member for excellence in teaching, curricular development, and scholarship. In 2011, the year he was tenured and promoted to associate professor, he received the Law School's Excellence in Teaching Award.  He was promoted to full professor in 2014.

His latest research on U.S. legal topics focuses on the right to travel and national security law. His most recent book, MRS. SHIPLEY'S GHOST:  THE RIGHT TO TRAVEL AND TERRORIST WATCHLISTS (University of Michigan Press, 2013, paperback edition 2014), critically examines the U.S. Government's No Fly List. Among other publications, his articles have appeared in the UCLA Law ReviewMichigan Law Review, Virginia Journal of International Law, and the peer-reviewed Journal of National Security Law and Policy.  He has launched a new website, Watchlist Law, a clearinghouse on the latest news and litigation concerning the U.S. No Fly List.  His blog posts have been featured on Lawfare, Just Security, and Concurring Opinions.

His work on Russian law has been noted by name by the editors of the New York Times and published in various law reviews as well as the peer-reviewed journals Post-Soviet Affairs and Review of Central and East European Law. His latest research has focused primarily on the influence in Russia of the European Convention on Human Rights. In 2011, Russian President Dmitrii Medvedev’s Human Rights Council asked him─the one American among six other experts from Russia, one from Germany, and one from the Netherlands─to write an expert report on the second conviction of Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev. Professor Kahn described this work and its repercussions in an op-ed published in the New York Times (online) and International Herald Tribune (print).

He is a graduate of Yale College, Oxford University (where he won the Hodgson Martin Prize for Best Dissertation for his doctoral work on Russian federalism), and the University of Michigan Law School. His first book, based on that dissertation, was published by Oxford University Press while he was a law student. During law school, he also served as a lecturer on European human rights law at summer training programs in Moscow for Russian lawyers sponsored by the Council of Europe. After law school, he was a law clerk to the Honorable Thomas P. Griesa of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. He served as a trial attorney in the Civil Division, United States Department of Justice, from October 2003 until April 2006.

At SMU he was a founding member of the Advisory Board for the SMU Embrey Human Rights Education Program. SMU is the first university in the South, and only the fifth in the country, to offer an academic major in human rights. He is a Fellow of the John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Studies.

Areas of Expertise

  • Constitutional Law
  • National Security Law
  • Administrative Law
  • Human Rights
  • Russian Law


B.A., Yale University
M.PHIL., Oxford University
D.PHIL., Oxford University
J.D., University of Michigan


Constitutional Law
Administrative Law
Perspectives on Counterterrorism (Seminar)


Mrs. Shipley’s Ghost: The Right to Travel and Terrorist Watchlists 
University of Michigan Press, 2013
(Paperback 2014)

Federalism, Democratization, and the Rule of Law in Russia
Oxford University Press, 2002


U.S. Legal Topics
International Travel and the Constitution, 56 UCLA Law Review 271-350 (2008)

Zoya's Standing Problem, or, When Should the Constitution Follow the Flag?, 108 Michigan Law Review 673-725 (2010)

No-Limit Texas Hold’em, or, The Voir Dire in Dallas County, 13 Green Bag 2D 383-97 (2010)

Ten Questions on National Security (invited essay), 36 William Mitchell Law Review Journal of the National Security Forum 5041-5060 (2010)

The Extraordinary Mrs. Shipley: How the United States Controlled International Travel before the Age of Terrorism, 43 Connecticut Law Review 819-888 (2011) 

The Case of Colonel Abel, 5 Journal of National Security Law & Policy (2011)

The Nacirema Revisited, 67 SMU Law Review 807-19 (2014)

"Protection and Empire": The Martens Clause, State Sovereignty, and Individual Rights, 56 Virginia Journal of International Law (2016) (lead article)

Very Like A Whale:  Analogy & the Law, 13 Law, Culture & the Humanities (2015)

Russia and Rule-of-Law Topics
Freedom of Expression in Post-Soviet Russia, 18 UCLA Journal of International Law & Foreign Affairs 1-30 (2013) (lead article)

Report on the Verdict against M.B. Khodorkovsky and P.L. Lebedev, 4 Journal of Eurasian Law 321-534 (2011) (entire issue devoted to report) 

     cited by the European Court of Human Rights,
          Khodorkovskiy & Lebedev v. Russia, App.
          Nos. 11082/06 & 13772/05, July 25, 2013,
          at ¶¶ 362 & 890

The Unification of Law in the Russian Federation (with A. Trochev & N. Balayan), 25 Post-Soviet Affairs 310-46 (Oct.-Dec. 2009)

Vladimir Putin & the Rule of Law in Russia, 36 Georgia Journal of International & Comparative Law 511-58 (2008) (lead article)

     quoted in New York Times editorial, Russia’s Dictatorship
          of Law
, Nov. 21, 2010, Week in Review Section, p. 7

Russia’s Criminal Procedure Code Five Years Out, (with William Burnham) 33 Review of Central & East European Law 1-93 (2008) (lead article)

The Search for the Rule of Law in Russia, 37 Georgetown Journal of International Law 353-409 (2006)

Russia’s ‘Dictatorship of Law’ and the European Court of Human Rights, 29 Review of Central & East European Law 1-14 (2004) (lead article)

Russian Compliance with Articles Five & Six of the European Convention of Human Rights as a Barometer of Legal Reform & Human Rights in Russia, 35 Michigan Journal of Law Reform 641-94 (2002)

     translated into Russian as Кан Джеффри. Исполнение
          Россией ст. 5 и 6 ЕКПЧ как показатель соблюдения
          прав человека //Российский бюллетень по правам
          человека. № 17 (2003)

The Parade of Sovereignties: Establishing the Vocabulary of the New Russian Federalism, 16 Post-Soviet Affairs 58-89 (2000)

Book Chapters

Four chapters (on history, separation of powers, prevention detention, and freedom of the press), in NATIONAL SECURITY LAW AND THE CONSTITUTION (Aspen/Wolters Kluwer, forthcoming 2017) (with Geoffrey Corn & Jimmy Gurule)

The Richelieu Effect:  The Khodorkovsky Case and Political Interference with Justice, in LAW AND JUSTICE IN RUSSIA (Marina Kurkchiyan & Agnieszka Kubal eds., Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2017)

Terrorist Watchlists, in THE CAMBRIDGE HANDBOOK OR SURVEILLANCE LAW (David Gray & Stephen E. Henderson eds., Cambridge University PRess, forthcoming 2017)

The Law is a Causeway: Metaphor & the Rule of Law in Russia, in THE LEGAL DOCTRINES OF THE RULE OF LAW & THE LEGAL STATE  (Rechtsstaat)(Ius Gentium: Comparative Perspectives on Law & Justice, Vol. 38) 229-250 (Silkenat, Hickey, & Barenboim, eds., Springer, 2014)
How Federal Is The Russian Federation? (with Trochev & Balayan) in FEDERALISM & LEGAL UNIFICATION:  A COMPARATIVE EMPIRICAL INVESTIGATION OF TWENTY SYSTEMS (Ius Gentium: Comparative Perspectives on Law & Justice, Vol. 28) 355-390 (Halberstam & Reimann, eds., 2014) [republication of  Russian Federation, (with Trochev & Balayan) in Federalism & Legal Unification: A Comparative Empirical Investigation of Twenty Systems 257-282 (Halberstam, Reimann, & Sánchez-Córdero, eds., Int‘l Acad. Comp. Law, 2012)]
The Rule-of-Law Factor, in INSTITUTIONS, IDEAS AND LEADERSHIP IN RUSSIAN POLITICS  159-83 (J. Newton & Wm. Tompson eds., Palgrave Macmillan, 2010)
Adversarial Principles and the Case File in Russian Criminal Procedure, in RUSSIA & THE COUNSEL OF EUROPE:  TEN YEARS AFTER 107-33 (Malfliet & Parmentier eds., Palgrave Macmillan, 2010)
Presentation of Jeffrey Kahn, Occasional Paper #304: The Russian Constitution at Fifteen: Assessments & Current Challenges to Russia’s Legal Development 54-59 (Dresen & Pomeranz eds., Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, 2010)
Комментарий, Верховенство права и проблемы его обеспечения в правоприменительной практике (Москва: Издательство «Статут», 2009).
Putin’s Federal Reforms: A Legal-Institutional Perspective, in BEYOND THE GARDEN RING: DIMENSIONS OF RUSSIAN REGIONALISM 73-109 (Kivinen & Pynnöniemi eds., Kikimora, 2002)
What Is The New Russian Federalism?, in CONTEMPORARY RUSSIAN POLITICS:  A READER 374-83 (Archie Brown ed., Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001)
Федерализм и федератция, and Федерализм и демократия, in Основы теории и практики федерализма: Пособие для студентов высших учебных заведений 9-22 (K. Malfliet & L. Nasyrova eds., Garant, 1999)
Federalism, Democracy and Asymmetry: Issues in Comparative Perspective, in FEDERALISM: CHOICES IN LAW, INSTITUTIONS AND POLICY. A COMPARATIVE APPROACH  WITH FOCUS ON POLICY 23-39 (K. Malfliet & L. Nasyrova eds., Garant, 1998)