Professor Jeffrey Kahn Named University Distinguished Professor


Professor Jeffrey Kahn in the Dedman School of Law has been named University Distinguished Professor, an honor reserved for SMU faculty members who demonstrate the highest levels of academic achievement.

Professors are awarded the honor based on recommendations from their deans and endorsed by the Office of the Provost. The University Distinguished Professorships were created in 1982 by SMU’s Board of Trustees to celebrate outstanding faculty members, who receive cash awards and are appointed for a five-year rolling term.

Professor Kahn joined the Dedman Law 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. He was a 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.

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, critically examines the U.S. Government's No Fly List. Among other publications, his articles have appeared in the UCLA Law Review, Michigan 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).

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 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.