Was Dean Janet Levit’s Nomination Blocked Due to Her Views on International Law?

by Julian Ku

Apparently, Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma is blocking the nomination of Dean Janet Levit, of University of Tulsa Law School, to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.  The Daily Oklahoman reports:

Oklahoma City attorney Mike Turpen, a longtime Democratic Party fundraiser with ties to the White House, said Coburn told him in July that Levit was not going to receive his backing, effectively killing any chance that she could get through the U.S. Senate.

According to Turpen and other attorneys familiar with the situation, Levit’s nomination was close to being finalized. White House visitor logs show Levit met twice in October with a White House official overseeing judicial nominations.

If the report is true, this would be a real shame because there is nothing about Janet Levit’s scholarship that suggests she would misuse international law in her capacity as a federal judge.  While she has a different approach than me on many things, her scholarship is not about the use of international law  in constitutional interpretation, which is what Coburn is supposedly concerned about.  (For a brief description of her views on various subjects, see here).

I actually suspect the real reason for blocking her nomination is not international law but pure politics. Coburn has his own candidates for judgeships out of Oklahoma, and unfortunately for Janet, she’s not one of them. But I do hope that her scholarship on international law has not played a role here in denying her the judgeship.


One Response

  1. I gave the article to my IL students today so that they could decide to quit the class if they were thinking strategically to 30 years from now if they hoped to be a federal judge! God forbid that a judge have some knowledge of international law.

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