Kermit Roosevelt III

Kermit Roosevelt III (born July 14, 1971) is an American writer, author, lawyer, and professor at the University of Pennsylvania. He is a great-great-grandson of United States President Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919)[2] and the fifth cousin four times removed of President Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882–1945).

Kermit Roosevelt III
Kermit RooseveltIII.jpeg
Roosevelt reading at the Nantucket Atheneum
BornJuly 14, 1971 (age 47)
ResidencePhiladelphia, Pennsylvania
CitizenshipUnited States of America
Alma materHarvard University
Yale Law School
Years active1998–present[1]
Political partyDemocratic
RelativesSee Roosevelt family

Early life

Roosevelt was born in Washington, D.C. on July 14, 1971. His father, also named Kermit (born April 7, 1938), is a great-grandson of President Theodore Roosevelt. He graduated from St. Albans School (where he was a Presidential Scholar),[3] Harvard University, and Yale Law School. He was a law clerk for Judge Stephen F. Williams of the D.C. Circuit, and clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice David Souter.[4]


Roosevelt worked as a lawyer with Mayer Brown in Chicago from 2000 to 2002 before joining the Penn Law faculty in 2002.[4]

Roosevelt's areas of academic interest include conflicts of law and constitutional law. He has published in the Virginia Law Review, the Michigan Law Review, and the Columbia Law Review, among others, and his articles have been cited twice by the United States Supreme Court and numerous times by state and lower federal courts.

Some of his recent scholarly publications include "Detention and Interrogation in the Post-9/11 World," delivered as the Donahue Lecture at Suffolk University Law School in 2008, "Guantanamo and the Conflict of Laws: Rasul and Beyond" (2005), published in the University of Pennsylvania Law Review, "Constitutional Calcification: How the Law Becomes What the Court Does," University of Virginia Law Review (2005), and "Resolving Renvoi: the Bewitchment of Our Intelligence by Means of Language," Notre Dame Law Review (2005).[5]

Roosevelt is also an award-winning novelist. His debut novel In the Shadow of the Law (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2005) won the Philadelphia Athenaeum Annual Literary Award. A national campus bestseller, the novel was the New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice Selection and a Christian Science Monitor Best Book of the Year. In a 2005 New York Times review of Roosevelt's novel In the Shadow of the Law, Alan Dershowitz wrote, "I recommend this book with real enthusiasm. Why? Precisely because it doesn't glamorize its subject. Roosevelt's gritty portrayal of the transformation of bright-eyed and colorful young associates into dim-eyed and gray middle-aged partners (no one seems to make it to his or her golden years) rings true of all too many corporate law factories."[6] In 2006, Paramount filmed a pilot episode (written by Carol Mendelsohn) for a TV series based on the novel, starring Joshua Jackson, Frank Langella, Kevin Pollak, Monet Mazur, and Alan Tudyk.[7]

His second novel, Allegiance, published in 2015, was a Harper Lee Prize finalist. It received favorable reviews in The Wall Street Journal ("well worth reading") and The Richmond Times-Dispatch ("splendid, troubling, and authoritative") and a starred review from Publishers Weekly.[8][9][10] Based on actual events, the story examines U.S. national security policies during World War II, focusing on President Franklin D. Roosevelt's executive order 9066, which authorized the internment of Japanese Americans. Roosevelt studied court documents and personal diaries of key political figures, including Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black, J. Edgar Hoover, Felix Frankfurter, and Francis Biddle, to accurately portray the circumstances and motivations behind the decisions that led to the internment.[11] Allegiance recaptures the legal debates within the US government, including the Supreme Court cases Hirabayashi vs. United States and Korematsu vs. United States, and explores the moral issues surrounding U.S. national security policies.

In December, 2015, Kermit Roosevelt was a keynote speaker at The Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, California. Karen Korematsu, daughter of Fred Korematsu and director of The Korematsu Institute, attended the event. In May, 2016, Roosevelt and Karen Korematsu were featured speakers at the National Constitution Center for a program entitled, "Civil Liberties in Times of Crisis." Jess Bravin, the Supreme Court correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, served as moderator. It is the first time a member of the Roosevelt family and a member of the Korematsu family appeared in a public forum.[12]

In January, 2015, the Japan Society hosted an event featuring Kermit Roosevelt and actor/activist George Takei, who was five years old when he and his family were forced into an internment camp.[13] Takei called Roosevelt's book Allegiance, "A rip-roaring good read."

Roosevelt is a Distinguished Research Fellow of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania[14] and a member of the American Law Institute.[15] In November 2014, the American Law Institute announced that Roosevelt had been selected as the Reporter for the Third Restatement of Conflict of Laws.[16] Roosevelt is also a lecturer for Kaplan Bar Review. He prepares students in all 50 states for the Constitutional Law portion of the bar exam.[17]

Roosevelt is an internationally recognized expert on constitutional law, the Supreme Court, national security and civil liberties, US Presidential history, and Japanese American internment. He is a frequent contributor to national and international media outlets, including Time, The New York Times, the Huffington Post, and Newsmax. His TEDx talk (June, 2016) is entitled "Myth America: The Declaration, the Constitution, and Us."[18]



  • The Myth of Judicial Activism: Making Sense of Supreme Court Decisions. (2007) ISBN 0-300-11468-0.[19][20] - defends the Supreme Court against the charge of undue judicial activism[21]
  • Conflict of Laws (2010) - analytical overview of the field
  • edited with David Currie, Herma Hill Kay & Larry Kramer. Conflict of Laws: Cases, Comments, Questions (2010) - conflict-of-laws casebook


  • In the Shadow of the Law (2005)
  • Allegiance (2015)


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Teddy Roosevelt's great-great-grandson talks documentary, family". Retrieved 2017-03-28.
  3. ^ Presidential Scholars. Charles Elder. The Washington Post. DISTRICT WEEKLY; PAGE J3; PEOPLE. June 1, 1989.
  4. ^ a b "Politics skews perception on judicial rulings: author". STEPHANIE POTTER. Chicago Daily Law Bulletin Pg. 10001. January 23, 2007.
  5. ^ "Volume 80, Issue 5". Notre Dame Law Review. Archived from the original on December 7, 2011. Retrieved June 15, 2012.
  6. ^ Dershowitz, Alan M. (2005-06-12). "'In the Shadow of the Law': Their Finest Billable Hour". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-03-28.
  7. ^ "Capitol Law", Internet Movie Database, 2000-01-01, retrieved 2017-03-28
  8. ^ Lat, David (2015-08-21). "War Powers". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2017-03-28.
  9. ^ Strafford, Jay. "Book review (Fiction): 'Allegiance'". Richmond Times-Dispatch. Retrieved 2017-03-28.
  10. ^ "Fiction Book Review: Allegiance by Kermit Roosevelt". Retrieved 2017-03-28.
  11. ^ "Book review: Allegiance - to rules or justice? - SCOTUSblog". SCOTUSblog. 2015-09-29. Retrieved 2017-03-28.
  12. ^ "Civil Liberties in Times of Crisis: Japanese-American Internment and America Today - National Constitution Center". National Constitution Center – Retrieved 2017-03-28.
  13. ^ "Event Detail". Retrieved 2017-03-28.
  14. ^ "The Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania – Distinguished Research Fellows". The Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania. Retrieved 2017-03-28.
  15. ^ Institute, The American Law. "Members | American Law Institute". American Law Institute. Retrieved 2017-03-28.
  16. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-01-05. Retrieved 2015-01-05.
  17. ^ KaplanBarReview (2013-01-02), Constitutional Law - Excerpt of lecture by Professor Kermit Roosevelt, retrieved 2017-03-28
  18. ^ TEDx Talks (2016-08-30), Myth America: The Declaration, The Constitution, and Us | Kermit Roosevelt | TEDxBerkshires, retrieved 2017-03-28
  19. ^ Calhoun, Emily M. (June 1, 2007), "The Myth of Judicial Activism: Making Sense of Supreme Court Decisions (Book review)", Trial.
  20. ^ Hills, Roderick M. Jr. (November 1, 2007), "Mistaking the Window-Dressing for the Window", Judicature
  21. ^ Staff. (July 31, 2006), "The Myth of Judicial Activism: Making Sense of Supreme Court Decisions", Publishers Weekly Reviews: 67.

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