Melissa A. Waters

Professor of Law


B.A., magna cum laude, Yale College
J.D., Yale Law School

Curriculum Vitae




Beverly Owens - (314) 935-6482

Phone / Email

Phone: (314) 935-3458
E-mail: mawaters@wustl.edu 


Anheuser-Busch Hall, Room 544

Courses Taught

International Law
Foreign Relations Law
War on Terrorism
Conflicts of Law
International Human Rights Law
Civil Procedure


Professor Melissa A. Waters is an expert in international law, foreign relations law, international human rights law, and international conflicts of law. Her scholarship focuses on the intersection of international and domestic law, and in particular on the incorporation of treaties and other forms of international law into domestic legal regimes. She has written extensively on the role of transnational judicial dialogue in shaping international legal norms, and on the debate in Congress and in the media over the use of foreign and international law in interpreting the U.S. Constitution. Her work has been cited by Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and has been published in numerous top law journals and academic presses. Professor Waters serves on the law school’s Faculty Advisory Board for the Whitney R. Harris World Law Institute and is Washington University’s Ambassador to Utrecht University in the Netherlands in conjunction with the McDonnell International Scholars Academy. She was also a visiting faculty fellow at the Brookings Institution. Prior to entering law teaching, Professor Waters clerked for the Hon. Morris S. Arnold, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. She also practiced law for the Washington, D.C. firm of Williams & Connolly, where she was a member of President Clinton’s legal defense team. She served in the U.S. State Department as Senior Advisor to Harold Hongju Koh, Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights & Labor. Additionally, she was a consultant to the Soros Foundation Open Society Institute, specializing in the design, development, and implementation of rule of law and human rights capacity building projects. In addition to her scholarly work, Professor Waters specializes in developing and conducting human rights and rule of law training programs for legal professionals in transitional democracies, most recently partnering with the State Department, the Department of Justice, and ABA/CEELI to train judges and government officials from Iraq and Central Asia. Her work with Iraqi legal professionals has been featured on NPR’s All Things Considered. She is a proud native of Elm Springs, Arkansas.

Representative Publications

Forthcoming Scholarship and Works in Progress

  • Death Penalty Entrepreneurs: How the Europeans Are Taking Down the Death Penalty, One Country at a Time (and Why the U.S. Should Care) (a book project exploring the role of transnational norm entrepreneurs, and in particular Council of Europe and European Union institutions, in the worldwide decline of the death penalty and in the emergence of international legal norms prohibiting use of the death penalty)
  • "Creeping Dualism in the U.S. Legal System: Causes, Effects, and Prospects for the Future" (article manuscript)
  • "Diagonal Dialogue I: Reconceptualizing ‘Respectful Consideration’ for the New Dualist Era" (article manuscript)
  • "Diagonal Dialogue II: What Administrative Law Deference Frameworks Can Teach Us About Giving 'Respectful Consideration' to International Courts" (article manuscript)

Selected Publications

  • "Judicial Dialogue in Roper: Signaling the Court’s Emergence as a Transnational Legal Actor? (A Response to Mark Tushnet)," The U.S. Supreme Court and International Law: Continuity or Change? (eds. D. Sloss et al.), Cambridge University Press (2011)
  • "International Law as an Interpretive Tool, 1945–2000," The U.S. Supreme Court and International Law: Continuity or Change? (eds. D. Sloss et al.), Cambridge University Press (2011)
  • "The Attitudes of U.S. Courts Towards International Courts and Tribunals: Is Sanchez-Llamas a Model for Transnational Dialogue?," The United States and International Courts and Tribunals (ed. C. Romano), Cambridge University Press (2009)
  • "Getting Beyond the Crossfire Phenomenon: A Militant Moderate’s Take on the Role of Foreign Authority in Constitutional Interpretation," 77 Fordham Law Review (2008)

Representative Scholarship

  • "Creeping Monism: The Judicial Trend Toward Interpretive Incorporation of Human Rights Treaties," 107 Columbia Law Review 628 (2007)
  • "Mediating Norms and Identity: The Role of Transnational Judicial Dialogue in Creating and Enforcing International Law," 93 Georgetown Law Journal 487 (2005)(cited by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in his concurring opinion in Kansas v. Marsh, 126 S.Ct. 2516 (2006))
  • "On Fire Jumping, Cotton Farming, and Beekeeping: Frank Waters' Cardinal Rules of Lawyering," 56 Arkansas Law Review 15 (2003) (In Memoriam Tribute to the Honorable H. Franklin Waters, U.S. District Judge for the Western District of Arkansas)