Douglas Kmiec, the conservative Pepperdine University law professor and prominent supporter of President Barack Obama, is likely headed to the Mediterranean.
The White House said today that Obama has chosen Kmiec as the new ambassador to Malta, the archipelago nation south of Italy. Though originally a supporter of Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, Kmiec has been a high-profile defender of the Obama administration and its personnel choices. He recently has come to the defense of Dawn Johnsen, nominated to head the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, even as Republicans have held up Johnsen’s nomination because of her views on abortion and national security.
Kmiec was a deputy assistant attorney general in the Office of Legal Counsel during the Reagan administration. At the end of his second term, Reagan appointed Kmiec to lead the office, which advises the executive branch on the legality of a wide variety of policies. Kmiec was dean of Catholic University’s law school from 2001 to 2003, and he was a longtime professor at the University of Notre Dame’s law school.
The White House notes that he has some experience working abroad: Kmiec was a Fulbright Fellow in Asia in 1987, lecturing in Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur.
Ambassadorships require Senate confirmation.