Jack Goldsmith

Senior Fellow

Jack Goldsmith is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the Henry L. Shattuck Professor of Law at Harvard University. From 2003 to 2004, he served as the assistant attorney general, Office of Legal Counsel; from 2002 to 2003 he served as the special counsel to the general counsel of the Department of Defense. Goldsmith also taught at the University of Chicago Law School from 1997 to 2002 and at the University of Virginia Law School from 1994 to 1997.

In his academic work, Goldsmith has written widely on issues related to national security law, presidential power, international law, and Internet regulation. His books include Power and Constraint: The Accountable Presidency after 9/11 (2012), The Terror Presidency: Law and Judgment inside the Bush Administration (2009), Who Controls the Internet: Illusions of a Borderless World (with Tim Wu) (2006), and The Limits of International Law (with Eric Posner) (2005). He blogs on national security matters at the Lawfare blog,and on issues of labor law and policy at the On Labor blog.

Goldsmith is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He holds a JD from Yale Law School, a BA and an MA from Oxford University, and a BA from Washington & Lee University. He clerked for Supreme Court justice Anthony M. Kennedy, Court of Appeals judge J. Harvie Wilkinson, and Judge George Aldrich on the Iran-US Claims Tribunal.

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Recent Commentary

Hoover Book Soiree, Reminder: Rosa Brooks On "How Everything Became War And The Military Became Everything"

by Jack Goldsmith, Benjamin Wittes
Monday, September 26, 2016

The next in our series of book soirees at the Hoover Institution's Washington Office will take place on Wednesday, when Ben interviews Rosa Brooks about her new book: How Everything Became War and the Military Became Everything: Tales from the Pentagon.


Why President Obama Won't, and Shouldn't, Pardon Snowden

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Friday, September 16, 2016

A “pardon Snowden” campaign was launched Wednesday, in conjunction with the Snowden film. Snowden himself made the “moral case” case for why he should be pardoned, and Tim Edgar made a much more powerful case. I remain unconvinced. I don’t think the President will, or should, pardon Snowden.


Why Obama Should Veto 9/11 Families Bill

by Jack Goldsmith, Steve Vladeck via CNN
Tuesday, September 13, 2016

President Obama has said he will veto the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, a bill that purports to make it easier for 9/11 victims and their families to sue Saudi Arabia in US federal court for its alleged role in indirectly financing the attacks.


The Other Forever War Anniversary

by Jack Goldsmith, Matthew Waxmanvia Time
Saturday, September 10, 2016

The United States had been bombing the Islamic State sporadically throughout the summer of 2014, under the President’s Article II Commander-in-Chief power. But at about the time on September 10 when President Obama announced the United States’ ramped-up efforts “to degrade and ultimately destroy” the Islamic State, he also shifted the legal basis for the effort to the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) that had been the foundation for the conflict against the Taliban, al Qaeda, and Associates since a few days after the 9/11 attacks. 


Quick Reactions To Obama’s UN Gambit On Nuclear Testing

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Friday, August 5, 2016

Josh Rogin of the Washington Post reports that “President Obama has decided to seek a new United Nations Security Council resolution that would call for an end to nuclear testing, a move that leading lawmakers are calling an end run around Congress.” The piece’s title says Obama’s gambit will “bypass” Congress.

Analysis and Commentary

Yet More Thoughts On The DNC Hack: Attribution And Precedent

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Wednesday, July 27, 2016

David Sanger and Eric Schmitt report this morning that American intelligence officials “now have ‘high confidence’ that the Russian government was behind the theft of emails and documents from the Democratic National Committee.”

Analysis and Commentary

Obama's Legal Legacy Of Light Footprint Warfare

by Jack Goldsmith, Matthew Waxmanvia Lawfare
Tuesday, July 26, 2016

We have a new piece in The Washington Quarterly, titled “The Legal Legacy of Light-Footprint Warfare.”  President Obama’s approach to military intervention has generally emphasized stealthy and often long-distance warfare as an alternative to his predecessor’s heavy “boots on the ground” approach. 

Analysis and Commentary

More Thoughts On The DNC Hack

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Earlier today I wrote the following tweets, collected here in one place, in reaction to the DNC hack.


What Is Old, And New, And Scary In Russia’s Probable DNC Hack

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Monday, July 25, 2016

David Sanger and Nicole Perlroth of the NYT summarize the evidence of a Russia-based hack of the DNC emails.

Analysis and Commentary

Can Congress Invent New Offenses Against The Law Of Nations?

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Lawfare’s Alex Loomis has an excellent paper on SSRN that might interest Lawfare readers: The Power to Define Offences against the Law of Nations