Jack Goldsmith

Senior Fellow
Biography: 

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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Analysis and Commentary

Brett Kavanaugh Will Right The Course Of The Supreme Court

by Jack Goldsmithvia Time Magazine
Thursday, July 12, 2018

“A judge must be independent and must interpret the law, not make the law,” said Judge Brett Kavanaugh during his speech accepting the nomination to replace his former boss Anthony Kennedy as an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court.

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The Shape Of The Post-Kennedy Court

by Jack Goldsmithvia The Weekly Standard
Monday, July 2, 2018

Anthony Kennedy’s retirement has sparked a free-fall panic among progressives, Democrats, and others who for five decades have enjoyed the fruits of rule-by-judiciary on the nation’s most contested social issues. Left-of-center commentators have proclaimed that Roe is dead, that Kennedy’s famous gay rights opinions and saving fifth vote for affirmative action are on life support, and that we are on the verge of a radical conservative constitutional revolution.

Analysis and Commentary

Supplement To Curtis A. Bradley & Jack L. Goldsmith, Foreign Relations Law: Cases And Materials (6th ed. 2017)

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Monday, July 2, 2018

The Summer 2018 Supplement for Bradley & Goldsmith, Foreign Relations Law: Cases and Materials (6th ed. 2017) is now available online. These materials cover, among many other things, the Supreme Court’s decision in Trump v. Hawaii (the “travel ban” case), which is excerpted with questions; the Court’s decision in Jesner v. Arab Bank concerning corporate liability under the Alien Tort Statute; the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal; legal issues raised by U.S. missile strikes against Syria; President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel; and the debates and litigation concerning “sanctuary jurisdictions.”

The Supreme Court
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Justice Kennedy’s Retirement Leaves The Future Of U.S. Constitutional Law Entirely Up For Grabs

by Jack Goldsmithvia The Washington Post
Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy’s retirement from the Supreme Court after more than 30 years of service is the most consequential event in American jurisprudence at least since Bush v. Gore in 2000 and probably since Roe v. Wade in 1973. For three decades, he has been a guiding force on the court’s most consequential decisions, conservative and liberal. His departure leaves the future of U.S. constitutional law entirely up for grabs.

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The Failure Of Internet Freedom

by Jack Goldsmithvia Knight First Amendment Institute
Thursday, June 14, 2018

From the second term of the Clinton administration to the end of the Obama administration, the U.S. government pursued an “internet freedom” agenda abroad. The phrase “internet freedom” signaled something grand and important, but its meaning has always been hard to pin down. For purposes of this paper, I will use the phrase to mean two related principles initially articulated by the Clinton administration during its stewardship of the global internet in the late 1990s.

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Mueller Won’t Decide Trump’s Fate, Only The American Public Can

by Jack Goldsmithvia Time
Thursday, June 7, 2018

“The President is to have the laws executed,” wrote the Chief Executive. “He may order an offence then to be prosecuted,” but if he “sees a prosecution put into a train which is not lawful, he may order it to be discontinued.”

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Strengths Become Vulnerabilities: How A Digital World Disadvantages The United States In Its International Relations

by Jack Goldsmith, Stuart Russellvia Lawfare Blog
Wednesday, June 6, 2018

We have a new essay in the Hoover Aegis series called “Strengths Become Vulnerabilities: How a Digital World Disadvantages the United States in its International Relations.”  It seeks to explain why the United States is struggling to deal with the “soft” cyber operations that have been so prevalent in recent years: cyberespionage and cybertheft, often followed by strategic publication; information operations and propaganda; and relatively low-level cyber disruptions such as denial-of-service and ransomware attacks. 

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Strengths Become Vulnerabilities

by Jack Goldsmith, Stuart Russellvia Aegis Paper Series
Tuesday, June 5, 2018

This essay seeks to explain why the United States is struggling to deal with the “soft” cyberoperations that have been so prevalent in recent years: cyberespionage and cybertheft, often followed by strategic publication; information operations and propaganda; and relatively low-level cyber disruptions such as denial-of-service and ransomware attacks. The main explanation for the struggle is that constituent elements of U.S. society—a commitment to free speech, privacy, and the rule of law, innovative technology firms, relatively unregulated markets, and deep digital sophistication—create asymmetric weaknesses that foreign adversaries, especially authoritarian ones, can exploit. We do not claim that the disadvantages of digitalization for the United States outweigh the advantages, but we present reasons for pessimism.

Analysis and Commentary

OLC’s Meaningless 'National Interests' Test For The Legality Of Presidential Uses Of Force

by Jack Goldsmith, Curtis A. Bradleyvia Lawfare
Tuesday, June 5, 2018

The Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) published a legal opinion May 31 that explained the basis for its oral advice in April that President Trump had the authority under Article II of the Constitution to direct airstrikes against Syria. 

Analysis and Commentary

A Smorgasbord Of Views On Self-Pardoning

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Tuesday, June 5, 2018

"I have the absolute right to PARDON myself," tweeted President Trump, a few days ago. The president was presumably talking about a self-pardon for federal crimes already committed, not state crimes and not future crimes. Is he right? No president has ever tried to self-pardon and constitutional text does not speak overtly to the issue and there is no judicial precedent on point.

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