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

Analysis and Commentary

Here’s A Better Way To Protect Our Inspectors General

by Jack Goldsmithvia The Washington Post
Monday, June 1, 2020

Inspectors general are under attack. President Trump’s recent termination of State Department Inspector General Steve Linick was the fifth time in two months that Trump has fired or removed inspectors general and sought to replace them with officials he perceives to be more loyal. Congress, including important Republicans, is finally stirring to protect these internal agency watchdogs. But the focus on trying to make it harder for the president to remove inspectors general is misplaced.

Analysis and Commentary

Legal Issues Implicated By Trump's Firing Of The State Department Inspector General

by Jack Goldsmith, Ben Miller-Gootnickvia Lawfare
Monday, May 18, 2020

On Friday, May 15, President Trump announced in a letter to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi that he was firing State Department Inspector General Steve Linick. Several sources have reported that Stephen Akard, the Senate-confirmed director of the State Department’s Office of Foreign Missions, will replace Linick in an acting capacity. Trump’s firing of Linick is almost certainly lawful. However, it is unclear whether Trump can immediately replace Linick with Akard, if that is the plan.

Analysis and Commentary

The Failed Transparency Regime For Executive Agreements: An Empirical And Normative Analysis

by Oona A. Hathaway, Curtis A. Bradley, Jack Goldsmithvia SSRN
Thursday, April 30, 2020

The Constitution specifies only one process for making international agreements. Article II states that the President “shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur.” The treaty process has long been on a path to obsolescence, however, with fewer and fewer treaties being made in each presidential administration. Nevertheless, the United States has not stopped making international agreements. Even as Article II treaties have come to a near halt, the United States has concluded hundreds of binding international agreements each year. These agreements, known as “executive agreements,” are made by the President without submitting them to the Senate, or to Congress, at all. Congress has responded to the rise of executive agreements by imposing a transparency regime—requiring that all the binding executive agreements be reported to Congress and that important agreements be published for the public to see.


Jack Goldsmith On The Lawfare Podcast: Thomas Rid On 'Active Measures,' Part 1

interview with Jack Goldsmithvia The Lawfare Podcast
Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Hoover Institution fellow Jack Goldsmith discusses, with Thomas Rid, the history of disinformation from the beginning of the 20th century through the 1980s.

Analysis and Commentary

Internet Speech Will Never Go Back To Normal

by Jack Goldsmith, Andrew Keane Woodsvia The Atlantic
Saturday, April 25, 2020

In the debate over freedom versus control of the global network, China was largely correct, and the U.S. was wrong.

Analysis and Commentary

The Growth Of Press Freedoms In The United States Since 9/11

by Jack Goldsmithvia SSRN
Monday, April 13, 2020

The number, frequency, and seriousness of leaks of classified information have grown sharply in the last two decades. The government has reacted to these leaks with several initiatives to stop or deter them. Journalists and their allies, in turn, have complained that these initiatives have narrowed press freedoms and damaged the First Amendment.


Jack Goldsmith On Heartland Politics With Robin Johnson

interview with Jack Goldsmithvia KBUR
Friday, April 10, 2020

Hoover Institution fellow Jack Goldsmith discusses his recent book "In Hoffa's Shadow: A Stepfather, a Disappearance in Detroit, and My Search for the Truth."


Jack Goldsmith On The Lawfare Podcast: Stephen Holmes On Liberalism In The 21st Century

interview with Jack Goldsmithvia The Lawfare Podcast
Saturday, April 4, 2020

Hoover Institution fellow Jack Goldsmith discusses with Stephen Holmes the fate of liberalism in the decades following the fall of the Berlin Wall, Holmes’s experience studying Eastern European politics, the problems with trying to export liberalism across the globe, and the factors that have led to the global rise of illiberal leaders.

Analysis and Commentary

A Presidential Succession Nightmare

by Jack Goldsmith, Ben Miller-Gootnickvia Lawfare
Wednesday, March 25, 2020

“Before Virus Outbreak, a Cascade of Warnings Went Unheeded,” declared the New York Times headline. The story concerned an October 2019 report by the Department of Health and Human Services that laid out an influenza pandemic scenario much like the one that is now upon us. The report made clear that our current situation was foreseeable and indeed was foreseen. 


Jack Goldsmith On The Lawfare Podcast: Joseph Nye On "Do Morals Matter?: Presidents And Foreign Policy From FDR To Trump"

interview with Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Monday, March 9, 2020

Hoover Institution fellow Jack Goldsmith talks with Joseph Nye to discuss his new book, Do Morals Matter?