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

In the News

Ex-National Security Officials Sue To Limit Censorship Of Their Books

quoting Jack Goldsmithvia The New York Times
Tuesday, April 2, 2019

A newly filed lawsuit is challenging a censorship system the government uses to ensure that millions of former military and intelligence officials spill no secrets if they decide to write articles and books after they move on from public service.

In the News

If Democrats Want To Protect The Rule Of Law, They Can’t Rush The Mueller Report

quoting Jack Goldsmithvia The Washington Post
Friday, March 29, 2019

Democrats demanding the release of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s complete and unredacted report on his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election should pipe down, at least if they want to preserve a reputation for consistency. They spent over two years reminding us how important the rule of law is. They, more than anyone, should know that the law does not permit Attorney General William P. Barr to give them what they desire.


Jack Goldsmith On The Lawfare Podcast

interview with Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Hoover Institution fellow Jack Goldsmith discusses the early days of US and international climate action, how the Paris Agreement came into force and the predecessor agreements that gave rise to it, how it was supposed to operate, and what impacts President Trump's actions have had on international climate policy.

In the News

Do You Trust Attorney General William Barr?

quoting Jack Goldsmithvia Syracuse.com
Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Attorney General William Barr’s decision to go beyond Robert Mueller’s conclusions and clear the president of obstruction of justice raised many questions from lawmakers and legal experts. Months before taking the attorney general position, Barr wrote an unsolicited memo arguing Mueller crossed a legal line by looking into possible obstruction by the president. Many worry this memo indicates Barr already made up his mind before seeing Mueller’s actual report.

In the News

'Stormy Weather Lies Ahead': What Lawyers Are Saying About Barr's Obstruction Call

quoting Jack Goldsmithvia The National Law Journal
Monday, March 25, 2019

President Donald Trump and his supporters boasted Sunday of a “total and complete exoneration” by the special counsel investigating Russia’s ties to his 2016 presidential campaign, but that wasn’t entirely the case—at least when it comes to whether the president tried to obstruct the special counsel’s investigation.


Jack Goldsmith: A Former Justice Department Lawyer Reads Robert Mueller’s (And William Barr’s) Conclusions

interview with Jack Goldsmithvia The New Yorker
Sunday, March 24, 2019

Hoover Institution fellow Jack Goldsmith discusses the end of the Mueller investigation and Attorney General William Barr's summary of the “principal conclusions” of a report.

Partial map of the Internet based on the January 15, 2005 data found on opte.org
Analysis and Commentary

Sovereign Difference And Sovereign Deference On The Internet

by Jack Goldsmithvia Yale Law Journal
Monday, March 18, 2019

A theory of global internet governance underlies Andrew Woods’s analysis of how judicial comity doctrines should apply to cross-border data disputes. First is the principle of sovereignty. Nations are sovereign in the sense that they wield legitimate and usually effective authority within a territory, including authority over data and data infrastructure in the territory, and over the people and firms in the territory that use the data and infrastructure. Second, national boundaries roughly reflect differences in the histories, commitments, cultures, norms, and individual and aggregate preferences that governments roughly want to preserve. 

In the News

Rules Of Cyber Road For America, Russia

quoting Jack Goldsmithvia The Korea Times
Tuesday, March 12, 2019

The United States responded weakly after Russian cyber operations disrupted the 2016 presidential election. U.S. President Barack Obama had warned his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, of repercussions, but an effective reply became entangled in the domestic politics of Donald Trump's election. That could be about to change.

In the News

Rules Of The Cyber Road For America And Russia

quoting Jack Goldsmithvia Project Syndicate
Tuesday, March 5, 2019

In the cyber realm, the difference between a weapon and a non-weapon may come down to a single line of code, or simply the intent of a computer program’s user. While this makes negotiating cyber arms-control treaties problematic, it does not make diplomacy impossible.

In the News

When Is Impeachment The Right Remedy?

quoting Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Monday, March 4, 2019

There is a tendency to think of impeachable offenses as like landmines. If the president accidentally or purposefully steps on one, then it explodes and he must suffer the consequences. Constitutional lawyers might find this line of thinking particularly attractive because it would allow them to get to work on identifying a finite set of actions as high crimes and misdemeanors and to set Congress about the business of determining whether the president has actually committed such offenses.