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

Law’s Influencers

quoting Jack Goldsmithvia Harvard Law Today
Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Jack Goldsmith didn’t plan on building a behemoth. When the Harvard Law professor teamed up with University of Texas at Austin law professor Robert Chesney ’97 and Brookings Institution writer Benjamin Wittes to start the Lawfare blog in 2010, it was launched, he says, with “very modest ambitions and no planning.”

Analysis and Commentary

Review Of Harold Hongju Koh, The Trump Administration And International Law

by Jack Goldsmithvia SSRN
Monday, January 28, 2019

This essay reviews Harold Hongju Koh, The Trump Administration and International Law (2018). Its main conclusion is that Koh overstates the influence of transnational legal process in checking President Donald Trump's impact the U.S. stance toward international law and institutions.


Constitutional Issues Relating To The NATO Support Act

by Curtis A. Bradley, Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Monday, January 28, 2019

President Trump is making noises again about withdrawing the United States from the North Atlantic Treaty, which established NATO. Last week the House of Representatives voted 357-22 in support of the NATO Support Act. The bill does three things. First, it states the “sense of Congress” that the president “shall not withdraw the United States from NATO,” and that “the case Goldwater v. Carter is not controlling legal precedent.” 


On What Grounds Can The FBI Investigate The President As A Counterintelligence Threat?

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Sunday, January 13, 2019

The New York Times reported on Jan. 11 that the FBI “began investigating whether President Trump had been working on behalf of Russia against American interests” soon after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey in May 2017. In other words, the FBI opened a counterintelligence investigation on the president.

Analysis and Commentary

Executive Agreements: International Lawmaking Without Accountability?

by Jack Goldsmith, Curtis A. Bradley, Oona A. Hathawayvia Lawfare
Wednesday, January 9, 2019

In a post last month, we described the sharp decline in the presidential use of Article II treaties—reaching a new low in the Trump administration, which so far has submitted only one such treaty to the Senate. This decline does not mean that the United States has stopped concluding international agreements. 

Analysis and Commentary

A Qualified Defense Of The Barr Memo: Part I

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Friday, January 4, 2019

Daniel Hemel and Eric Posner have harshly criticized William Barr’s memo on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s obstruction of justice theory. They say (in the New York Times) that the memo “seriously damages [Barr’s] credibility and raises questions about his fitness for the Justice Department’s top position” and (later, on Lawfare) that the memo is “poorly reasoned.”

Analysis and Commentary

The Failure Of The United States’ Chinese-Hacking Indictment Strategy

by Jack Goldsmith, Robert D. Williamsvia Lawfare
Friday, December 28, 2018

Just before Christmas, the U.S. Department of Justice unsealed an indictment against two Chinese nationals who allegedly conducted a twelve-year “global campaign of computer intrusions” to steal sensitive intellectual property and related confidential business information from firms in a dozen states and from the U.S. government.

Analysis and Commentary

A Crisis That Hasn’t Happened

by Jack Goldsmithvia The Weekly Standard
Friday, December 14, 2018

When President Trump forced Attorney General Jeff Sessions to resign on November 7 and appointed the unqualified Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general, just about everyone assumed that special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation was in trouble. Whitaker, after all, had sharply criticized the investigation before coming to the Justice Department. And now he would be supervising Mueller with an array of tools—including the power to fire Mueller, to starve him of funds, and to reverse his important legal decisions—that could slow and maybe kill the investigation.

Analysis and Commentary

The Death Of Article II Treaties?

by Curtis A. Bradley, Oona A. Hathaway, Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Thursday, December 13, 2018

President Trump has submitted only one treaty to the Senate so far in his presidency. That is a historic low, and it is the latest sign that the Article II treaty process may be dying.

Analysis and Commentary

Winter 2018 Supplement For Bradley & Goldsmith, Foreign Relations Law: Cases And Materials

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Here is the Winter 2018 Supplement for Bradley & Goldsmith, Foreign Relations Law: Cases and Materials (6th ed. 2017). 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 Supreme 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.”