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

New report questions effectiveness of cyber indictments

by Jack Goldsmith
Thursday, February 21, 2019

... the indictment strategy appears to be a magnificent failure,” Jack Goldsmith, a Harvard law professor and former assistant attorney general in the ...

In the News

New Report Questions Effectiveness Of Cyber Indictments

quoting Jack Goldsmith, Sean Kanuckvia Fifth Domain
Thursday, February 21, 2019

A recent report throws cold water on one of the U.S. government’s key pillars for what it calls whole-of-government deterrence in cyberspace: indictments. According to cyberthreat intelligence firm CrowdStrike’s 2019 Global Threat report, nation-state actors do not seem deterred in the face of legal actions.


In Praise Of Justice Department Independence Norms (And Of Matthew Whitaker)

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Wednesday, February 20, 2019

When President Trump appointed the unqualified Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general on Nov. 7, 2018, many prominent people believed that the country faced yet another “constitutional crisis” point.

In the News

Trump Might Have A Solid Case For Emergency Declaration, Analysts Say

quoting Jack Goldsmithvia The Guardian
Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Many legal analysts who watched Donald Trump declare a national emergency over immigration on Friday thought the president had weak legal grounds for doing so. In particular, many thought Trump hurt his own case by admitting, right there in the White House Rose Garden: “I didn’t need to do this, but I’d rather do it much faster."

In the News

Trump’s Emergency Declaration, John Yoo’s Take

quoting Jack Goldsmith, John Yoovia Powerline
Monday, February 18, 2019

Over the weekend, I linked to Jack Goldsmith’s article on President Trump’s use of national emergency power to come up with the money to build more border fencing. Goldsmith took no position at this early date on the legality of Trump’s move. However, his initial view is that hysteria over it is misplaced and that Trump’s legal position is plausible.

In the News

Hold The Hysteria Over Trump’s Emergency Declaration

quoting Jack Goldsmithvia Powerline
Saturday, February 16, 2019

President Trump’s decision to declare a national emergency and move funds around to pay for more wall building is certain to be challenged in court. The case almost surely will arrive at the Supreme Court.

In the News

Goldsmith On The Emergency Declaration

quoting Jack Goldsmithvia National Review
Saturday, February 16, 2019

In a post worth reading in full, he knocks down some of the hysteria about this action: Trump’s actions have been greeted with now-familiar claims that he is sparking a constitutional crisis or threatening the rule of law. Considering just the substance of what Trump has done, these are large exaggerations. Everything Trump proposes to do purports to be grounded in congressional statutes and much of what he aims to do does not rely on emergency power.

Analysis and Commentary

What Is And Isn’t A Big Deal In Trump’s Executive Actions Related To The Border

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Saturday, February 16, 2019

On Feb. 15, President Trump took a number of legal steps, including declaring a national emergency and invoking emergency authorities, in connection with his efforts to construct a wall on the southern border. There are important senses in which Trump’s actions are a big deal, and important senses in which they are not nearly as big a deal as many contend.

In the News

You May Be Disappointed By The Mueller Report

with Jack Goldsmithvia NBC News
Thursday, February 14, 2019

Millions of Americans are waiting for Robert Mueller to give them the final word on whether the Trump campaign conspired with the 2016 Russian election interference effort — and whether their president is under the influence of a foreign adversary.


William Barr’s Remarkable Non-Commitments About The Mueller Report

by Jack Goldsmith, Maddie McMahonvia Lawfare
Wednesday, February 13, 2019

“I don’t think there’ll be a report,” President Trump’s former attorney, John Dowd, recently told ABC News. “I will be shocked if anything regarding the president is made public, other than ‘We’re done.’” Referring to a possible report by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Dowd suggested Mueller won’t release a detailed public accounting of the results of the investigation because he has nothing on Trump.