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


Quick Notes On The Rosenstein Revelations

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Friday, September 21, 2018

There is a lot to chew over in the blockbuster New York Times story about Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s erratic behavior in his first few weeks on the job, just after President Trump fired FBI Director Jim Comey on May 9, 2017.

The future of the GOP with Richard Nixon

The Watergate ‘Road Map’ And The Coming Mueller Report

by Stephen Bates, Jack Goldsmith, Benjamin Wittesvia Lawfare
Friday, September 14, 2018

According to countless media accounts and President Trump’s own lawyers, Special Counsel Robert Mueller is writing some kind of report on allegations of presidential obstruction of justice. Exactly what sort of report this may be is unclear. But to the extent that Mueller is contemplating a referral to Congress of possible impeachment material, he has two historical models of such documents to draw on.

Analysis and Commentary

Trump's Nuclear Option

by Jack Goldsmithvia The Weekly Standard
Wednesday, August 22, 2018

With Cohen and Manafort going to jail, the president could choose to burn the system down.

Analysis and Commentary

The Dangers In The Trump-Brennan Confrontation

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Monday, August 20, 2018

President Trump’s revocation of former CIA Director John Brennan’s security clearance brings together in an unfortunate way two pathological trends in the Trump era, and highlights the conundrum of the former intelligence official who wishes to speak out against the president’s attacks on the Russia investigation and the intelligence community more generally.

Executive Branch Crisis Lawyering And The “Best View”

by Jack Goldsmithvia The Georgetown Journal Of Legal Ethics
Tuesday, August 7, 2018

On about May 10, 2011, Bob Bauer, then White House Counsel (WHC), told President Barack Obama that he had a “looming” legal problem. On March 19th, Obama ordered extensive United States military air strikes on Libya that were legally controversial because they lacked congressional authorization.

Analysis and Commentary

Executive Branch Lawyering In Time Of Crisis

by Bob Bauer, Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Tuesday, August 7, 2018

We have complementary articles about the proper conception of lawyering for the president in times of crisis in the most recent issue of the Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics that we thought might be of interest to Lawfare readers.


The Rod Rosenstein 'Impeachment' Is A Sham

by Jack Goldsmithvia The Weekly Standard
Thursday, July 26, 2018

The July 25 resolution by 11 House Republicans introducing articles of impeachment against deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein is not a serious legal document.


Uncomfortable Questions In The Wake Of Russia Indictment 2.0 And Trump’s Press Conference With Putin

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Monday, July 16, 2018

Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his Justice Department/FBI team deserve congratulations for doing their job of figuring out in concrete detail what the Russians did in the 2016 election campaign and telling the American people about it—now in an indictment and perhaps later, and in more detail, in a report. Last week’s indictment might also portend, as the Lawfare crew implied, a tightening of the criminal-conspiracy noose to include Americans, perhaps some with connections to the Trump campaign.

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.


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.