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

The President Can’t Kill The Mueller Investigation

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Monday, January 1, 2018

One of most remarkable stories of 2017 was the extent to which President Donald Trump was prevented from executing his many pledges—both on the campaign trail and in office—to violate the law. As predicted, courts, the press, the bureaucracy, civil society, and even Congress were aggressive and successful in stopping or deterring Trump from acting unlawfully.*

Analysis and Commentary

The Strange WannaCry Attribution

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Thursday, December 21, 2017

I’ve been trying to figure out why the U.S. government thought it was useful to attribute the “WannaCry” attack to North Korea. WannaCry was a global ransomware attack that hit hundreds of thousands of computers, cost billions of dollars in damage, and compromised U.K. healthcare computers in ways that “put lives at risk.”

Analysis and Commentary

Foreign Relations Law Casebook Supplement

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Monday, December 18, 2017

The new Supplement for Curtis A. Bradley and Jack Goldsmith, Foreign Relations Law: Cases and Materials (6th ed. 2017), is now available. These materials update the casebook, and in particular address litigation over the Trump administration’s executive orders relating to its “travel ban,” the administration’s announcement that the United States would withdraw from the Paris climate change agreement, the debates and litigation concerning “sanctuary jurisdictions,” President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and legal issues raised by various U.S. missile strikes in Syria and by the military detention of a U.S. citizen who was allegedly fighting on behalf of the Islamic State.


On The Russian Proposal For Mutual Noninterference In Domestic Politics

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Monday, December 11, 2017

In January, I floated the “contrarian” idea that the United States should consider cutting back on its threatening activities in Russia’s digital networks, including its “Internet Freedom” efforts to promote democracy in Russia, in exchange for Russia agreeing not to interfere in U.S. elections going forward. I am well aware of the many downsides of and hurdles to such cooperation.


In Defense Of Rosenstein’s And Wray’s Responses To Trump

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Wednesday, December 6, 2017

I wrote Monday morning about costs within the Justice Department when its leaders stay silent in the face of the President’s caustic attacks on the department’s independence and integrity. I mentioned in particular the silence of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and FBI Director Christopher Wray.

Analysis and Commentary

The Cost Of Trump's Attacks On The FBI

by Jack Goldsmithvia The Atlantic
Monday, December 4, 2017

When cabinet officials don’t push back on Trump’s efforts to delegitimize their agencies, they leave their staff frustrated and demoralized.


Does Congress Care That The President Controls International Law?

by Jack Goldsmith, Curtis A. Bradleyvia Lawfare
Thursday, November 30, 2017

We have a new draft paper, forthcoming in the Harvard Law Review, on how extensively the president has come to control international law for the United States, and what, if anything, should be done about it. As we explain at the end of this post, one of the central questions implicated by the paper is: Does Congress care?

Analysis and Commentary

Elite Colleges Are Making It Easy For Conservatives To Dislike Them

by Jack Goldsmith, Adrian Vermeulevia The Washington Post
Thursday, November 30, 2017

Drew Gilpin Faust, the president of Harvard University, has been lobbying in Washington against a Republican proposal to tax large university endowments and make other tax and spending changes that might adversely affect universities. Faust says the endowment tax would be a “blow at the strength of American higher education” and that the suite of proposals lacks “policy logic.”


The Ease Of Writing An OLC Opinion In Support Of Military Action Against North Korea

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Thursday, September 14, 2017

I’ve been asked a lot recently about the President’s power under Article II to order a military strike on North Korea in the absence of congressional authorization. The proper meaning of Article II on this question is contested and I won’t offer my views on that here. But the only opinion about Article II that effectively matters on this question is the Executive branch’s. 

How Trump Is Destroying America

by Jack Goldsmith
Tuesday, September 12, 2017

He disdains the rule of law. He’s trampling norms of presidential behavior. And he’s bringing vital institutions down with him.