John Yoo

Visiting Fellow

John Yoo is a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution, professor of law at the University of California at Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall), and a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. From 2001 to 2003 he served as Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Office of Legal Council in the Justice Department of President George W. Bush. Professor Yoo is the author of a number of books, most recently of Crisis and Command: A History of Executive Power, From George Washington to George W. Bush.

John Yoo co-hosts the Pacific Century podcast with Michael Auslin, where they broadly address developments in China and Asia. They discuss the latest politics, economics, law, and cultural news, with a focus on US policy in the region.

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Recent Commentary

Analysis and Commentary

Comey’s Anti-Trump And Pro-Hillary Bias In 2016 Clear From New Developments – Why Was The Russia Probe Begun?

by John Yoovia Fox News
Saturday, December 22, 2018

In the Watergate scandal that ultimately forced him to resign from office, President Nixon tried to use the CIA and FBI to target his political enemies and to carry out dirty tricks to help him win re-election in 1972.


More On The Free-Exercise Clause And Religious Exemptions

by John Yoo, James C. Phillipsvia National Review
Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Despite a pair of recent responses by Ramesh Ponnuru and another by Professor Vincent Philip Muñoz, we continue to view the original understanding of the Constitution’s free-exercise clause to require exemptions to otherwise generally applicable laws except under certain conditions, such as harm to individuals, danger to the public, or the infringement of equal rights. 

Analysis and Commentary

An End To Racial Preferences At Last?

by John Yoo, James C. Phillipsvia National Review
Tuesday, December 4, 2018

The Supreme Court could be ready to rule that racial discrimination is illegal, even if it is purportedly done for a good cause.

Analysis and Commentary

On Religious Freedom, Madison Was Right

by James C. Phillips, John Yoovia National Review
Friday, November 30, 2018

We’re both fans of Ramesh Ponnuru. But we think he’s wrong in a recent post here on the Corner. There he argues that we are advocating an un-originalist position for the Free Exercise Clause: requiring the government accommodate religious dissenters from laws, except under certain conditions. He contends that our position is the one ushered in by the Supreme Court in 1963 in Sherbert v. Verner, which was replaced by Justice Scalia’s views for the court in 1990’s Smith. And Ramesh muses that Scalia was probably right.

Analysis and Commentary

Religion And The New Supreme Court

by John Yoo, James C. Phillipsvia National Review
Thursday, November 29, 2018

In the wake of the confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, religion will probably present the first test of the new Roberts Court’s commitment to the original meaning of the Bill of Rights. Religion has not become a constitutional battlefield just because conservatives tend to be more religious than liberals (though they are). Religion has not assumed legal importance solely because of the ongoing cultural conflict between traditional and secular visions of our society, either. Religion has taken center stage also because it has become the spiritual and moral refuge from an ever-expanding administrative state.

Analysis and Commentary

The Second(-Class) Amendment

by John Yoo, James C. Phillipsvia National Review
Monday, November 19, 2018

If liberals should fear the great contradiction between the Constitution’s text and their elevation of an unenumerated right to privacy (as we argued in our last article), conservatives must confront the same challenge with gun ownership. Despite the text of the Second Amendment, supporters of a right to bear arms have rooted their arguments in a murky pre-constitutional right to self-defense. 

Analysis and Commentary

Whitaker’s Appointment Is Unconstitutional

by John Yoovia Atlantic
Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Trump’s acting attorney general can’t legally hold the office—and that’s a problem for everyone.


Mr. President, Don’t Fire Mueller – It Will Hurt You And America

by Robert J. Delahunty, John Yoovia Fox News
Saturday, November 10, 2018

Now that he’s fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions, there’s speculation that President Trump will ask his newly appointed acting attorney general to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller in order to end Mueller’s probe of Russian interference in our 2016 presidential election and possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.

Analysis and Commentary

The New Supreme Court And Privacy Jurisprudence

by John Yoo, James C. Phillipsvia National Review
Thursday, November 8, 2018

This week’s election results suggest that Justice Brett Kavanaugh allowed Republicans to defy a Democratic blue wave and keep the Senate. Democratic senators in North Dakota, Indiana, and Missouri who voted against his confirmation lost their reelection bids by large margins, while the sole Democrat who voted for him held on in West Virginia. But Kavanaugh’s confirmation fight will have effects far beyond the elections to the core issues that are driving division between the parties: abortion, gay marriage, and privacy.


Settled Law: Birthright Citizenship And The 14th Amendment

by John Yoovia The American Mind
Friday, November 2, 2018
The 14th Amendment settled the question of birthright citizenship.