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Jack Goldsmith

  • Nixon giving

    Watergate-era reforms 50 years later

    June 8, 2022

    Harvard Law Professor Jack Goldsmith says laws and norms established after President Nixon's resignation 'had a great run,' but the Trump presidency proved that new reforms are needed.

  • A man in a blue blazer stands in front of a building on the Harvard Law School campus.

    Engaging in good faith discussion

    April 27, 2022

    Federalist Society President Jacob Richards ’22, who describes himself as a classical liberal, appreciates engaging in good faith discussion of hard issues at HLS.

  • Goldsmith: Trump has a genius for exploiting loopholes

    February 18, 2022

    Jack Goldsmith, who served in Office of Legal Counsel under George W. Bush, says laws regulating presidents must be reformed before Trump can be reelected.

  • Man sitting at desk cluttered with papers

    In Memoriam: Philip B. Heymann 1932 – 2021

    December 4, 2021

    A highly principled public official and beloved colleague, Heymann had a distinguished career in academia, and serving in four presidential administrations, including in the solicitor general’s office under President John F. Kennedy, in several U.S. State Department jobs for Lyndon Johnson, as a Watergate prosecutor, as assistant attorney general during the Carter administration, and as deputy attorney general under Bill Clinton.

  • Man sitting at desk cluttered with papers

    In Memoriam: Philip B. Heymann 1932 – 2021

    December 2, 2021

    When asked what he wanted to be remembered by, longtime Harvard Law Professor and former Watergate prosecutor Philip B. Heymann ’60 replied: “Speaking truth to power.” Heymann, a beloved colleague and distinguished public servant, died Nov. 30 at his home in Los Angeles. He was 89.

  • Trump strategist Steve Bannon indicted on contempt charges in Jan. 6 investigation

    November 12, 2021

    Steve Bannon, former President Donald Trump’s political strategist, was indicted by a grand jury Friday on two charges of criminal contempt for defying a House subpoena. ...Biden told reporters Oct. 15 he hoped the committee “goes after” people who defy subpoenas “and holds them accountable criminally.” Asked whether they should be prosecuted, Biden replied: “I do, yes.” Biden told a CNN town hall Oct. 21 that what he said wasn’t appropriate. He said the department would make its own decision about whether to prosecute. “I did not, have not, and will not pick up the phone and call the attorney general and tell him what he should or should not do in terms of who he should prosecute,” Biden said. Jack Goldsmith, a Harvard law professor, tweeted that any prosecution of Bannon, which he considered legally justified, “will be tainted by Biden’s remark.”

  • Garland vs. Bannon Is Bidenism vs. Trumpism

    October 27, 2021

    Few people have made their names in Washington more differently than Attorney General Merrick Garland and the Republican political operative Steve Bannon. ... In the days and weeks ahead, Garland must decide whether to criminally prosecute Bannon, a step that could result in one of Trump’s top allies being sent to jail. Last Thursday, the House held Bannon in contempt for refusing to testify before its select committee investigating the January 6th insurrection. ... Until now, the Justice Department has generally declined to prosecute former Administration officials who defied Congressional subpoenas... Jack Goldsmith, a Harvard law professor who served as a senior Justice Department official during the George W. Bush Administration, predicted that Garland will be criticized for whatever action he takes, saying, “Both prosecuting contempt and not doing so have downsides and will invite criticism.”

  • Inspector General Reform on the Table

    October 6, 2021

    An article by Bob Bauer and Jack Goldsmith: At the top of the list of those responsible for executive branch accountability in the 21st century are the statutory inspectors general that now populate every major executive branch agency. On Wednesday, Oct. 6, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs will consider three bills—the Securing Inspector General Independence Act of 2021, the IG Testimonial Subpoena Authority Act and the IG Independence and Empowerment Act—that would expand the independence and power of inspectors general in important respects. This post reviews the central reforms, urges the passage of one of them, and assesses the others.

  • Congress Should Seize This Chance to Get Its Power Back

    October 5, 2021

    An op-ed by Bob Bauer and Jack Goldsmith: House Democrats late last month introduced the Protecting Our Democracy Act — a bill to curb presidential power that has been widely characterized as a “point-by-point rebuke of the ways that President Donald J. Trump flouted norms,” as the New York Times put it. Trump did indeed aggressively flout norms, but this is a misleading lens through which to view many of the important reforms to the presidency in the bill. The truth is that the bill’s central tenets address problems that arose during recent presidencies of both parties, and that Congress as an institution should want to check. Consider the bill’s proposals to qualify the presidential pardon power by making it a crime to offer a pardon in exchange for a bribe. Trump issued a number of politically and personally self-serving pardons that many commentators thought might rise to the level of bribery. But former President Bill Clinton faced these criticisms at the end of his term after he pardoned Marc Rich, whose wife had previously donated $450,000 to the Clinton Foundation. In fact, the Southern District of New York instituted a federal criminal investigation. The PODA provision would have a powerful and salutary effect in prohibiting pardons as part of a bribery scheme involving presidents.

  • L.O. Natt Gantt

    Gantt named executive director of Program on Biblical Law and Christian Legal Studies at HLS

    September 13, 2021

    L.O. Natt Gantt, II ’94 has been appointed the inaugural executive director of the Harvard Law School Program on Biblical Law and Christian Legal Studies and a lecturer on law at HLS.

  • Afghanistan Collapse and Strikes in Somalia Raise Snags for Drone Warfare Rules

    August 30, 2021

    The Biden administration has nearly completed a policy to govern counterterrorism drone strikes and commando raids outside conventional war zones, but the abrupt collapse of the Afghan government and a recent flurry of strikes in Somalia have raised new problems, according to current and former officials. ... But creating any bureaucratic system and planning for drone strikes cut against Mr. Biden’s repeated statements that he wants to end the forever war, said Jack Goldsmith, a Harvard Law School professor who frequently writes about national security legal policy. “I don’t blame them because I think real threats persist,” he added. “It’s better to have a system for dealing with them than just letting the Pentagon do whatever it wants. But creating a system for drone strikes doesn’t sound like the path to winding down the forever war.”

  • The front page of the New York Times on a printing press

    The Pentagon Papers case today

    June 21, 2021

    Does the First Amendment still protect the press when it lawfully receives classified information unlawfully obtained?

  • Sean Quirk and Seungyeon Lee

    ‘We’re both so thankful’ for Harvard Law School

    May 25, 2021

    Navy veteran Sean Quirk found a home for his interest in U.S.-China relations as a student at HLS — while one of its clinics supported his wife Sue's immigration process.

  • Mark Gillespie

    Faith and fellowship

    May 18, 2021

    Growing up with a father in the Air Force, Mark Gillespie ’21 moved around a lot as a child. But far from this being a negative, Gillespie says it gave him the sense that life’s possibilities were endless.

  • United States Supreme Court in Washington DC

    President Biden appoints 16 Harvard Law School faculty and alumni to panel studying Supreme Court reform

    April 14, 2021

    President Biden appointed 16 members of the Harvard Law School community — seven faculty and nine alumni — to a new presidential commission on the Supreme Court of the United States.

  • Here’s Merrick Garland’s Orientation Memo for the Trump-Era Hangover on Press Freedom

    March 10, 2021

    When President Biden announced the nomination of Merrick Garland as the next attorney general, Biden criticized incendiary rhetoric against the press as contributing to the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol. A new president—and new leadership at the Department of Justice—will mean turning a corner on a strenuous four years, in which the Justice Department was repeatedly drawn into then-President Trump’s attacks on journalists and First Amendment rights...Though the concern over politicized regulatory actions will wane with Trump’s departure, we urge the Biden administration to support concrete steps to prevent antitrust or other common regulatory tools (for instance, the securities laws, tax audits by the IRS, or oversight of the telecommunications industry) from being misused in this way. In their recent book “After Trump,” which was published by the Lawfare Institute, former White House counsel Bob Bauer and Harvard law professor Jack Goldsmith propose amending the Inspector General Act to empower inspectors general to investigate official acts that constitute a “reprisal against or an attempt to harass or intimidate” news media organizations or journalists. Given the Justice Department’s resistance to permitting discovery into facts that might support selective enforcement defenses, the Bauer-Goldsmith proposal would be a welcome check against executive branch overreaching in any administration.

  • Due Process

    February 17, 2021

    As recently as 10 years ago, Jeannie Suk Gersen was still telling people that the area of law she specialized in—sexual assault and domestic violence—didn’t hold much interest for the general public. A quiet corner of the profession, she thought. Remembering that now, she laughs. “But, you know,” she adds, “every area of law does end up moving into focus. Because, in the end, law is really about every aspect of our lives.” Which is partly why Gersen, J.D. ’02, has always taken it so seriously. “Words don’t just describe things,” she explains. In the law, “words actually do things.” ... “Jeannie is intellectually fearless,” says Bemis professor of international law Jonathan Zittrain. That’s a common sentiment among her colleagues... “There are a lot of people who are afraid to say things in our business,” says Learned Hand professor of law Jack Goldsmith, “and she’s not afraid to say what she thinks.” ... “Her whole response to Title IX has been very, very striking—and I think completely correct,” says Beneficial professor of law Charles Fried, who was Gersen’s teacher before he was her colleague ... Says her former teacher, Loeb University Professor emeritus Laurence Tribe, “I was always impressed by how both meticulous and yet unconventional her insights were. She would often come at issues in a kind of perpendicular way. Rather than finding a point between A and B, she would say that maybe that axis is the wrong axis.” ... “She has one of those amazing brains,” says Williams professor of law I. Glenn Cohen, who worked on the Harvard Law Review with Gersen. “She was a year ahead of me in law school, and we all regarded her more like a faculty member, even back then. She just seemed to know everything.”

  • Black and white photo of the White House

    How Donald Trump illustrated the need for more curbs on presidential power

    February 12, 2021

    As the trial of Donald Trump takes place in the Senate on charges of inciting the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol, renowned journalist Bob Woodward wondered during a Harvard Law School-sponsored webinar on Wednesday whether Trump also could have been impeached for his role in the COVID-19 crisis.

  • How to Think About Chinese-Owned Technology Platforms Operating in the United States

    February 12, 2021

    An op-ed by Gary Corn and Jack GoldsmithToday the technology and law programs that we supervise at the American University Washington College of Law and the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, are publishing a report entitled “Chinese Technology Platforms Operating in the United States.” The report sets forth a framework for understanding the various threats posed by Chinese-owned technology platforms operating in the United States (e.g. TikTok), and for assessing the various costs and benefits of proposed responses to these threats. The report is a joint-product by a group of people with diverse backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives on these matters: Jennifer Daskal, Chris Inglis, Paul Rosenzweig, Samm Sacks, Bruce Schneier, Alex Stamos, Vince Stewart and the two of us. Some background and elaboration: Among the many challenges the Biden administration has inherited, a frayed U.S.-China relationship figures prominently. The Trump administration's approach to China was driven by China’s emergence as a great power competitor, and frictions inherent in that recognition manifested across a range of issues not the least of which were trade and regulation of Chinese technologies. The Trump administration took direct aim at a number of technologies, from Huawei’s 5G to Chinese manufactured small drones. In late 2020 and early 2021, it took steps to effectively ban TikTok, WeChat and other Chinese-owned apps from operating in the United States, at least in their current form.

  • Michael Horowitz testifying on Capitol Hill

    ‘Our job is to bring accountability, and oversight, and transparency to government’

    February 10, 2021

    Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz ’87 recently spoke to Harvard Law Today about his work to ensure the integrity of the DOJ and beyond.

  • Watchdogs Appointed by Trump Pose Dilemma for Biden

    February 2, 2021

    Even as the Biden administration has moved aggressively to undo Donald J. Trump’s policies and dislodge his loyalists from positions on boards and civil-service jobs, it has hesitated on a related choice: whether to remove two inspectors general appointed by Mr. Trump under a storm of partisan controversy. At issue is whether the new administration will keep Eric Soskin, who was confirmed as the Transportation Department’s inspector general in December, and Brian D. Miller, a former Trump White House lawyer who was named earlier in 2020 to hunt for abuses in pandemic spending. Both were confirmed over intense Democratic opposition after Mr. Trump fired or demoted a number of inspectors general last year,saying he had been treated “very unfairly” by them...Still, Jack Goldsmith, a Harvard Law School professor who co-wrote a book proposing post-Trump reforms to government, said that no matter how well Mr. Biden might couch a justification to remove such an inspector general, it would further damage the notion that presidents ought not remove them without cause. “If Biden refrains from firing Senate-confirmed but disfavored inspectors general, that will buck up the norm of independence,” Mr. Goldsmith said. “The ostensible norm is not an actual norm if it doesn’t constrain the president in painful ways.”