John Yoo

John Yoo is a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. He is the author of Point of Attack: Preventive War, International Law, and Global Welfare (Oxford University Press, 2014).

Benghazi and the Constitution

With the creation of a special congressional committee to investigate the 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, the three branches of government will soon head for a constitutional collision. Obama administration officials, past and present, will resist the call to testify. They will respond to congressional subpoenas by claiming executive privilege or asserting their right to avoid self-incrimination. To get answers to its questions, the committee may hold Obama officials in contempt. Under today’s misconceived system of judicial supremacy, the courts may decide the winner. If the original understanding of the Constitution prevailed, Congress would probably prevail. But investigations has become yet another matter where Washington, D.C.’s practices have strayed far from the Constitution.

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The Exceptional American Presidency

Rare is it to find an academic who tries to do justice to his university’s namesake. Imagine what Rockefeller, Carnegie, Stanford, and Vanderbilt, not to mention good old Harvard and Yale, would think about what goes on under their names.  But law professor Frank Buckley, at least, attempts to carry forth the torch of George Mason in his provocative essay, American Exceptionalism. Mason was a prominent Virginian politician who might be thought of as a libertarian today, though the eighteenth century did not think in such terms.  His draft of Virginia’s first state constitution and its bill of rights, which declared…

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More Responses

Does America Need a New ‘Science of Politics’?

Professor Buckley argues in “American Exceptionalism” that presidents cause countries with the office to realize less freedom on average than countries with prime ministers. Below I explain why neither Buckley’s theoretical claims nor the empirical evidence he provides persuades me that his conclusion is warranted. Before digging into his argument, however, I do want to appreciate…

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American Exceptionalism: Response

 We are all patriots first, philosophers second. And that is just as it should be. Still, the patriotic American must admit that his country’s constitution was not made for export, and that parliamentary countries enjoy more political freedom. That’s not to say that America is anything other than free. Still, as he surveys the shipwreck…

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John Yoo responds to “Taming International Law with Presidential Supremacy”

Mr. Carpenter’s review makes some excellent points, but I want to focus here on his two points of criticism of Taming Globalization.  First, he says that the book is lacking because it spends too little time on the Bricker Amendment, which he suggests was not the initiative of southerners interested in protecting segregation from international human rights treaties.  Second, he argues that federal courts, rather than the President,  should have the primary say in interpreting customary international law (and he further implies that this conclusion in Taming Globalization is the product of my pro-executive views while serving in the Bush administration).

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Debating Sovereignty: Globalization, International Law, and the United States Constitution


Globalization is transforming American society. As never before, the U.S. economy depends on international trade, the free flow of capital, and integration into the world financial system. International events affect domestic markets and institutions more than ever. Advances in communications, transportation, and the Internet have brought great benefits to the United States.  But the September 11, 2001 attacks also revealed globalization’s dark side. Terrorism, refugee flows, pollution, drug smuggling, and crime depend on the same channels of globalization as the world economy. These economic, technological, and social changes have occurred because of the acceleration of communication, transportation, and information systems across…

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Bolstering American Sovereignty with Treaties

Concerns about sovereignty in an age of globalization are common, and often take a defensive posture that seeks to limit the reach of international law.   But sovereignty and international law are not incompatible.  Broadly understood, sovereignty may be defined as the advancement of the national interest, and the reality of globalization requires the United States…

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Facilitating not Hindering American Compliance with International Law

State sovereignty is the fundamental building block of the international legal system.  International Law, much like the US Constitution, is at once an expression of, and self-imposed limitation upon, sovereignty.  At the same time, international law is much less of a limitation on US sovereignty than is the US Constitution, and rightly so. Today’s international legal…

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Taming Globalization: A Conversation with John Yoo

In this podcast, John Yoo discusses his new book, co-authored with Julian Ku, Taming Globalization: International Law, the U.S. Constitution, and the New World Order. Yoo focuses attention on the proliferating sources of international law in treaties, conventions, agreements, and customary international law that transnationalists believe should be more easily incorporated into America's constitutional and domestic law. Yoo's arguments, however, are not reactionary. After highlighting the constitutional and philosophical arguments made by transnationalists on behalf of this posture, Yoo discusses how the Constitution's structure of separation of powers and federalism can be utilized in aiding America in the growing international…

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