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).

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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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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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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