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Harvard Law professor Jack Goldsmith to deliver Edward J. Shoen Leading Scholars Lecture


April 06, 2012

Jack Goldsmith, Harry J. Shattuck Professor at Harvard Law School, will deliver the 4th annual Edward J. Shoen Leading Scholars Lecture, presented by the Arizona State Law Journal at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University. It will be held at 4 p.m., April 12, in the Great Hall of Armstrong Hall.

Tickets are free and open to the public, and a reception will follow in the Steptoe & Johnson Rotunda. For more information, visit shoen2012.eventbrite.com.

Goldsmith’s lecture, “The Accountable Presidency After 9/11,” will challenge the conventional wisdom that 9/11 sounded the death knell for presidential accountability. The powers that post-9/11 presidents have assumed are the culmination of a two-century expansion of presidential authority.

However, these new powers have been met with thousands of legal and political constraints, said Goldsmith, who was Assistant Attorney General in the Office of Legal Counsel, from October 2003 through July 2004, and Special Counsel to the U.S. Department of Defense from September 2002 through June 2003.

Among the constraints are an “unprecedentedly aggressive judicial review of the president’s wartime decisions with respect to detention, military commissions, the Geneva Conventions, habeas corpus and even targeting, and congressional regulation of presidential war prerogatives, especially on interrogation but also on detention and military commissions and on the president’s discretion where to detain and in what forum to try war criminals,” he said.

There has also been a “rise in the importance of lawyers and inspector generals inside the executive branch, which have pushed back on many decisions, as well as a press and globally networked non-governmental organizations that have brought scrutiny to presidential action,” Goldsmith said.

Goldsmith said that these constraints have transformed the powerful presidency into one that is also more accountable. 

“There are many more actors inside and outside the executive branch that are watching the presidency and checking and changing its actions in various ways including criminal, inspector general and ethics investigations, lawsuits, reputational sanctions, accountability boards, financial losses and more," Goldsmith said.

Goldsmith is the author of the new book, "Power and Constraint: The Accountable Presidency After 9/11, and of The Terror Presidency: Law and Judgment Inside the Bush Administration," as well as other books and articles on many topics related to terrorism, national security, international law, conflicts of law and Internet law.

The Edward J. Shoen Leading Scholars Lecture Series is named in honor of Edward J. “Joe” Shoen, Chairman and CEP of AMERCO, the parent company of the U-Haul system. Mr. Shoen, who graduated from the College of Law, also holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and is a graduate of the College of Holy Cross.