Jack Goldsmith III

Honorary Degree Citation

Jack Goldsmith III

Jack Goldsmith III. Professor, public servant, defender of the rule of law. You received your undergraduate education at Washington and Lee and Oxford universities and your law degree from Yale, and you earned graduate degrees from Oxford and The Hague Academy of International Law. You served as a law clerk to a U.S. Supreme Court justice and as a special counsel at the Department of Defense, and you have had a distinguished career as a professor of law at the University of Chicago and now Harvard. You are a person of vast legal knowledge and professional and personal integrity. In your brief tenure as head of the Office of Legal Council at the U.S. Department of Justice, from October 2003 to July 2004, you helped to determine the legal limits of executive power in the post-9/11 world. When you discovered that a number of the White House’s counterterrorism measures rested on “severely weakened legal foundations,” you acted swiftly and courageously to change them. Ultimately, you withdrew two of the so-called “torture memos” and, in doing so, reminded the administration and the American public that the president must not rely only on “the hard power of prerogative” and cannot merely ignore “the soft factors of legitimation—consultation, deliberation, the appearance of deference, and credible expressions of public concern for constitutional and international values—in his dealing with Congress, the courts, and allies.” Your acclaimed book, The Terror Presidency, urgently reminds us that excessive secrecy is a danger to the legal foundations of our country and to successful international relations.

By the authority of the Board of Trustees of Colby College, I confer upon you, Jack Goldsmith III, the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa. The hood with which you have been invested and this diploma which I place in your hand are visible symbols of your membership in this society of scholars, to all the rights and privileges of which I declare you entitled.

Conferred May 24, 2009


Jack Goldsmith is Henry L. Shattuck Professor of Law at Harvard. He specializes in international law, foreign affairs law, conflicts of law, and national security law. He is the author of dozens of articles on these and other subjects. His most recent publications are The Terror Presidency: Law and Judgment Inside the Bush Administration (Norton, 2007), Who Controls the Internet? Illusions of a Borderless World (Oxford University Press, 2006, with coauthor Tim Wu), and The Limits of International Law (Oxford University Press, 2005, with coauthor Eric Posner). Prior to joining the Harvard faculty, he served as assistant U.S. attorney general in the Office of Legal Counsel and special counsel to the general counsel to the Department of Defense. Professor Goldsmith taught at the University of Chicago Law School from 1997 to 2002 and at the University of Virginia Law School from 1994 to 1997.

Commencement 2018

Commencement Contact

Colby College Logo