Tag: John Yoo

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Washington State Republicans over the weekend had the pleasure of hearing from Professor John Yoo and Troy Senik at The Roanoke Conference. Both men had insightful things to say about current political issues, and Professor Yoo delivered a wonderful keynote address – reminding us of Lincoln’s example and of our founding principles.  They were kind […]

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Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World


Friends, today my guests on the ACF podcast are Peter Robinson and John Yoo — really, I was their guest. They led me through a number of conversations, ranging wildly from British aristocracy to the jury system in America and voir dire (ultimately from the Latin verum dicere, tell the truth, the jurymen’s oath), but we also talked about movies, TV, and novels. Mostly, we talked about Master And Commander, the naval adventure of the Napoleonic Wars, and the Aubrey-Maturin series of novels on which it’s based, but also about the older famous series, Hornblower, and then for land warfare, Sharpe. Then we also talked about the latest things in production or out on streaming, the Bosch TV series and the Lincoln Lawyer, which was a movie and is now a TV show, both from novel series by Michael Connelly. Altogether a whirlwind tour through our storytelling pastimes and a funny but honest defense of middlebrow art.

Peter Robinson and John Yoo’s High Seas Adventure


I don’t have the graphics skill to give you @peterrobinson and @johnyoo comically pictured as Captain “Lucky” Jack Aubrey and doctor Stephen Maturin (also scientist, spy, and confidant), so you’ll have to just imagine it. I can give you something better, though, and closer to the real thing: This week, we’re recording a trio piece–no, not Locatelli or Bocherini–a podcast, and it only will be musical if humor can be said to be musical. We’ll talk about Master And Commander: The Far Side Of The World, the wonderful 2003 Peter Weir movie starring Russell Crowe (on the heels of three consecutive Oscar nominations, for The Insider, Gladiator, for which he won, and A Beautiful Mind) and Paul Bettany (before WandaVision), as well as the series of novels by Patrick O’Brian on which it is based.

You’ll hear about the romance of naval warfare in the Napoleonic era. Indeed, we should say naval warfare in the era when the British Empire assumed domination of seas and oceans! Some nostalgia for imperialism might come up on my end. The O’Brian novels are apparently again being adapted by 20th Century and it’s a good time for conservatives to talk about them and how they should be treated. We’re willing to start the chatter. Hopefully, there will be so much of it, a consensus will form and conservative opinion will have some influence in the culture.

Ricochet Replay: A Night with John Yoo


For those of you who couldn’t make our live broadcast, we present A Night with John Yoo.

John spends an hour+ with Ricochet Editor Emeritus Troy Senik to talk about his new book, “Defender in Chief,” to reminisce about clerking on the Supreme Court and his time in the Bush 43 Administration and legacy as “the torture memo lawyer.”

Bobby Jindal, former governor of Louisiana, stops by to talk to the full crew about How Trump Wins the Populist Patriots and how that particular group has been ill served by Democrats and Republicans alike and what Republicans can do to win their support. The Jobs Report is out with “unexpectedly high” numbers: 266,000 new non-farm jobs. Remember when the reports were always “unexpectedly low” under Obama? Rob attempts to explain why Obama is responsible for Trump’s great economy even though he hedges his bets by saying presidents can’t control the economy. Then John Yoo, detainee at UC Berkeley, joins the podcast, again, to talk impeachment. John has the most beautiful suggestion for what Trump should do, should there be an impeachment trial in the Senate. You’ll want to hear this one because it’s a winner. Big league. And if you disagree, let us know in the comments.

Finally, congratulations to @garymcvey for winning the prestigious Lileks Post of the Week competition for his post, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service: This Never Happened to the Other Fellow. We only hand out 52 of these per year, folks.

Constitutional Change: A Parable


640px-Scene_at_the_Signing_of_the_Constitution_of_the_United_StatesOn Monday I say, “Here is a wonderful document. It establishes a federal republic based on checks and balances with the purpose of protecting our natural rights and securing the blessings of liberty. It is a living document, and explains how we can update it if we need to.” And you say, “This is a good document.” On Tuesday I say, “The document has some new sentences. Now it also says we should end slavery.” And you say, “That is also good.”

On Wednesday, however, I say, “Now the document says there are some other rights that overrule some of the old ones.” And you say, “Can I read the new sentences?” I reply: “There are no new sentences. Just a new meaning.” You ask, “Where did the old meaning go, and how did you squeeze this new meaning into the old sentences?”

On Thursday I say, “Now the document says we have the right to marry any way we like. Today two men can marry each other, and tomorrow they can marry five men or five women; after that, perhaps they can marry their mothers and their dogs if they like.” You ask when the document started meaning this, and I answer “Just this morning.” You ask when I updated the words to include this new meaning and I say, “The words have not changed since Tuesday.” It’s hard to say what will happen on Friday, but it probably won’t be good.

Yesterday’s Non-Originalism


James_Madison_Portrait2Conservatives tend to be originalists in constitutional interpretation. But not all to the right of center are originalists, and not all non-originalists are hard-core, leftist living constitutionalists. There’s a view of non-originalism that’s remarkably compatible with conservativism. I don’t endorse it myself, but it’s well worth looking at.

Another way of putting it: There’s an alternative to originalism that’s not today’s alternative. It’s not the Left’s. It’s old, or at least it has old roots. It has a lot to do with Madison. Let’s start with some of his principles and build up to that alternative:

First, Madison tells us that the Constitution is given its authority by the people:

Member Post


For the second week in a row, I’m running late with my college football post.  Anyway, here are a few games of interest this weekend. In the Big Ten, the No. 12 Michigan Wolverines are leading the Penn State Nittany Lions 21-16 midway through the fourth quarter.  Later today, the No. 3 Ohio State Buckeyes […]

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Uncommon Knowledge: Hewitt and Yoo on the Constitution


In the newest episode of Uncommon Knowledge, I sit across the table from two extraordinarily gifted legal minds, both of whom served at the highest levels of government before their departure for the academy: Chapman law professor and nationally syndicated radio host Hugh Hewitt and UC Berkeley’s John Yoo. This conversation was recorded in the spring, and intervening events have in some sense made the professors’ predictions about the Supreme Court’s Obamacare ruling and the nuclear deal with Iran all the more interesting. Have a look below:

Anchor Babies Showdown: Yoo v. Coulter


Last week, Ricochet conanchor_babytributor and podcast host John Yoo posted Trump No Conservative in Opposing Birthright Citizenship, making the case that Trump’s proposal to end birthright citizenship is unconstitutional. The post generated hundreds of comments, both on and off the site, including this one from our old friend and avid Trump supporter Ann Coulter:

Submit Your Questions for Epstein and Yoo


Richard-Epstein-John-YooIt’s August in the Law Talk faculty lounge and you know what that means: with the Supreme Court out of session, we have to turn to you, the listeners, to save us from doing an entire show on Cecil the lion.

Early next week, I’ll be convening Professors Epstein and Yoo for the next episode of the podcast — and we want you to be part of the program. If you have a question for the professors or a topic you’d like to hear them address, let us know in the comments below. We’ll take up some of the best ones on air. (The worst ones will be publicly shamed). Fire away!

Dictator for a Week


Cincinnatus: Everybody’s favorite dictator. By the way, you also have to wear a toga for a week.

Let’s imagine that — a few years from now — the Ricochetti have mobilized a majority of American citizens who understand that the country is in serious trouble and have little trust in politicians to fix it. The result is the “Cincinnatus Amendment,” giving one citizen – elected by a supermajority of states or the popular vote – extraordinary power for exactly one week in order to restore Constitutional governance. This temporary dictator would control the executive branch and also have the legislative power of Congress. He is not, however, allowed to change the Constitution, remove federal judges, or change the current membership of Congress or Presidency, whose office holders will return to power next week.

Two More Questions for Epstein and Yoo


cover170x170Last week, I had the honor of having a post of mine discussed by professors Epstein and Yoo on an episode of Ricochet’s Law Talk podcast. The subject was the appropriateness of the federal government taking the lead on the Tsarnaev (Boston bombing) case despite the crime being committed in Massachusetts by two of its legal residents. Beginning at around 44:45, Yoo described the reasons in favor of it as follows (Epstein largely agreed):

[T]his is a terrorism crime. And the reason it’s a terrorism crime is because it’s politically motivated by people who are attacking us — and it just happens to be that the location is in Boston — because they disagree with our foreign policy and national security policies. And so, if this was just a guy who decided to blow-up a bomb in Boston at the Boston Marathon because he was crazy, or he hated somebody that was in the marathon, or wanted to get attention for himself, or any other variety of reasons that had nothing to do with terrorism, then he might be right…

He continues:

Calling John Yoo . . .


And anyone else who thinks Eric Garner was choked to death by the police.  I have a new piece up at PJ Media in which I again address Mr. Garner’s fatal enounter with the NYPD. In it, I take on the uninformed commentary I’ve heard on the matter, including some from Ricochet’s own John Yoo.  Mr. Yoo is in good company with Charles Krauthammer and George Will, but they’re all wrong. A sample from the piece:

As I’ve followed the aftermath of Mr. Garner’s death, I’ve been struck by the ignorance displayed by so many ordinarily sensible people offering commentary on the matter.  I use the term “ignorance” not as an insult but rather in the benign sense that they are simply uninformed on the facts of the case.  Charles Krauthammer, for example, called the Staten Island grand jury’s decision not to indict the NYPD officer implicated in Garner’s death as “totally inexplicable.” George Will took things a qualified adjective further when he labeled the decision as “inexplicable and probably inexcusable.”  And Berkeley law professor and former U.S. deputy attorney general John Yoo, discussing the incident on a recent Ricochet podcast (relevant portion at about 57:00), revealed himself as no more informed on the issue than the two columnists.  “Looking at the video of what happened,” said Mr. Yoo, “I don’t see any reason why force was required there.  With the guy selling loose cigarettes, I don’t see the need to use deadly force to restrain him.”

Law Prof: Prosecute John Yoo


yoo2Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean of the Law School at the University of California Irvine, has called for prosecuting John Yoo for a legal opinion. Well, this would only be done once, and for a good cause, of course, so there’s really no down-side to putting one fellow in jail for a brief. As the article quotes the learned Dean:

“How else do we as a society express our outrage? How else do we deter it in the future—except by criminal prosecutions?”

Huh! Great point. I’m coming up short on alternatives. I mean, he’s really on to something here: what is the point of having a legal system if it doesn’t click its heels, crisply salute, and draw up papers because we want to express our outrage?

Would We Be Better Off Losing on Obamacare at the Supreme Court? A Response to John Yoo


384px-Official_roberts_CJA few days ago, Ricochet’s John Yoo predicted that Supreme Court will decide that the PPACA (Obamacare) does not allow for the federal exchanges to pay out subsidies in the upcoming King v Burwell case. Although I am a legal ignoramus, I have been following the excellent symposium on this case over at SCOTUSblog, and I wonder whether we might see an unexpected result here.

Based on the evidence from both sides, two points become clear. There is indeed no explicit passage in the law that mandates the federal subsidies, as exists for state exchanges. Still, there are a number of passages which make no sense if the federal exchanges are forbidden from paying out subsidies. More to the point, the law is so inconsistent and muddled that a good-faith argument could be made that it is simply ambiguous and incoherent on this issue; if so, the IRS will have the authority to come up with its own interpretation (the so-called Chevron deference).

Prof. Yoo suggests that Chief Justice Roberts may be eager to atone for his prior sins in the NFIB v Sibelius case, especially after the last election in favor of Republicans. Yet I find it strange to imagine that a man who only two years ago twisted himself into pretzel-like contortions to save the law will reverse himself and let the law twist in the wind. Instead, I wonder if he has something more nefarious up his sleeve.