The Law: John Yoo and the Republic


  • AUTHOR'S NOTE: I appreciate the very helpful comments and suggestions by David Gray Adler and Robert Spitzer. The views expressed here are personal, not institutional.

Louis Fisher is a scholar in residence at the Constitution Project, after serving for 40 years with the Library of Congress, both in the Congressional Research Service and the Law Library. He has published widely on the war power and constitutional law.


In his articles, books, and legal memoranda for the U.S. Department of Justice, John Yoo is well known for favoring broad and even exclusive presidential power in the field of national security. Less understood is his dependence on the British model and the prerogatives it extended to the king over external affairs. In his writings, Yoo devotes little attention to the framers' rejection of British executive prerogatives. Even less does he acknowledge their commitment to a republic, a form of government in which sovereign power is vested not in an executive but in the people.