David Luban is a University Professor in Law and Philosophy at Georgetown and Distinguished Chair in Ethics at the Stockdale Center for Ethical Leadership, United States Naval Academy. He is currently writing a study of the moral and legal philosophy of Hannah Arendt. (August 2020)


America the Unaccountable

International Criminal Court prosecutor Fatou Bensouda addressing the court, The Hague, December 2019
The Trump administration has declared war on the International Criminal Court—the world’s only permanent court whose mandate is to pursue cases of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.

Josef K. in Washington

Law professor Erwin Chemerinsky with students during a bar exam review course, Los Angeles, 2001

Closing the Courthouse Door: How Your Constitutional Rights Became Unenforceable

by Erwin Chemerinsky
Erwin Chemerinsky is one of the country’s most distinguished legal scholars—the founding dean of the University of California–Irvine School of Law, the author of several books, and a frequent commentator on the Supreme Court who is able to explain legal complexities clearly. His subject in Closing the Courthouse Door is a dozen legal doctrines that make it difficult or impossible to vindicate our constitutional rights through the judicial system. A few were created by Congress, but mostly they are the work of the Supreme Court, which in his view goes to great lengths to stop Americans from getting their day in court.

Say What You Will?

Timothy Garton Ash, New York City, October 2010

Free Speech: Ten Principles for a Connected World

by Timothy Garton Ash
A recent cover story in The Economist warns that free speech is under attack in much of the world, through government repression, assassinations of journalists by nonstate actors, and the rising insistence by minority groups that they have a right not to be offended.1 China’s Great Firewall polices websites …

Has Obama Upheld the Law?

President Obama and John Brennan, then assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism, on a conference call about the situation in Libya, Martha’s Vineyard, August 2011

Power Wars: Inside Obama’s Post-9/11 Presidency

by Charlie Savage
Charlie Savage’s Power Wars is a long and comprehensive book, covering in intricate detail nearly every major issue in Obama’s national security policy: detainees, military commissions, torture, surveillance, secrecy, targeted killings, and war powers. Its behind-the-scenes story will likely stand as the definitive record of Obama’s approach to law and national security.

The Defense of Torture

War by Other Means: An Insider's Account of the War on Terror

by John Yoo
In the new kind of war, where no enemy commander has the authority to surrender, the war ends only when we say it is over. Yoo reassures us that “there is no reason to believe it will go on for a generation.” There is equally no reason to believe it will go on for less, and the potential internment of enemy combatants for decades on end differs only in name from what Yoo denies it is: indefinite imprisonment.9


Syrian Torture: What the US Must Do

Free Syrian Army soldiers in a captured Syrian government prison, Darkoush, Syria, April 23, 2013

The atrocities committed by all sides in the increasingly violent Syrian civil war cry out for some form of international accountability. The “Caesar” photos, released in late January, up the stakes dramatically by providing remarkably specific evidence of mass murder and torture by agents of the Syrian government.