The Preamble to the U.S. Constitution, which famously begins “We the People,” makes clear the high value our founders placed on national security and the role of law. The Preamble describes the Constitution’s very purpose as including “establish[ing] Justice, insur[ing] domestic Tranquility, provid[ing] for the common defence, … and secur[ing] … Liberty.” Today, national security remains a priority responsibility for our federal leaders. Our nation continues to strive for the right balance between security and liberty, mixed with a healthy dose of Justice, all in the name of “form[ing] a more perfect Union.”
The Constitution has continued to provide a framework for our government’s exercise of national security powers. At the same time, the field of national security law has witnessed rapid growth and significant change, particularly over the past fifteen years. The coming years will be no less dynamic. This course examines national security law through a study of essential legal sources, historical precedents, and current and emerging national security issues. Topics include: each branch’s role (and limitations) in national security decision-making, war powers and military force, crime and counterterrorism, and the role of information in national security. Together, we will aim to better understand the role of law in keeping our homeland safe, and the relationship (and necessary balance) between security, liberty, and justice.