International/National Security Law
[Note: this listing is not intended to represent the Graduate Programs' National Security Law LL.M. degree. This list of courses is for J.D. students who are interested in courses within this area of law.]
In recent years, international and national security law has emerged as an increasingly important field of study. The courses in this area of the curriculum examine the domestic and international legal frameworks that shape U.S. foreign policy and international relations more generally. They also explore particular substantive areas of security policy and law. Some of the courses in this field have a core content that is relatively consistent over time, while others change markedly from year to year in light of world events and related developments in the law. As the world becomes more interconnected and threats to peace and security more diverse, knowledge about both domestic and international legal norms and institutions (and the interrelationships between them) has become critical to a full understanding of the ways in which law both restrains and empowers states in their pursuit of national and international security.
The courses in the field of international and national security law can be divided into three main categories. In one category are course offerings that focus primarily on U.S. domestic law governing the conduct of foreign relations. These courses examine the Constitution's allocation of power between Congress and the President regarding foreign affairs, such as the treaty power and the war power, and also explore the role of the courts as a check on the political branches. Domestic statutory law, including framework statutes such as the War Powers Resolution, is examined as well. The core course in this category is the Constitutional Aspects of Foreign Affairs Seminar offered by Professors Wallace, Lazarus, and McGrath. More specialized courses are also offered in this area. Professors Martin and Zirkle, for example, offer a seminar on Strategic Intelligence and Public Policy, which examines U.S. law bearing on intelligence activities and on the relationship between national security and individual rights. These courses focusing primarily on U.S. law build upon students' exposure to the separation of powers in Constitutional Law I, and that course is generally a prerequisite for the advanced courses in this area.
A second major category of courses focus primarily on the international legal framework that governs international relations among states, with a special emphasis on the United Nations Charter. The United Nations Charter not only sets forth legal principles regarding the use of force by states, it also establishes an institutional framework for collective efforts to maintain international peace and security. The United Nations Security Council has played an increasingly important role in authorizing collective responses to threats to the peace in a variety of recent cases, such as in the Persian Gulf War, Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, and elsewhere. It also has authorized an increasing number of complex, multi-component peacekeeping operations, as in Cambodia, El Salvador and Mozambique. Students who have taken International Law I: Introduction to International Law should have a basic knowledge of the United Nations Charter. Professor Stromseth's International Law Seminar: Use of Force and Conflict Resolution is designed for students desiring a fuller understanding of the law governing the use of force and the role of the United Nations in conflict resolution. While International Law I: Introduction to International Law is not a prerequisite for the courses in this category, it does provide helpful background.
A third cluster of courses in the area of international and national security law are those that examine both international and U.S. law and focus on particular substantive issues of security law and policy. Professor Koplow's seminar on Issues in Disarmament: Proliferation of Modern Weapons explores a wide range of weapons technologies and examines the legal and political mechanisms -- both international and domestic -- that constrain them. National Security Law likewise introduces students to national and international law bearing on conflict management and security generally, and also examines a number of specific topics, such as arms control and liability for war crimes. International Law I: Introduction to International Law provides helpful background for each of these courses.
Students who have taken Constitutional Law I and International Law I should have a basic understanding of the distribution of power between Congress and the President and of the nature of the international legal system. Students who want a fuller understanding of both the domestic and international law that shapes international and national security policy will benefit, however, from further course work in this area. Which courses the student chooses will depend on the specific substantive areas of most interest to the student as well as the number of courses the student can devote to this subject. Ideally, students should develop their knowledge of both domestic U.S. law and international law and institutions. This can be done by taking a basic course or seminar in each of the first two course categories described above or by taking a course or seminar in the third category that bridges domestic and international law. Students with a special interest in a particular issue area can benefit from the more specialized offerings in each category.
In addition to the courses specifically focusing on international and national security, students will find many related course offerings to be relevant and helpful to their understanding of the complex post-Cold War world in which we live. Weapons proliferation and inter-state aggression remain central concerns, but other security issues -- including regional conflicts, ethnic strife, refugee crises, and humanitarian emergencies across the globe -- are also taking center stage. Students thus will benefit from the rich array of international law courses offered at Georgetown. These include courses or seminars on Human Rights Enforcement, International Human Rights, Immigration and Nationality Law, International and Comparative Law on Women's Human Rights, International Institutions (graduate), and Refugee and Asylum Law. Also helpful are courses in comparative law or foreign law that touch on security issues. In addition, students can pursue independent research projects with individual professors.
Students interested in immigration and refugee issues will benefit especially by participating in the Center for Applied Legal Studies (CALS) Clinic, in which students assist refugees applying for political asylum in this country. In so doing, students become experts on the human rights record of the applicant's country of origin and assist in presenting evidence of a well-founded fear of persecution before an administrative law judge. In short, the opportunities to study national and international security law and policy at Georgetown are considerable.
J.D. Clinic | 10 credit hours
See the Center for Applied Legal Studies website for more detailed information about the clinic.
For registration-specific supplemental materials, please see the Center for Applied Legal Studies PDF.
For information about clinic registration generally, please see the Clinic Registration Handbook.
Mutually Excluded Courses: Students may not concurrently enroll in this clinic and an externship or a practicum course.
J.D. Seminar (cross-listed) | 2 credit hours
The goal of this seminar is to introduce students to the complex legal and policy questions that national security decision-makers face in their efforts to protect vulnerable public and private computer and communications networks from intrusion and attack. The course also addresses law and policy related to use of those networks to carry out military and intelligence operations. The course will focus primarily on United States law and policy, but many of the issues apply more broadly to others governments and international actors.
Although the subject matter of this course involves technology, no background in technology is necessary for this class. Grades will be based on 3 papers, approximately 8-9 pages each. In the papers, students will be asked to provide advice or argue a position to a senior policymaker or other client.
Recommended: International Law and/or national security related course.
LL.M Course (cross-listed) | 2 credit hours
The financial crisis of 2008 was the result of developments in the financial system during the first decade of the 21rst Century which the regulatory system had failed to keep pace with. The government's immediate response to the crisis, however, drew upon emergency powers that were first created by Congress in 1913 and 1934 in response to the Panic of 1907 and the Great Depression that began in 1929. Like those crises, this crisis also generated a major piece of financial reform legislation, Dodd-Frank, which has altered the regulatory playing field on which financial institutions will operate in the future. Whether the Dodd-Frank reforms adequately address the causes of the most recent crisis and will prevent the onset of another crisis remains an open question and one which this course will examine.
In order to give students the ability to evaluate the merits of the Dodd-Frank legislation, this course will review the historical development of the United States banking industry, and of the regulatory structure governing it, so as to give students an appreciation of the political and economic forces that have produced a financial and regulatory system as complex as the one Dodd-Frank seeks to reform. Topics covered will include the role of the Federal Reserve Bank, the role of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, safety and soundness regulation, bank activity limitations, consumer protection, bank insolvency and resolution and banks' ability to affiliate with other financial institutions such as insurance companies and investment banks.
Students will be evaluated on the basis of class participation (15% of the grade) and problem sets handed out during the course of the semester (15% of the grade) and a final examination (70% of the grade). The final examination will focus on traditional "issue spotting" to test the acquisition of basic concepts as well as on the comprehension of the historical material included as part of the readings. The problem sets, which will call for policy analysis as well as legal analysis, will help students internalize the material and prepare for the final examination.
Recommended: Prior or concurrent enrollment in Administrative Law.
Mutually Excluded Courses: Students may not receive credit for both this course and the J.D. course, Federal Banking Regulation: Modern Financial Institutions and Change.
J.D. Seminar (cross-listed) | 1 credit hour
This seminar will address the relationship between courts-martial and civilian judicial proceedings, focusing on the allocation of responsibilities in the military justice system to commanders, judges, and lawyers. Specific topics will include the contemporary debates regarding sexual misconduct and combat-related offenses. The assigned readings will utilize materials available on the internet, including judicial decisions, legislative and regulatory materials, and law review articles. The seminar paper will take the form of a draft judicial opinion based upon topics covered in the course. The seminar is designed for students interested in national security, judicial review, and the constitutional allocation of legislative, executive, and judicial powers.
Recommended: Constitutional Law I and either Criminal Justice (or Democracy and Coercion) or Criminal Procedure.
Note: WEEK ONE COURSE. This seminar will meet for one week only on the following days: Monday, January 8, 2018, through Thursday, January 11, 2018, 6:00 p.m. - 9:20 p.m.This course is mandatory pass/fail and will not count toward the 7 credit pass/fail limit for J.D. students. Attendance at all class sessions is mandatory and all enrolled students must attend the first class in order to remain enrolled. Students on the wait list must attend the first class in order to be admitted off the wait list. Enrolled students will have until the beginning of the second class session to request a drop by contacting the Office of the Registrar. Once the second class session begins, students may only seek a withdrawal by contacting an academic advisor in the Office of JD Academic Services. Withdrawals are permitted up until the last class for this specific course.
J.D. Course (cross-listed) | 2 credit hours
This survey course covers the law of armed conflict and customary international law as applied on today’s battlefields. Is there really law in combat? When does the law of war apply? Does it apply to non-State actors? What is a war crime, and who decides? How is proportionality determined? What is the difference between a combatant, a terrorist, and a criminal? Is torture ever lawful? Is targeted killing lawful? What constitutes a cyber attack? What is the jurisdiction of military commissions and why is that a difficult question for Guantánamo? Can a superior’s order constitute a defense to war crime charges? Is indefinite detention lawful? Can the U.S. ever lawfully kill a U.S. citizen in a foreign state with which we are not at war? Such questions are the subject of the course. It is not a philosophy course, nor is it national security law, nor human rights law, although those topics are inextricably related. Our focus is on the law applicable in today’s non-international armed conflict battlefields. Military experience is not required to do well in this course.
Recommended: Completion of International Law I prior to enrollment in this course.
Mutually Excluded Courses: Students may not receive credit for both this course and the Law of War Seminar or War Crimes and Prosecutions.
J.D. Seminar (cross-listed) | 2 credit hours
This seminar surveys the law of armed conflict and customary international law as applied on today’s battlefields. Is there really law in combat? What constitutes a “battlefield”? When does the law of war apply? Does it apply to non-State actors? What is a war crime, and who decides? Was Nagasaki a war crime? How is proportionality determined? What is the difference between a combatant, a terrorist, and a criminal? Is torture ever lawful? Is targeted killing lawful and how do we know? What constitutes a cyber attack? What is the jurisdiction of military commissions and why is that a difficult question for Guantanamo? Are superior orders a defense to war crime charges? Can a superior’s order constitute a defense to war crime charges? Is indefinite detention lawful? Such questions are the subject of the seminar.
It is not a philosophy course, nor is it national security law, nor human rights law, although those topics are inextricably related. Our focus is on the law applicable in today’s non-international armed conflicts, and military experience is not required to do well in this course.
Strongly Recommended: Completion of International Law I prior to enrollment in this seminar.
Mutually Excluded Courses: Students may not receive credit for both this seminar and the International Law of Armed Conflict Seminar or War Crimes and Prosecutions.
LL.M Seminar (cross-listed) | 2 credit hours
This course reviews the basic principles of international law related to the many exclusive and inclusive uses of ocean space, especially on those critical issues affecting U.S. national security. Students will develop a comprehensive understanding of the legal regimes governing the oceans, from internal waters and other coastal zones through the regimes of the high seas, and an overall appreciation for U.S. oceans law and policy, based on relevant principles of international and national law. Topics include navigation and overflight rights, living and non-living ocean resources, military and law-enforcement activities, protecting the marine environment, marine scientific research, the law of naval warfare, and the processes for developing ocean policy and for resolving international disputes. Students will research and engage in class discussions on a number of problems involving national security issues and the use of ocean space, including resources on the continental shelf, maritime terrorism, military exercises, maritime transportation systems, at-sea trafficking in illicit drugs, piracy, weapons of mass destruction, collection of intelligence, and naval rules of engagement
Final exam only.
Recommended: International Law I: Introduction to International Law (or the equivalent International Law I).
Mutually Excluded Courses: Students may not receive credit for both this course and Oceans Law and Policy.
J.D. Course (cross-listed) | 5 credit hours
National Security Crisis Law is a nationally-recognized class, and the capstone course for the J.D./LL.M. in National Security Law at Georgetown. It examines the law as it is written and as it is applied. The course will be equally helpful to students who go into other fields, as it emphasizes leadership and examines how cognitive biases, institutional cultures, and formal and informal social networks influence lawyers’ ability to perform effectively under pressure. The course takes into account both conventional and non-conventional threats, such as terrorist use of biological weapons, cyber attacks, and the detonation of radiological dispersal devices, to examine the constitutional, statutory, and administrative contours of the government’s response. In lieu of an examination, students will take part in a week-long simulation, during which they will assume positions within the federal Executive Branch, as well as state and local government. Students will have the opportunity to meet with lawyers who practice in the field, to help to prepare for their roles. Students will be assigned sim-classified and sim-unclassified email accounts, and provided with access to the Video News Network and AP Wire, through which they will receive information about a series of evens as they unfold. A Control Team, made up of approximately 50 professors and attorneys from practice, will respond to the student decision-making. For the final two days of the week, students will be present in person at the law school. During the 2017-2018 year, the final exercise will be both national and inter-national, involving students from top national security law schools across the United States and Canada. Enrollment is limited to 30 students.
Prerequisite: Constitutional Law I: The Federal System (or Democracy and Coercion). Prior or concurrent enrollment in either Constitutional Law II: Individual Rights and Freedom, Criminal Justice or Criminal Procedure.
Note: In Spring 2018, this course will meet three days a week on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, 9:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. This course will also meet on the following Wednesdays from 3:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.: 1/17, 1/24, and 1/31. There will also be an all-day crisis simulation exercise in this course held on Friday and Saturday, March 2-3, 2018. Attendance at the simulation exercise is mandatory.
Students may not withdraw from this class after the add/drop period ends without the permission of the professor. The course can be taken either pass/fail or for a grade.
J.D. Seminar (cross-listed) | 2-3 credit hours
This course will examine the substantive, ethical, moral, procedural, and practical challenges of practicing national security law in the government. Government national security and foreign affairs lawyers have significant influence on operational and policy decision-making, but generally encounter fewer external checks and less oversight than lawyers in other areas. Because of threshold doctrines such as standing and political question, courts address national security legal questions relatively rarely. There are few timely, formal checks in the area of international law, which develops over time and by consensus and often lacks a direct enforcement mechanism. In addition, much of the subject matter about which national security lawyers provide advice is classified, which can limit the scrutiny of legal analysis by Congress, the press, and the public. Therefore, national security lawyers, who provide advice on what are often extremely high stakes and difficult legal issues, shoulder a great deal of responsibility to carry out their roles ethically and effectively.
The course will use case studies and hypotheticals to explore these important challenges. Students will discuss a variety of issues, including: the players and process of national security legal decision-making; flexibility, constraint, and accountability for the national security lawyer; the challenges in providing balanced advice; whether and when it is appropriate to “push the envelope” on legal advice; the impact of secrecy on legal advice and decision-making; the importance of transparency about national security legal advice and why it is so difficult; prosecution, litigation, and national security; the appropriate role of lawyers and the law in the national security policymaking process; lawyering when the law is not developed; and the challenges and responsibilities of lawyering during war and other national security crises.
Students will be graded on several short reaction papers and one longer final paper. Class discussion will also be considered in grading.
Recommended: International law and/or national security related course.
Note: This seminar requires a paper. J.D. students must register for the 3 credit section of the seminar if they wish to write a paper fulfilling the Upperclass Legal Writing Requirement. The paper requirements of the 2 credit section will not fulfill the J.D. Upperclass Legal Writing Requirement.
LL.M Seminar (cross-listed) | 2 credit hours
This course will provide students with an understanding of the current matrix of nuclear non-proliferation treaties, multilateral arrangements, laws, regulations, initiatives, proposals, and organizations that aim to halt the spread of nuclear weapons and prevent nuclear terrorism. We will also consider the role of foreign assistance, intelligence gathering, and the threat or use of force in achieving nonproliferation objectives. The goal is to examine the full array of tools employed by the United States to address nuclear proliferation, as well as how the United States brings these tools to bear through the interagency process and our joint efforts with Congress and our international partners. Virtually every element of the nonproliferation toolbox was deployed to address the nuclear programs of Iran and North Korea, so considerable time will be spent examining these critical cases. We will also examine how the nuclear programs of India and Iraq shook and ultimately altered the nonproliferation regime. Throughout the course, we will consider nonproliferation efforts in the context of great power strategies, alliance obligations, regional rivalries, and non-state actor threats, focusing on how these factors influence the decision-making of proliferating countries and countries seeking to prevent proliferation. We will also consider factors such as foreign states’ energy policies, their goals for scientific achievement, and their economic interests. A continuing theme in the course will be the evolution of nonproliferation efforts over time and the role of law and lawyers in that evolution.