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National Security Law at Virginia

John Norton Moore
John Norton Moore

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John Norton Moore
Walter L. Brown Professor of Law & Director, the Center for National Security Law

It is particularly fitting for the UVA Lawyer to feature the important work of Virginia Law alumni in the field of national security law. For not only is national security law of core importance to the nation in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, but this comparatively new field originated at the Law School.

The Law School encouraged my teaching the first course in National Security Law and establishing (with Robert F. Turner ’81 while he was a student) the first National Security Law Center.

National Security Law is an intermestic field in that it combines international law and national law, as well as international relations theory, into a synergistic new field. The new field blends traditional jus ad bellum and jus in bello from international law, intelligence law and first and fourth amendment issues from national law, arms control, counter-terrorism, and a cross-section of insights from international relations theory, as well as newer areas such as homeland security and cyber-security.

Virginia also runs the world’s top international training program in its summer National Security Workshop. When the FBI set up its new National Security Law Division in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, it sent many of their new associates to the workshop. Similarly, in 2003, the newly established Department of Homeland Security called on the workshop to train its new associates. Indeed, nations all over the world have discovered Virginia’s National Security Workshop; it now routinely trains government officials from Canada, Mexico, Australia, and other nations.

I was honored to chair the American Bar Association Standing Committee on National Security Law for four terms after implementing the transition from an earlier ABA Standing Committee which had been set up by Lewis Powell. Subsequently, Turner also chaired this ABA Standing Committee.

Virginia professors and graduates also prepared the first real casebook in national security law, now in its second edition, along with its unique document supplement found on the shelves of all of the national security government agencies.

When President Ronald Reagan set up the new United States Institute of Peace (USIP), focused on issues of war and peace, Turner and I served as its first chairman and its first president. Moreover, rooted in my work in national security law at Virginia and my work as the first chairman of the board of the USIP, I offered a new theory of international relations, particularly focused on the origins and control of war, called Incentive Theory.

Incentive Theory is taught at Virginia along with the principal IR theories of Idealism, Neo-realism, Institutionalism and Constructivism. Many believe that it offers better predictive and explanatory understanding than the traditional theories.

Today the nation’s major law schools teach national security law and it enjoys its own section of the Association of American Law Schools. Not surprisingly, other major law schools, such as Georgetown and Duke, have now set up parallel National Security Law Centers with the Law School’s assistance.

Virginia retains unique advantages in this new field, including the presence of the Judge Advocate General School of the Army adjacent to the Law School, now with classes in both schools open to students in each. And, of course, Virginia has a tradition of excellence in international law going back to the recommendation by Thomas Jefferson that the “law of nations,” as international law was then called, should be a core offering in the study of law. As but one example of Virginia’s continuing robust focus on international law, Virginia has had more Counselors on International Law to the Department of State drawn from its law faculty than have been drawn from any other school in the United States.

Because of the depth and breadth of its program, the Law School continues to attract students who go on to be among the top national security experts in the government, as is illustrated by the superb alumni who are the focus of this issue.