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Alan Dershowitz

  • Are Baltimore charges about justice or crowd control?

    May 6, 2015

    An op-ed by Alan Dershowitz. When Baltimore’s state attorney Marilyn Mosby announced charges last week against six officers in the death of Freddie Gray and proclaimed to the city that “I heard your call for ‘no justice, no peace,’” it’s possible that her decisions were based, at least in part, on the understandable goal of preventing further riots. This goal is commendable, but the mean selected to achieve it — hearing the call of demonstrators — raises fundamental questions regarding the due process right of those charged with serious crimes. No decision on charges should ever be made on the basis of satisfying the demands of demonstrators or under the threat of violent demonstrations. Crowd control is not a proper component of prosecutorial discretion and is inconsistent with due process. Prosecutorial discretion should be exercised on the basis of an objective application of the law to the facts and not on the basis of the impact it may have on the crowd.

  • Alan Dershowitz: Germans, Europeans Want to Forget Holocaust

    April 16, 2015

    On the the 70th Holocaust Remembrance Day, renowned legal analyst Alan Dershowitz tells Newsmax TV that most Germans want to forget about the Holocaust. "The vast majority of Germans want to put it behind them and want to forget about it," Dershowitz, Harvard Law School professor emeritus, told John Bachman and Miranda Khan on "Newsmax Now" on Thursday. "That's true all over Europe. People feel guilty about it," he explained. "We have to remember because if you don't remember, it can be repeated." According to Dershowitz, who is an outspoken supporter of Israel, "to prevent another Holocaust, we must always remember the prior Holocaust, and as Elie Wiesel once put it so well, 'the lesson of the Holocaust is always believe the threats of your enemies more than the promises of your friends.' "

  • EPA plan needs a debate based on reason

    April 13, 2015

    An op-ed by Alan M. Dershowitz, Neal K. Katyal, Theodore B. Olson and H. Jefferson Powell. Constitutional arguments stand or fall on their merits. That principle is as old as the Republic, but a recent debate suggests that it is worth restating. The issue is the constitutionality of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, with Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe arguing that the EPA’s proposed actions would violate constitutional principles of separation of powers and federalism, and might require just compensation payments to energy companies; his critics vigorously dispute each of Tribe’s claims. But it is not the substance of their disagreement that has caught our attention...The great Chief Justice John Marshall wrote in 1805 that in debate over “any political proposition,” an individual’s judgment will be greatly “influenced by the wishes, the affections, and the general theories of those by whom” it is to be discussed and decided. He might have added that less dignified, self-interested motives can be at play as well...we can and should emulate Marshall and draw a line between public critique, however vigorous, and the public invocation of private suspicions.

  • Judge Strikes Claims Against Dershowitz from Legal Record

    April 8, 2015

    A federal judge on Tuesday said lawyers representing alleged underage sex-abuse victims of Florida financier Jeffrey Epstein improperly aired accusations against Prince Andrew and retired Harvard University law professor Alan Dershowitz. U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra of Florida struck from the record claims against the British royal and the American lawyer that surfaced in a civil lawsuit over the government’s handling of the Epstein sex-abuse scandal.

  • Judge drops Dershowitz from lawsuit involving ‘lurid’ allegations

    April 8, 2015

    A judge has dropped Alan M. Dershowitz, the Harvard Law School emeritus professor, from the legal proceedings in Florida in which a woman named him as one of several men with whom she had sex as a minor. Dershowitz has vehemently denied the allegations, calling them “categorically false.” Despite the judge’s decision, he has vowed to pursue a defamation lawsuit he brought against the woman’s lawyers for filing the allegations in court. “This is great news because it means I am legally vindicated,” Dershowitz said by phone on Tuesday, after the ruling was released. “I will be factually vindicated in the defamation lawsuit.” In his 10-page ruling, US District Court Judge Kenneth A. Marra described the allegations as “lurid” and “immaterial and impertinent” to the underlying lawsuit. He ordered them stricken from the case.

  • What Was Ted Cruz like at Harvard?

    March 30, 2015

    Presidential candidate Ted Cruz loved to argue as a Harvard student and boasted he'd get the best grades in his class, only to lose out to two other classmates. In a series of exclusive interviews with Metro, several of his former classmates painted a complex portrait of the Tea Party's most beloved presidential candidate. Laurence Tribe, a longtime Harvard law professor, said Cruz took his constitutional law class, challenged his teacher in interesting and "invariably right-leaning" ways at every turn...Renowned legal scholar Alan Dershowitz recalled Cruz was "not a very smiley guy," and he thought would become an "extraordinarily able appellate lawyer."...Another longtime Harvard law professor Charles Fried said he worked with Cruz when the latter was the editor of the Harvard Law Review. "I have a vivid recollection of a very smart, very disciplined man," he said. "I've been reading all these sharp elbow stories but I didn't see that. He was, I would say, correct. Respectful and correct."

  • Harvard Law Pushes Back

    February 2, 2015

    The University of Virginia held a two-day conference last February on “Sexual Misconduct Among College Students.” One of the speakers was the Education Department’s Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Catherine Lhamon, who touted her office’s efforts to compel colleges and universities, under pain of losing federal funds, to adopt draconian policies on sexual harassment and assault. These policies have raised serious concerns about due process and basic fairness for the accused, and an audience member asked Ms. Lhamon how she planned to deal with such “push-back.” Her reply: “We’ve received a lot of push-back, and we need to push forward notwithstanding.” The recent experience of Harvard Law School demonstrates the value of pushing back...Most institutions yield to OCR’s pressure without significant dissent. But at Harvard, 28 law professors—including liberal luminaries Elizabeth Bartholet, Alan Dershowitz, Nancy Gertner, Janet Halley, Duncan Kennedy and Charles Ogletree —signed an open letter, published in the Boston Globe, in which they described the new policies and procedures as “inconsistent with many of the most basic principles we teach.”...Still, the law school’s new procedures are a significant improvement over the university’s, and they promise more fairness than the kangaroo-court systems many universities have adopted under OCR pressure. The investigation of Harvard College is still under way, and the university could do far worse than to follow the lead of Harvard Law, the school that pushed back.

  • In Wake of Allegations, 38 Law School Profs Sign Letter ‘in Support of’ Dershowitz

    January 26, 2015

    A group of 38 Harvard Law School professors have signed a letter “in support of” Law School professor emeritus Alan M. Dershowitz, who was recently accused of having sexual relations with a minor who was allegedly trafficked by billionaire Jeffrey E. Epstein...A group of three Law School faculty members—Nancy Gertner, Charles J. Ogletree, Jr., and Philip B. Heymann—began the effort to write the letter in support of their colleague late last week, Gertner and Heymann said...In an interview, Heymann said he took issue with how “Jane Doe No. 3’s” lawyers presented their allegations against Dershowitz. "[The allegations have] been set up, either purposely or by accident, I don't know which, in a way that denies him all opportunity to defend his reputation [in court]," Heymann said, adding that "he can say it, but to have the [charges] resolved officially [in court] has been put out of reach."

  • Alan Dershowitz gets support of Harvard professors

    January 23, 2015

    Three dozen Harvard Law School professors on Thursday rallied to the defense of their emeritus colleague, Alan M. Dershowitz, who last month was named by a woman as one of several men with whom she allegedly had sex as a minor. Coming one day after the woman filed a sworn statement repeating her allegations, the statement by the law professors sharply criticized the woman’s lawyers for making the allegations in a lawsuit to which Dershowitz is not a party. As a result, he is not able to make a direct response in court.

  • A Nightmare of False Accusation That Could Happen to You

    January 15, 2015

    An op-ed by Alan Dershowitz. Imagine the following situation: You’re a 76-year-old man, happily married for nearly 30 years, with three children and two grandchildren. You’ve recently retired after 50 years of teaching at Harvard Law School. You have an unblemished personal record, though your legal and political views are controversial. You wake up on the day before New Year’s Eve to learn that two lawyers have filed a legal document that, in passing, asserts that 15 years ago you had sex on numerous occasions and in numerous locations with an underage female. The accusation doesn’t mention the alleged victim’s name—she’s referred to as Jane Doe #3, and the court document includes no affidavit by her...Welcome to the Kafkaesque world of American justice. But Kafka was writing fiction when he described the ordeal faced by Josef K in his famous novel, “The Trial.” What I have described is real. It is happening to me right now. And if it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone.

  • The Case Against Boycotting SodaStream

    December 22, 2014

    An op-ed by Alan M. Dershowitz. I write to commend President Faust’s decision to investigate the unilateral action of the Harvard University Dining Services to boycott SodaStream products. I have visited the SodaStream factory and spoken to many of its Palestinian-Arab employees, who love working for a company that pays them high wages and provides excellent working conditions. I saw Jews and Muslims, Israeli and Palestinians, working together and producing an excellent product that is both healthy and economical.

  • At Educational Event, a Modern Legal Interpretation of a Biblical Story

    November 17, 2014

    The facts were undeniable: The defendant, one Abraham (no known surname), had teetered on the brink of stabbing his son Isaac to death, only to be stopped by divine intervention. Luckily he had a lawyer with a thirst for tough cases, not to mention a jury pool consisting exclusively of people who proudly claim to be descended from the accused...For the prosecution: Eliot Spitzer, a former governor and attorney general of New York. For the defense: Alan M. Dershowitz, the Harvard Law School professor who was one of Mr. Spitzer’s former professors but is perhaps better known for defending O. J. Simpson and other notorious clients.

  • Harvard’s view on consent at issue in sexual assault policy

    November 17, 2014

    In the fierce debate about campus sexual assault, Harvard University’s policy has come under particular scrutiny, assailed by some professors as a product of political correctness that stacks the deck against the accused. But a range of specialists who help colleges handle misconduct allegations say Harvard’s policy is decidedly mainstream...Alan Dershowitz, an emeritus Harvard Law professor who was among those who signed the article, said colleges have adopted broadly similar policies on sexual assaults in keeping with federal mandates, which he said are biased against the accused. “It’s really not a criticism of Harvard,” he said. “It’s a criticism of the federal government. It’s a criticism of the Obama administration.”

  • Bible’s Abraham to Be Tried in New York

    November 14, 2014

    It was a father-son hiking trip gone terribly wrong. When they reached the mountain peak, the father tied up his son, placed him on a pile of firewood and prepared to slash the boy’s throat—until he heard a voice telling him to stop. On Sunday, the father—also known as the biblical patriarch Abraham —will be brought up on charges of attempted murder and endangering the welfare of his son, Isaac, in a mock trial at Temple Emanu-El synagogue on the Upper East Side...Presiding over the Old Testament-inspired case will be U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan. Representing Abraham will be high-profile defense attorney Alan Dershowitz. Former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer will lead the prosecution.

  • Teachers decry Harvard’s shift on sex assaults

    October 15, 2014

    Twenty-eight current and retired Harvard Law School professors are asking the university to abandon its new sexual misconduct policy and craft different guidelines for investigating allegations, asserting that the new rules violate the due process rights of the accused. “This is an issue of political correctness run amok,” said Alan M. Dershowitz, an emeritus Harvard Law professor who was among the faculty members signing an article, sent to the Globe’s Opinion page, that is critical of the new procedures...The professors said the new policy fails to ensure adequate representation for the accused and includes rules governing sexual conduct between two impaired students that are “starkly one-sided as between complainants and respondents, and entirely inadequate to address the complex issues involved in these unfortunate situations involving extreme use and abuse of alcohol and drugs by our students.” In addition to Dershowitz, faculty members who signed the letter included Elizabeth Bartholet, Nancy Gertner, and Charles Ogletree.

  • The Education of a Wartime President

    October 3, 2014

    An op-ed by Professor Emeritus Alan Dershowitz: Last year the Obama administration issued, with considerable fanfare, a new military policy designed to reduce civilian casualties when U.S. forces are attacking enemy targets. This policy required "near certainty" that there will be no civilian casualties before an air attack is permitted. When Israel acted in self-defense this summer against Hamas rocket and tunnel attacks, the Obama administration criticized the Israeli army for "not doing enough" to reduce civilian casualties. When pressed about what more Israel could do—especially when Hamas fired its rockets and dug its terror tunnels in densely populated areas, deliberately using humans as shields—the Obama administration declined to provide specifics.

  • A House Divided

    September 22, 2014

    The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign definitively told Steven Salaita this month that he was out of a job there. Debate about whether the university did the right thing in pulling his job offer weeks before the start of classes due to the tenor of his anti-Israel remarks on Twitter lives on....Some, including Alan Dershowitz, a Harvard law professor who backed Summers and opposed the tenure bid of Norman Finkelstein, the controversial former political scientist at DePaul University, have a more cynical take. Dershowitz said that in his experience, academics working in STEM tend, “in general, to be more objective and principled, and those in the humanities tend to be ideologues and results-oriented, and believe it’s the appropriate role of the scholar to use his or her podium to propagandize students.”

  • A choice of evils

    September 18, 2014

    An op-ed by Alan Dershowitz. Part 5. Preventing terrorism often requires a choice of evils: to target terrorists and their leaders, knowing civilians will be killed; to collect massive amounts of private data in an effort to track terrorists; to detain potential terrorists without trial. But perhaps no choice of evils is more controversial than the use of torture to secure real-time intelligence against imminent acts of terrorism. Is there ever a justification for the use of torture?

  • Targeted killings and the rule of law

    September 17, 2014

    An op-ed by Alan Dershowitz. Part 4. President Obama recently announced that the United States had targeted and killed Ahmed Abdi Godane, the leader of an Al Qaeda-linked group of terrorists in Somalia, and that it is now targeting ISIS leaders for assassination. We have, of course, targeted several alleged terrorists in the past, including at least one US citizen. Although our government’s official position is that we would prefer to capture and detain wanted terrorists, rather than kill them, the way the Navy SEAL team went after Osama bin Laden strongly suggests we preferred him dead rather than alive. But his killing may have been an exception — because of his high visibility — to the salutary general rule that it is better to capture than to kill, if for no other reason than that a live detainee is a potential source of valuable intelligence. But what should a democracy, constrained by the rule of law, do if a dangerous terrorist cannot be captured, or can only be captured with undue risk to our soldiers?

  • Detentions of war

    September 16, 2014

    An op-ed by Alan Dershowitz. Part 3. How should a nation committed to the rule of law deal with captured terrorists who are believed to be dangerous but who cannot realistically be brought to trial? This issue has arisen in the context of the debate over whether to close the US prison at Guantanamo Bay, which candidate Barack Obama promised to do, but President Obama has not yet done. A major reason why Guantanamo remains open is that it contains several detainees — the precise number is unknown — who, if released, would almost certainly return to a life of terrorism. Indeed, some have, and many in detention have overtly stated their malignant intentions. Others have histories that suggest the likelihood of recidivism. But even some of the most dangerous detainees cannot be tried, either because there is insufficient admissible evidence of a specific crime or because the evidence comes from undercover sources the government is unwilling to out. If Guantanamo were to be closed, as it should be, and the detainees transferred to other facilities, the basic problem would still remain.

  • Surveillance and privacy

    September 15, 2014

    An op-ed by Alan Dershowitz. Part 2. The recent disclosure by Edward Snowden of the US government’s wide net of surveillance has stimulated an emotional debate about security, privacy, and secrecy. We have learned from Snowden that the National Security Agency engages in virtually unchecked monitoring of all sorts of communications that were thought to be private but that we now know are maintained in secret government databases. Three fundamental issues are raised by these disclosures: Was it proper for the government to conduct such massive surveillance and to maintain such extensive files? Was it proper for the government to keep its surveillance program secret from the public? If not, did this governmental impropriety justify the unlawful disclosure of so much classified information by Snowden?