In Defense of Dershowitz: Critics Slam Harvard Professor For Ethical Representation and Intellectual Opinions

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Alan Dershowitz is hardly someone in need of the defense of others. However, there is a disturbing level of acrimony and personal attacks directed at the retired Harvard professor after he agreed to speak in defense of President Donald Trump. As I tweeted last night, I have strong disagreements with Dershowitz over his theory that impeachment articles must be based on criminal acts. However, I thought his presentation last night was outstanding. It was powerfully presented and he made some compelling points. While we disagree, it is a presentation that everyone should have watched. The shame is that few people are watching and even fewer are listening. To make matters worse, liberals (who pride themselves on supporting individual rights) are attacking Dershowitz for defending unpopular individuals like O.J. Simpson and Jeffrey Epstein. That is what criminal defense attorneys do. They represent accused and often highly unpopular individuals. It is the rankest form of attack to suggest that a lawyer defending a client is somehow tainted by the crimes alleged in the case.

I have previously discussed my disagreement with Dershowitz’s theory, including what I believe is a misreading of the trial of Andrew Johnson and defense of Justice Benjamin Curtis. This however is a good-faith academic dispute. Dershowitz put on a marvelous defense of his view last night.

Indeed, as a Madisonian scholar, my only objection was when Hamilton’s picture was used for Madison. The image appears to be Alexander Hamilton by John Trumbull from 1792. It was an ironic moment since Dershowitz was objecting that commentators are blurring the views of the Framers. But I digress.

I still believe that he is wrong on a number of points from the meaning of “high misdemeanors” in England to “common law” of impeachment. Where we agree (and I testified earlier to this point) is that basing an impeachment solely on a non-criminal abuse of power is the most difficult and problematic courses for the House. I also agree that such an allegation invites subjective and abusive theories.

However, what concerns me most about the commentary is the ad hominem attacks on Dershowitz. Commentators attack him for taking famous, high-profile cases and portray him as only motivated by the press. They do not make the same objections to liberal professors and commentators who routinely take such cases and make media appearances from Laurence Tribe to Neil Katyal to Noah Feldman. They agree with their opinions so their motivations are not questioned. The fact is that none of their motivations should be questioned. They are all insightful and influential thinkers.

I fail to understand why defenses in cases like OJ Simpson or Von Below is an indictment of Dershowitz as an attorney. He is an unabashed and iconic defense attorney. He has earned respect for his advocacy on behalf of some of the most despised individuals. We have had our strong disagreements. However, I still respect his career and his intellect.

Rather than “ineffective,” Dershowitz’s argument laid out the best possible case for a highly challengeable theory. He showed that there is a defensive basis for theory and last night certainly showed the Dershowitz has not diminished in his skills or intellectual prowess. I would not obviously have made this theory the center of the Trump defense. However, if the President wanted to make such a case, Dershowitz gave him the best possible presentation of its merits. Again, Alan Dershowitz needs no defense, but he deserves a modicum of respect for erudite and elegant argument.

252 thoughts on “In Defense of Dershowitz: Critics Slam Harvard Professor For Ethical Representation and Intellectual Opinions”

  1. No, I was actually pointing out that Jinn’s theory that the whistleblower was actually planted, as some part of a plot to get Trump reelected
    _______________________________________
    Yes and I pointed out that proves that you were intentionally lying when you asserted I was parroting Media matters.

    I have stated repeatedly that the whistle blower has helped trump get reelected. Whether it is intentional or not is another question. It is hard to believe that the CIA and the rest of the intelligence apparatus are so stupid as to not see that the WB complaint could only in the end benefit trump and harm Biden.

    But if you want to believe that the CIA just accidentally helped trump get reelected in 2020 and that Comey and the FBI just accidentally in 2016 smeared Hillary with repeated allegations that she was the subject in criminal investigations then go ahead.

    1. what? the WB complaint has been a major thorn., don’t try and exonerate the CIA meddlers and saboteurs

      I guess Rand had a point; we dont know that the wispy bearded Eric Chiaramella is the whistleblower, maybe he’s just a malingering Obama leftover stinking up whatever room he pollutes with his presence

      1. what? the WB complaint has been a major thorn.,
        ___________________________________________
        It has certainly been a major thorn for the Bidens and
        as I said you would have to believe the CIA is retarded to think that they would not see that it would be a lot more harmful to Biden than to Trump.

        1. when i say CIA stay behinds and saboteurs i generally am indicating the Brennan faction inside of it. I’ve tried to be fair about that, and although I suspect the brennan faction is still very strong, if not pervasive, surely there’s some spooks and analysts in there somewhere doing their jobs with integrity.

          Now to the point, i think it has harmed the bidens but why does that matter to the CIA or the Brennan faction which lingers on inside it?

          they obviously dislike Trump and want to trouble him. and they have. they’re out for the agency this faction, or at least how they perceive their interests as intersecting with it. Loyalty to the US is questionable.

          About Biden,. I said this months ago, Pelosi and the pantsuit mafia don’t like Biden and by bringing this to the fore, they threw him under the bus too

          Their horse is Warren or Klobuchar maybe if Warren fails. i’ve been hearing klobuchar’s name on NPR more recently and of course it’s really just the beginning. once it starts up in earnest the front runner often changes. like howard dean was out front and first then poof it was kerry and edwards then poof edwards was gone too.

          they will find a way to icepick bernie too eventually. they dont like him. you prolly do too eh? just guessing here

          they want a woman versus Trump rematch, even though that will fail even worse than Hillary did. far worse.

          I dont like Hillary. However. Hillary was an exceptionally strong operator in so many ways it’s hard to describe. I think over time we will see that she was always a strong hand directing the charming Bill Clinton. She lacks charm but she is smart and cunning and super well connected. I dislike her but i can admire the decades of cunning. History will not forget her. She is ten times the politician that Pelosi ever was. There’s pretty much no comparison.

          1. Now to the point, i think it has harmed the bidens but why does that matter to the CIA or the Brennan faction which lingers on inside it?
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            I don’t know…they must like trump and want to help him

            ____________________________________
            they obviously dislike Trump and want to trouble him.
            ________________________________________

            That is obviously the story that we are being fed but the facts contradict the narrative…

          2. ike howard dean was out front and first then poof it was kerry and edwards then poof edwards was gone too.

            The shift in discernable opinion in 2004 occurred over a period of about 12 days. Dean and Gephardt had been leading up until that point and eventually placed 3d and 4th.

            If there’s anything odd going on right now, it would appear to be a Klobberherworkers surge in Iowa. If she finishes 3d, that takes a chunk out of Booty-gig and Princess Spreading Bull.

            1. One other oddity: Bloomberg polls satisfactorily in national surveys, but not in any early contests.

  2. Umm… cases like OJ Simpson, von Bulow and Epstein are relevant to the character of Big D because, besides being unpopular, Dershowitz chose them because they were very rich and attracted massive media coverage.

    It’s entirely disingenuous to pretend that he’s simply fulfilling the noble aspirations of a defence lawyer however unpopular it makes him – he deliberately picks rich unpopular clients who guarantee notoriety.

    Let him go and defend some pennliess African Americans who are on Death Row because of dofgy convictions, then I’ll believe you…

    1. “Let him go and defend some pennliess African Americans who are on Death Row because of dofgy convictions, then I’ll believe you…”
      ****************
      Ah … he’s done that, too.

      “Not all Dershowitz’s clients, however, are celebrities. He conducts PRO BONO work for those unable to afford a lawyer, let alone his reputed $400-an-hour fee.”
      https://law.jrank.org/pages/6082/Dershowitz-Alan-Morton.html

      That search took .48 seconds.

      The first step to stupidity is willful ignorance.

    2. Jon:

      Oh and here’s the specific answer to your question:

      “After clerking for an appellate court judge and US Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg, Mr Dershowitz joined the Harvard Law School faculty in 1964 as an associate professor and became the school’s youngest tenured professor three years later, at age 28. In the ensuing years he published more than 1,000 articles and 30 books, taught courses in criminal and constitutional law, and defended numerous death row inmates pro bono.”

      https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-30705703

    3. Jon:
      And finally you might want to read Tison v. Arizona, 481 U.S. 137 (1987), where he defended not one but two penniless Caucasian-Americans in a murder trial on the issue of punishment under the state’s felony murder rule. That went to the SCOTUS and resulted in a new hearing for both. Does representing penniless white folks count?

  3. Found his point re: precedent to be a compelling one. If POTUS were to condition aid to Israel on settlement cessation, and was viewed to benefit politically from it that cessation, would that leave him or her vulnerable to impeachment? 🤔

  4. Like you, Prof. Dershowitz has been attacked for merely doing what he pledged to do as an attorney. But sadly our society has become wholly intolerant if it serves the purpose of defeating the opposition. God allows us to hate what is evil, but he doesn’t condone using differences in judgment to destroy one another.

    1. in the Old Testament, God commanded the Hebrews to “slay every man, woman, child, and beast of the field” at Jericho and Amalek and other sites. Hard to see how that jives with your statement about “personal differences”

      God’s apparently perfectly ok with heaps of death and destruction, to say the least.

      See maybe my understanding of theology is inadequate, but not for having taken four years of it in high school and year of it at university! Somehow in all that time they never explained what happened at Jericho and how that fit into the “plan of redemption,” etc etc etc.

      My spell checker never heard of Amalek either– its trying to get me to say “tamale” instead! Look it up.

  5. Trump’s Defense Forgets CrowdStrike

    Conspiracy Theory Was Trump’s Alone

    Trump’s defense team ended an extended opening argument Tuesday in which it laid out that Trump had legitimate reasons to ask Ukraine for specific investigations.

    But it spent almost no time vouching for the actual investigations he wanted.

    To the extent that Trump’s team tried to argue that the investigations were legitimate, it focused mostly on the idea that Hunter Biden’s employment at a Ukrainian gas company was problematic. It spent considerably less time arguing for the theory that Trump actually raised with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky on their phone call: that then-Vice President Joe Biden sought to help his son by pushing out Ukraine’s top prosecutor.

    Ditto the other investigation Trump sought. In fact, Trump’s legal team spent literally zero time talking about the one involving CrowdStrike and a server that was supposedly in Ukraine. Trump’s team didn’t utter the word “CrowdStrike” once in three days, in fact, nor did it even mention a “server” in Ukraine. It instead more broadly defended the idea that Ukraine might have interfered in the 2016 election.

    Edited from: “Trump’s Defense Did Not Mention CrowdStrike Theory”

    This evening’s Washington Post
    ……………………………………………………………

    Trump’s pressure campaign on Ukraine’s Zelensky was not limited to Hunter Biden. Trump wanted Zelensky to publicly ‘admit’ that hackers based in the Ukraine were responsible for meddling in the 2016 U.S. election. Trump’s aides had told him repeatedly that such a scenario was a baseless conspiracy theory. But Trump raised the issue with Zelensky and wanted an admission.

    1. leak not a hack is proven by data analysis performed by former NSA man William Binney

      fbi did not follow standard operating procedures in securing hardware related to the relevant leak
      any garden variety criminal defense lawyer can tell you they usually go out and TAKE all the server hardware into their own possession if they can and not just rely on some “analysis” by a private outfit like Crowdstrike that had self serving biased motivations. evidence 101. and where were some of the remote data transfer nodes? Yes, Ukraine. hmmmm.

      hence it was not just Trump’s “theory” it is an insight and one shared by many

      we have been over this, but you just keep repeating the same establishment narratives even when contrary to proven facts

    2. Trump’s pressure campaign on Ukraine’s Zelensky was not limited to Hunter Biden. Trump wanted Zelensky to publicly ‘admit’ that hackers based in the Ukraine were responsible for meddling in the 2016 U.S. election. Trump’s aides had told him repeatedly that such a scenario was a baseless conspiracy theory. But Trump raised the issue with Zelensky and wanted an admission.
      __________________________________________________
      All of that is just so ridiculous.
      What does the newly elected president of Ukraine know about a computer hack that happened years ago half way around the world? What is there for Ukraine to investigate about Hunter who has never been inside Ukraine?

      You may take what trump is saying seriously but Zelensky is rational, how could he possible take that rambling nonsense seriously?

  6. Jinn may have learned from David Brock’s “Media Matters” to abandon any thoughts of a possible Vindmans/ whistleblower collaboration.

      1. “Blah, blah, blah….”
        When you’re that articulate, why do you waste such outstanding prose on a blog?

    1. Jinn may have learned from David Brock’s “Media Matters” to abandon any thoughts of a possible Vindmans/ whistleblower collaboration.
      ____________________________________________
      How about a Trump whistleblower collaboration?
      Given that the whistleblower has helped trump enormously to get elected in 2020 that seems like a far more likely collaboration.

        1. I think Jinn’s theory that the whistleblower was actually part of a plot to help Trump win in November…
          _____________________________________________
          You seem to be now admitting your previous comment about Media Matters was a flat out lie?

          1. No, I was actually pointing out that Jinn’s theory that the whistleblower was actually planted, as some part of a plot to get Trump reelected, was one of the craziest comments Jinn has made.
            And that is no small accomplishment on Jinn’s part.

    2. Jinn is Anon is bythebook…and counting…

      one and the same Media Matters troll, not that anyone at Media Matters has a ounce of brain tissue that works

      “John Bolton, Trump’s pick for national security adviser, has a record of warmongering, bigotry, and pushing conspiracy theories”

      John Bolton will replace current National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, likely because Trump enjoys his commentary”

      “Bolton has repeatedly praised Trump on Fox and headlined fundraisers for him”

      “Bolton has spread conspiracy theories in his media appearances”

      “Bolton has ties to anti-Muslim bigotry”

      all of the above are from the same talking points that the trolls on here use…..word for word

      https://www.mediamatters.org/sean-hannity/john-bolton-trumps-pick-national-security-adviser-has-record-warmongering-bigotry-and

      1. Once Flynn was successfully taken out in first few weeks, even an overly trusting Trump and Team must have realised that NSC was part of a generally hostile Establishment gunning for him. Therefore Bolton was most likely a case of Trump wanting to keep some of his enemies closer so that he could know directly what they wanted, where they were willing to apply pressure and where they might look the other way. At some point Bolton wanted too much and Trump had to push him out, but the NSC is still a hostile, Establishment bloc dead set against him. Assuming he wins a second term, expect to see it dismantled or significantly changed.

    3. Will we ever get past this Media Matters conspiracy theory?

      Conspiracy theories are for simpletons who want simple answers.

        1. Tom, rightwing media doesn’t exist? No conservative relies only on rightwing sources? We’re supposed to pretend there’s no difference between mainstream and rightwing? All these premises sound like denial.

          1. No more than the left wing media.
            It was probably inevitable that after a thousand or so mentions of “Fox, “right wing media bubble”, “Hannity”, etc., the Brock crew would get called out.
            That’s the problem when the same few idiots have been screeching those “magic words” endlessly, as if they are actually making some kind of a point.
            You got a free pass for far too long, Brock Boy.
            If so want to claim that simpletons bring up Media Matters, you should probably review the record to see how many times simpletons like you bring up the phrases I mentioned.

            1. Tom, in case you”ve been away from America, the country is highly polarized. Rightwing media spins many narratives that never go mainstream. It’s not a good thing. One can say Americans now dwell in separate realities.

              Here, on this blog, the Trump supporters have total disdain for mainstream media. Conservatives have had that grievance since the Nixon era. Roger Ailes, the founding boss at Fox, was from the Nixon White House.

              So we needn’t play this game where the rightwing bubble is just a ‘myth’. We know how real it is!

              1. We “needn’t play this game”, but I don’t think that Seth/ Phillip/ Burgouyne/ Skeen/ Phillip/Schill etc., (and a few others) could get by without it.
                The repetitive, obsessive mention of and reference to “right wing media bubble/ Fox News/ Hannity” aren’t coming from the conservatives on the blog.
                This isn’t about the political polarization, or the fact that there are far left, left leaning publications and far right, right leaning publications.
                This is about Seth and Co.’s belief that mentioning “Fox News/ right wing media bubble/ Hannity” is making some kind of a point.
                After a thousand? two thousand? repeat performances of that same mantra by the Shill/ Natacha crowd, it’s overdue and fitting to say that Brock needs new mouthpieces.

                1. This isn’t about the political polarization, or the fact that there are far left, left leaning publications and far right, right leaning publications.
                  ___________________________________

                  There is very little else…
                  They both tend to be bubbles where the dubious narratives bounce around (echos) and are repeated endlessly.
                  There are very few places where you can get good verifiable information that is not just part of the echoing narratives of one or the other of the two bubbles.

      1. I dont know anything about media matters….. but a conspiracy is essentially a hidden plan among people, with illicit means to secure nefarious objectives. conspiracies are real and are proven in court day after day.

        denouncing dissenting views as “conspiracy theories” actually was another one of these CIA schemes, speak of the devil

        CIA Dispatch #1035-960 obtained by FOIA request transcribed here http://www.jfklancer.com/CIA.html

        of course any conspiracy theory is really just a hypothesis unless it’s proven with evidence.

        1. It isn’t likely to happen, Mr. Kurtz, but it would be instructive for Brock Boys Seth/ Phillip/Peter/ Burgouyne/ Shill/ Hill/ to total up the number of times phases like right wing media bubble, Fox News, and Hannity” were used by him and a few others.
          Long before Media Matters and Brock were brought up, and far more often.
          What’s likely to happen when a crew of the same few people endlessly repeat those same stupid comments is that the “left wing media bubble” will be brought up.
          Too bad if Seth/ Phillip/ Peter/ Burgoyne/ Shill/Hill gets pissy about it.

            1. You are improving; that’s a step up from your earlier “blah, blah, blah” masterpiece.
              We’ll be monitoring your progress.🧐

  7. I do not understand how Turley fails to get WHY Democrats castigate Dershowitz. Here iit is. The Democrats are no longer the “thinking party.” If they ever were, those days have been long gone since at least the time Bork was Borked. The Democrats have become a rabid mob that hollers “racist!” at everybody who disagrees with them. (Or homophobe or xenophobe.)

    I think the Negroes are behind this decline in white, liberal mentality. I mean, Brown vs. B of E was supposed to fix the problem, then the Civil Rights legislation of the 60s, and then the Great Society. Because all their problems were a result of mean old white folks. But dang, the more the Democrats do for them, the worse things get. That makes for a powerful basis for an extreme case of cognitive dissonance, and I think that simply putting their fingers in their ears and hollering “racist!” has become a habit with them. Kind of like thumb-sucking. Whatever the issue, the Democrats have become used to just putting their fingers in their ears and hollering out some insane version of “racist!” applicable to whatever the current thing that bothers them.

    But anyway, for whatever reason the Democrats are no longer a party of ideas, but instead a party of solidarity. It is them, the howling mob, arrayed against the forces of Reason and Right, and you are either with them, or you are agin’ them!

    That is how primal and basic Democrats have become.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

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