[VIDEO] Dershowitz: Acting AG ‘Made a Political Decision, Rather Than a Legal One’ on Trump EO, ‘Serious Mistake’Posted: January 30, 2017
On Monday’s broadcast of CNN’s “OutFront,” Harvard Law Professor Emeritus Alan Dershowitz reacted to Acting Attorney General Sally Yates’ announcement that the DOJ will not present arguments in defense of President Trump’s immigration order by saying Yates made a “serious mistake” and has “made a political decision, rather than a legal one.”
Dershowitz said, “Yates is a terrific public servant, but I think she’s made a serious mistake here. This is a holdover heroism. It’s so easy to be a heroine when you’re not appointed by this president and when you’re on the other side. She made a serious mistake. I think what she should have done is done a nuanced analysis of what parts of the order are constitutional, what parts are in violation of the statute, what parts are perfectly lawful. There’s an enormous distinction between green card holders on the one hand, people who are in the country and have to be thrown out on the second hand, and people who are simply applying to get visas. There is also a distinction between what’s constitutional, what’s statutorily prohibited, what’s bad policy. This is very bad policy, but what’s lawful. And I think by lumping all of them together, she has made a political decision, rather than a legal one.”
He added, “I think it’s — some of it’s constitutional, some of it’s not constitutional. For example, there is a statute that limits the president’s power, and says that visas may not be denied on the basis of religion. Read the rest of this entry »
As we survey the toxic environment in which we are soon to elect the forty-fifth president of the United States, many of us wonder: Why? Why is it this way?
James Rosen writes: As we survey the toxic environment in which we are soon to elect the forty-fifth president of the United States, many of us wonder: Why? Why is it this way?
The partisan among us will cite one of the two major-party nominees and blame him, or her, for overtaxing the system with his, or her, singularly odious baggage.
Economists and political scientists, less interested in the specific than the general, will point, perhaps more accurately, to a confluence of developments over time – the corrosion of public trust after Vietnam and Watergate, Supreme Court rulings on election laws, the twin apocalypti of globalization and the digital revolution – as the decisive factors shaping our modern political culture, with its unbearably heavy traffic of nasty primary challenges, leadership upheavals, scandals, hacks, leaks, attacks, and – gridlock.
To these explanations, I propose adding another, imparted to me by an unlikely source: Secretary of State John Kerry.
“Making conversation at one point, I asked Kerry if he had ever met one of my literary heroes. ‘Mr. Secretary, did you know William F. Buckley?’ The answer – and its forcefulness – surprised me: ‘I loved Bill Buckley.'”
We were on his first foreign trip as America’s top diplomat, in February 2013, with the traveling press corps enjoying an off-the-record wine-and-cheese event with the secretary in Cairo (to disclose this story on-the-record, I later sought and received permission from the State Department). Making conversation at one point, I asked Kerry if he had ever met one of my literary heroes. “Mr. Secretary, did you know William F. Buckley?”
The answer – and its forcefulness – surprised me: “I loved Bill Buckley.” Who knew that for the founder of National Review, the godfather of the modern conservative movement, a legendary liberal from Massachusetts harbored “love”? Why was that? I asked. Kerry resorted to Socratic Method. “Do you know who his best friend was?”
Now for those well versed in the Buckley canon, in whose ranks Kerry seemed to count himself, this amounts to a trick question.
The Buckley family and some outside observers – including this one – would cite Evan (“Van”) Galbraith, Buckley’s Yale classmate, sailing crewmate, and longest-standing friend.
A graduate, also, of Harvard Law School, Galbraith would go on to serve as a Wall Street banker, chairman of the National Review board of trustees, President Reagan’s ambassador to France, and president of Moët & Chandon.
“Buckley’s maintenance of “trans-ideological friendships” in his life reflected what some have called a genius for friendship.”
The last eulogy ever published by WFB, a supremely talented eulogist, was for Van, his friend of sixty years. Indeed, when WFB marked his eighty-second, and final, birthday, Van was one of two friends on hand, having just completed his thirtieth radiation treatment for cancer, with only months left for both men to live.
In the public imagination, however, the distinction is usually reserved for John Kenneth Galbraith (no relation), the Keynesian Harvard economist who served as President Kennedy’s ambassador to India, and who coined some enduring terms in the American political lexicon (e.g., “the affluent society,” “conventional wisdom”).
“WFB and Galbraith had met on an elevator ride in New York’s Plaza Hotel, escorting their wives to Truman Capote’s famous masked ball, the ‘Party of the Century,’ in November 1966. Buckley confronted Galbraith, right there in the elevator, about why he had tried to discourage a Harvard colleague from writing for National Review. ‘I regret that’ said Galbraith.”
This Galbraith, a skiing buddy of Buckley’s during annual retreats with their wives to winter homes in Gstaad, Switzerland, conducted the more public friendship with the era’s leading conservative. With unmatched wit and erudition, and equal instinct for the rhetorical jugular, they debated on college campuses, on the set of NBC’s “Today Show,” and of course on Buckley’s own show “Firing Line,” where Galbraith made eleven lively appearances. Read the rest of this entry »
Harvard Law Protesters voted to remove all signs on their “occupied” portion of campus that were not approved by their plenary committee. Over 50 signs were removed, including these free speech fliers.
Dave Huber reports:
The Harvard group “Reclaim Harvard Law,” which has been occupying the Law School’s Caspersen Student Center for over a month, claims it has jurisdiction over the building which they have renamed “Belinda Hall.”
After student Bill Barlow had put up flyers at Caspersen/Belinda which denounced Reclaim as anti-free speech, group members promptly took them down.
Reclaim leader AJ Clayborne, who personally had removed some of Barlow’s flyers, said that anything that goes up in Belinda Hall “must be approved by Reclaim first”:
“Belinda Hall has been reclaimed by Reclaim HLS for the purpose of creating an anti-racist environment for all and, accordingly, has a new governing body to protect that cause in a way that the institution’s existing structure, including DOS, has not. Anything that violates anti-racist values has no place in Belinda Hall.”
Barlow’s first set of signs compared the (anti-free speech) policies of Donald Trump to those of Reclaim. But “[a]fter learning about Harvard’s 501(c)(3) obligations, which could bar signs referencing Trump, [he] created new signs void of political content.”
Clayborne and Reclaim removed those signs, too…(read more)
Little children have imaginary friends. Modern liberalism has imaginary enemies.
Bret Stephens writes: Hunger in America is an imaginary enemy. Liberal advocacy groups routinely claim that one in seven Americans is hungry—in a country where the poorest counties have the highest rates of obesity. The statistic is a preposterous extrapolation from a dubious Agriculture Department measure of “food insecurity.” But the line gives those advocacy groups a reason to exist while feeding the liberal narrative of America as a savage society of haves and have nots.
The campus-rape epidemic—in which one in five female college students is said to be the victim of sexual assault—is an imaginary enemy. Never mind the debunked rape scandals at Duke and the University of Virginia, or the soon-to-be-debunked case at the heart of “The Hunting Ground,” a documentary about an alleged sexual assault at Harvard Law School. The real question is: If modern campuses were really zones of mass predation—Congo on the quad—why would intelligent young women even think of attending a coeducational school? They do because there is no epidemic. But the campus-rape narrative sustains liberal fictions of a never-ending war on women.
Institutionalized racism is an imaginary enemy. Somehow we’re supposed to believe that the same college administrators who have made a religion of diversity are really the second coming of Strom Thurmond. Somehow we’re supposed to believe that twice electing a black president is evidence of our racial incorrigibility. We’re supposed to believe this anyway because the future of liberal racialism—from affirmative action to diversity quotas to slavery reparations—requires periodic sightings of the ghosts of a racist past.
I mention these examples by way of preface to the climate-change summit that began this week in Paris. But first notice a pattern. Read the rest of this entry »
Now in its fourteenth edition, the Review is the first scholarly journal to appear after each SCOTUS term ends and the only one grounded in the nation’s first principles, liberty, and limited government
The Review has built quite a reputation over the years, and has earned some high praise from notable SCOTUS experts:
“Cato, with its emphasis on limited government and individual rights, has weighed in with a book of essays by academics and practicing lawyers that manages to skewer liberal and conservative justices alike.”
– Tony Mauro, Supreme Court correspondent, The National Law Journal and Legal Times
“Unquestionably, the definitive volume on the Supreme Court’s term.”
– Tom Goldstein, founder of SCOTUSblog (and co-chair of litigation and Supreme Court practice at Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld LLP)
In this year’s issue, Shapiro and other leading legal scholars analyze the 2014-2015 Supreme Court term, specifically focusing on the most important and far-reaching cases of the year, as well as upcoming cases to watch.
Alan Dershowitz: ‘Forget about my standard or yours. By his own standard he is an abject failure when it comes to dealing with Iran’Posted: August 5, 2015
Exclusive interview with liberal lawyer and lifelong Democrat says Obama was ‘checkmated’.
“People want to read about the deal. People want to be informed; they want to read the actual text of the deal. They want an informed judgment as to what’s good about it, what’s bad about it. There are some positive elements, but in my view most of the elements are quite negative and it virtually assures that Iran will get the bomb within a decade.”
“I got up and emailed my eBook publisher and said I have an idea. What if I do an eBook that could be out in time for the congressional debate? He thought it was a great idea,” Dershowitz explained in an exclusive interview with the Salomon Center for American Jewish Thought. “He gave me two weeks to write it. He got it in eleven days.”
Fears of Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon have haunted supporters of Israel and advocates of Middle East peace for over a decade, stoked by frequent public reminders by back-to-back regimes of the Islamic Republic that their goal is the annihilation of the Jewish State.
“All of this has been said by Obama himself. When Obama first set out the red lines, he specified 24/7 inspections – we didn’t get that. He set out that Iran would never have nuclear weapons – we didn’t get that. He set out to end the nuclear facility at Fordow – we didn’t get that. He has crossed his own red lines at least three times.”
“This book took me less than two weeks to write and ten years to research, so I’ve been thinking about and writing about this potentially for ten years,” explained Dershowitz. “I wrote my first long article about this in 2005. I had my ideas and I’ve been following the deal very closely. As soon as the deal was announced, I read it and annotated it, and the pages appear as an appendage to the book.”
“The cynical theory, which seems to be supported by the data, is that once he was out of politics, that is, once he couldn’t run again and once the House and the Senate were firmly in the hands of Republicans, he was going to do what he always wanted to do and he was less than completely candid with those of us whom he told that the military option was on the table and that Iran would never be allowed to develop nuclear weapons.”
Fifteen days after Dershowitz decided to write “The Case Against the Iran Deal: How Can We Now Stop Iran from Getting Nukes?. it was released on Kindle and the following day was the number one international Kindle best seller.
“The other theory is that he genuinely changed his mind when he saw that Iran had an opening for negotiations. And I leave it to the reader to judge which of those theories is true.”
“People want to read about the deal. People want to be informed; they want to read the actual text of the deal. They want an informed judgment as to what’s good about it, what’s bad about it,” said Dershowitz. “There are some positive elements, but in my view most of the elements are quite negative and it virtually assures that Iran will get the bomb within a decade.”
“He took the military option off the table, and that was an extraordinarilynaïve and wrong thing to do because that allowed the Iranians to negotiate with us as equals. And I’m not the only one who has said this.”
Dershowitz, who has been called by Newsweek “the nation’s most peripatetic civil liberties lawyer” and one of its “most distinguished defenders of individual rights,” wrote his latest book not just to educate the public, but to have it serve as a call to action with the hope that citizens will contact their representatives and encourage them to vote against the Iran deal.
“Many liberal Democrats I’ve spoken to believe we made a tragic negotiating mistake, that what we should have done was said to the Iranians: Look—You’re never, ever going to be able to develop nuclear weapons. That’s American policy, and we’ll stop you, whatever it takes.”
“I wrote the book, keeping in mind people I’ve known for years, Senator [Chuck] Schumer, Senator [Elizabeth] Warren, Senator [Ed] Markey, Senator [Kirsten] Gillibrand, various United States senators, Democrats and also some Republicans,” Dershowitz explained. “Clearly I want to influence the outcome of their vote by engaging directly with the senators and congressmen, first with my own writing and ideas. Second, by encouraging their constituents to read it and write to them, call them and urge them to do the right thing.”
He added, “This is not merely an academic book for posterity. It was designed to affect real policies in real time.”
Dershowitz explains that he has been writing and lecturing about the threat of a nuclear Iran for over a decade. He has discussed the subject directly with President Obama. Read the rest of this entry »
Why Aggrieved Chinese Citizens and Chinese Police Are Fighting Over Corpses
Yaqiu Wang writes: On the morning of March 16, 48-year-old Huang Shunfang went to her local hospital located in Fanghu Township in the central Chinese province of Henan. Her doctor diagnosed her with gastritis, gave her a dose of antacids through an IV, and sent her on her way. Huang died suddenly that afternoon. In the hours after her death, Huang’s family went to the hospital for an explanation and was told by the hospital leadership that “the hospital is where people die,” according to a witness’ account of the incident.
“The corpse is the most sensitive… People who have ulterior motives use the dead body to pressure the government… Onlookers, out of curiosity and sympathy, encircle the corpse forming a large crowd. If the corpse is not removed in time, a mass incident can break out at any time…”
Incensed, Huang’s family visited the local public security bureau and the health bureau, both to no avail. Four days later, on March 20, after rejecting the hospital’s offer of compensation of RMB 5,000 ($800), the family placed Huang’s corpse outside the gate of the hospital in protest. Soon, over a hundred policemen swooped in to take the body away, beating and detaining Huang’s relatives who tried to resist them.
“’Taishi kangyi,’ or ‘carrying the corpse to protest,’ is a practice with deep roots in Chinese history. Since late imperial times, people have employed it when judicial systems failed to provide a reliable channel of redress for injustice.”
A week earlier, at noon on March 9, during a forced residential demolition operation orchestrated by the township government in Jiangkou Township, Anhui province, 37-year-old Zhang Guimao died when his chicken coop collapsed on him. That afternoon, Zhang’s relatives, along with more than a hundred villagers, carried Zhang’s body into the township government office compound to demand an explanation. At midnight that day, all the streetlights suddenly went dark. Around two hundred riot police carrying shields appeared on the scene to take the body away to the crematorium, detaining at least six people in the process.
“Especially with the rise of social media in the past ten years or so, families of the dead can post photos or videos online. The rapid spread of such information can turn up the heat on local governments.”
“Taishi kangyi,” or “carrying the corpse to protest,” is a practice with deep roots in Chinese history. Since late imperial times, people have employed it when judicial systems failed to provide a reliable channel of redress for injustice. These days, corpses are dragged into all manner of disputes involving medical malpractices, forced housing demolitions, vendor’s tussles with local patrols, and compensations for workplace accidents.
When an accidental death occurs, citizens use the corpse to draw attention and invite sympathy from the wider public, all in an effort to put pressure on the authorities and to render a just outcome. This “highlights the distrust people feel about autopsies or investigations conducted by government organs and China’s justice system,” says Teng Biao, a civil-rights lawyer and visiting scholar at Harvard Law School. “Especially with the rise of social media in the past ten years or so, families of the dead can post photos or videos online. The rapid spread of such information can turn up the heat on local governments.”
“A common scene across China today pits families, friends, and local residents barricading a dead body in concentric circles against police, often numbering in the hundreds and armed with batons and shields.”
It’s that heat that perhaps has driven Chinese law enforcement to ever-more coordinated and deliberate attempts to curb corpse-keeping. A common scene across China today pits families, friends, and local residents barricading a dead body in concentric circles against police, often numbering in the hundreds and armed with batons and shields. Read the rest of this entry »
Luxurious Life As First Lady Takes Toll On Michelle Obama Because She Is Black, She Complains
Eric Owens writes: Globetrotting, Ivy League-educated, Marchesa gown-wearing first lady Michelle Obama’s commencement address at Tuskegee University on Saturday described the trials and tribulations she believes she has faced as the first black first lady in American history.
“We’ve both felt the sting of those daily slights throughout our entire lives.”
The intense media scrutiny, occasional critical and disparaging remarks — it’s all too much and she said it has led to sleepless nights either in the White House or in posh, five-star hotels where she and her retinue stay, according to The Hill.
“You might remember the on-stage celebratory fist bump between me and my husband after a primary win that was referred to as a ‘terrorist fist jab,’” she told graduates of the private, historically black science- and engineering-heavy school in Alabama.
“As potentially the first African-American first lady, I was also the focus of another set of questions and speculations; conversations sometimes rooted in the fears and misperceptions of others.”
“And over the years, folks have used plenty of interesting words to describe me. One said I exhibited ‘a little bit of uppity-ism,’” Obama said. “Another noted that I was one of my husband’s ‘cronies of color.’ Cable news once charmingly referred to me as ‘Obama’s Baby Mama.’”
“Was I too loud, or too angry, or too emasculating? Or was I too soft, too much of a mom, not enough of a career woman?”
The international jetsetter, a graduate of both Princeton University and Harvard Law School, also complained that she feels she endured a set of expectations during her husband Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign that was different than the expectations for other would-be presidential wives.
Specifically, she believes the questions she faced as a potential first lady were overly invasive.
“And over the years, folks have used plenty of interesting words to describe me. One said I exhibited ‘a little bit of uppity-ism.”
“As potentially the first African-American first lady, I was also the focus of another set of questions and speculations; conversations sometimes rooted in the fears and misperceptions of others. Was I too loud, or too angry, or too emasculating? Or was I too soft, too much of a mom, not enough of a career woman?” Obama said, according to The Hill.
Obama said she and her husband, the president of the United States and arguably the most powerful man in the world, have faced “frustrating” racism, which is “a heavy burden to carry.”
Michelle Obama has made sure to spend plenty of taxpayer dollars on an impressive run of sweet luxury vacations
“We’ve both felt the sting of those daily slights throughout our entire lives,” she griped. Read the rest of this entry »
Symposium: When strict scrutiny ceased to be strict
At SCOTUSblog, Floyd Abrams writes: The result in the Williams-Yulee case was a difficult one to predict except that it was entirely predictable that the result would be by a deeply divided Court. It is no surprise that it was a five-to-four ruling, and no surprise at all that the jurists on both sides appear to have been irritated and frustrated by the views of those on the Court with whom they differed. The same had been true in Republican Party of Minnesota v. White (2002), the Supreme Court’s last trek into the muddy constitutional waters that required an assessment of First Amendment issues in the context of judicial elections. That case was not only decided by a five-to-four vote, but one of the five Justices — Justice Sandra Day O’Connor — repeatedly announced after her retirement that she regretted her vote.
“Critics of Citizens United can take no solace from yesterday’s decision, since it is rooted in all respects in the difference between judicial elections and all others. If anything, the more the Court focuses on the special and distinct role of judges as opposed to other elected officials, the more firmly it reinforces its earlier ruling as to the latter.”
The unavoidable problem in the case stems from the reality that if judges are to be elected, they must be allowed to campaign for election. Yet, what they say in their campaigns about what they will do as judges may lead people to doubt their open-mindedness as judges.
[Also see – Williams-Yulee v. The Florida Bar: A Disappointing End by Jonathan Keim]
And when they personally raise money, at least from lawyers and potential litigants before them, it may well lead to the perception of indebtedness on their part to their contributors.
“One need not adopt wholesale Justice Scalia’s final thrust at the majority in the case to admire its beauty: ‘The First Amendment is not abridged for the benefit of the Brotherhood of the Robe.’”
The Florida Code of Judicial Conduct sought to strike a compromise, barring judicial candidates from personally soliciting campaign funds, while allowing their campaign committees to solicit funds for them and allowing the candidates to write thank-you notes to contributors. On its face, it was a perfectly reasonable, good faith effort to walk a difficult line. The First Amendment, however, is more demanding than that.
The problem with the ruling begins with an ostensible First Amendment victory. Seven of the nine members of the Court (all but Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer) concluded that strict scrutiny should apply, a usual predicate for striking one sort or another of government limitation on speech. Read the rest of this entry »
John Kerry Awarded Historic Rating! Unfortunately, Not the Good Kind: Kerry Rated ‘Worst Secretary of State in 50 Years’Posted: April 26, 2015
The Survey of 1,375 U.S. Colleges and Universities was Conducted by Foreign Policy Magazine and the College of William & Mary. John Kerry Came in Dead Last.
“I got beat by James Baker and Madeleine Albright?”
Henry Kissinger was ranked the most effective secretary of state with 32.2% of the vote. He was followed by James Baker, Madeleine Albright, and Hillary Clinton, as judged by a survey of 1,615 international relations scholars.
Kerry received only 0.3% of the votes cast. Read the rest of this entry »
Gergen should keep in mind that lame duck status has an upside: for this Administration, an uninterrupted 33-month period of limited power and diminished influence could be critical to our national interests.
Ultimate insider and establishment player David Gergen writes, among other things…
Coming home from Asia, Barack Obama is obviously going through another rough patch in his presidency. But this time, it could be more dangerous: He is perilously close to becoming a lame duck 33 months before he leaves office. That is bad for him, bad for the country and bad for the world…
“He is one of the brightest men ever to occupy the office…”
(Where is the evidence? Of this president’s intellectual brilliance? David Gergen doesn’t say)
“It would help if he and his team promised less and delivered more. It would help if more Republicans put the country first.”
(What’s causing America’s domestic impotence and global decline? Insufficient Republican patriotism. Yes, that’s it.)
“Most Americans still want him to succeed, but when television executives put him on the air, audiences often melt away.”
(When a candidate is promoted and elected on the basis of celebrity rather than fitness for office, audiences will tune him out just like any other celebrity they find disappointing or boring)
“Resisted by obstructionists among Republicans and plagued by his own mistakes, the first 12 months after re-election were a bust.”
(If only those Republicans found him more irresistible! Why aren’t they facilitating the president’s success? Why can’t they be more like Democrats?)
How Did an Essential Figure in the Modern Revival of Liberal political Philosophy End Up Pondering Issues of Theology?Posted: February 15, 2014
Beyond Naturalism: On Ronald Dworkin
For The Nation, Michael Rosen writes: The Battle of Kolin is not much remembered these days, although it was a brutal, bloody slaughter. It was fought between Prussia and Austria on June 18, 1757, as part of Frederick the Great’s long campaign to extend his territories at the Austrians’ expense. This time, however, he found the Austrians well prepared and well led. His army was outnumbered, and nearly 14,000 of his 32,000 men lost their lives. At the height of the fighting, Frederick is supposed to have screamed at his troops: “You scum! Do you want to live forever?”
The story became notorious around the German-speaking world. Many years later, Goethe said he was reminded of it when he read the first German translation of Lucretius’ famous Epicurean poem, De Rerum Natura. The association was to the point, for Frederick was an avowed Epicurean (as an absolute monarch, he could afford to be open about his lack of religious faith). He had even written a poem (in French) “in imitation of the Third Book of Lucretius,” whose subject was “the vain terrors of death and the fear of an afterlife.” No doubt, Frederick was an aggressive, ruthless militarist, but if he was a tyrant, then he was a tyrant of a particularly modern kind—one who claimed to be pursuing the common good as “the first servant of the state.”
For Enlightenment materialists like Frederick, the idea of the immortal soul was no more than superstition. Without it, there was no reason to give human beings any special status in the universe. As Jeremy Bentham said, “call them machines: so they were but happy ones, I should not care.” Now, two and a half centuries later, the fear of God handing down rewards and punishments in the next world has shrunk dramatically, and Frederick’s angry accusation points toward a more modern dilemma. Once human beings lose their fear of death, what becomes of the value of human life?
Wendy Davis Open Carry: Alienating Her Base?
Perhaps it’s a testament to Wendy Davis’ controversial image and growing national profile, or to the size and importance of Texas on the national stage, but seriously…why is the Texas Governor’s race getting so much national media attention? Particularly from conservatives?
I’m inclined to think the right-leaning media’s obsessive focus on Davis says more about her strengths as a candidate than her critics would like to admit. Otherwise, why can’t 24 hours pass without new op-eds and analysis about her campaign?
If her campaign is so doomed, and she’s not a threat, why not shut up about it, and cover something else? (note: I realize I’m contributing to the exact thing I’m complaining about, giving attention to the topic. But it’s an honest question. I’m curious why Davis and the Texas race continues to attract media attention)
Start from the premise that Wendy Davis probably was going to lose the election against Greg Abbott no matter what.
But probably wasn’t a sure thing. Abbott never was in Edwin Edwards territory: “The only way I can lose this election is if I’m caught in bed with either a dead girl or a live boy.”
It didn’t help that Davis’s narrative of being a struggling teenage single mom who brought herself up by her bootstraps all the way to Harvard Law School fell apart.
His latest topic of concern: Dinesh D’Souza. Mr. Dershowitz thinks the federal campaign fraud charges against the conservative filmmaker and author are an example of “selective prosecution.”
Weighing in on the case Friday in an interview with Law Blog, Mr. Dershowitz was withering in his opinion of the Manhattan U.S. attorney office’s prosecution of Mr. D’Souza, who pleaded not guilty last week to making illegal campaign contributions to a Republican U.S. Senate candidate in 2012.
“The idea of charging him with a felony for this doesn’t sound like a proper exercise of prosecutorial discretion,” Mr. Dershowitz said. “I can’t help but think that [D’Souza’s] politics have something to do with it. . . . It smacks of selective prosecution.” Read the rest of this entry »
The president struck a populist note in his speech, but it’s hard to tell he believes it when you look at his administration
James Oliphant writes: President Obama drew applause from the House chamber for striking what seemed to be a populist blow against elitism in his State of the Union.
“I believe that here in America, our success should depend not on accident of birth, but the strength of our work ethic and the scope of our dreams,” Obama said early in his remarks.
Looking at his administration, however, you would never know he believes that. Yes, as the president pointed out, both he and House Speaker John Boehner come from modest backgrounds. But as a graduate of Harvard Law School, Obama has shown himself more of that stripe, stuffing his administration with like-minded denizens of the Ivy League.
Mark Whittington writes: It is a rare occurrence that an essay in The Harvard Law Review can cause political controversy. But Ted Cruz, the junior senator from Texas and a Harvard Law Graduate himself, seems to have managed it. The essay in question is entitled “Limits on the Treaty Power” which explores the possible use of international treaties by an unscrupulous federal government to acquire power for itself and to take away power from the states.
The essay has lots of citations and footnotes, particularly in reference to a case before the Supreme Court called Bond v. the United States. Carol Anne Bond is a woman who attempted to poison a love rival by smearing a chemical on a door knob. The attack failed, but Bond is now serving a six year stretch for violating an anti chemical weapons treaty signed by the United States in the 1990s. The Supreme Court is to decide whether that conviction was constitutional. Cruz would like the court to place limits on the use of treaties to supersede state law.
Peggy Noonan writes: The president’s problem right now is that people think he’s smart. They think he’s in command, aware of pitfalls and complexities. That’s his reputation: He’s risen far on his brains. They think he is sophisticated.
That is his problem in the health insurance debacle.
People have seen their prices go up, their choices narrow. They have lost coverage. They have lost the comfort of keeping the doctor who knows them and knows they tend to downplay problems and not complain of pain, and so doing more tests might be in order, or tend to be hypochondriacal and probably don’t need an echocardiogram, or at least not a third one this year.
At the very least people have been inconvenienced; at the most they’ve been made more anxious in an already anxious world. In a month, at the worst they may be on a gurney in an ER not knowing the answer to the question “Do you have insurance?” and hoping they can get into an exam room before somebody runs the number on the little green plastic card they keep in the back of their wallet.
Everyone understands in their own rough way that ObamaCare is a big mess. And that it’s not the website, it’s the law itself. They have seen systems crash. In the past 20 years they’ve seen their own computers crash. They know systems and computers get fixed.
But they understand a conceptual botch when they see one. They understand this new program was so big and complex and had so many moving parts and was built on so many assumptions that may or may not hold true, and that deals with so many people with so many policies—and they know they themselves have not read their own policies, for who would when the policies, like the law that now controls the policies, are written in a way that is deliberately obscure so as to give maximum flexibility to administrators in offices far away. And that’s just your policy. What about 200 million other policies? The government can’t handle that. The government can barely put up road signs. Read the rest of this entry »
“One cannot truly understand a legal argument on behalf of one client or side without thoroughly understanding and addressing competing arguments and objections,” said Harvard Law School Dean Martha Minow at a recent Federalist Society conference on intellectual diversity in law schools. Unfortunately, this foundational tenet of legal education is not realized in the nation’s leading law schools, including Ms. Minow’s, where students learn a narrowly progressive view of the law from a predominantly leftist faculty. Our nation’s top law schools are failing their students, and in a country whose future will be shaped by those students, it is an urgent problem that we should demand law schools address.
It is beyond dispute that the nation’s top law schools are bastions of liberalism. A 2005 study by professor John O. McGinnis and lawyers Matthew Schwartz and Benjamin Tisdell found that 94 percent of Stanford Law faculty who made political contributions gave exclusively or predominantly to Democratic candidates, and although partisan affiliation is hardly the best proxy for jurisprudential and political views, the degree of the disparity is staggering. Professor Nicholas Rosenkranz of Georgetown reported at an intellectual-diversity conference that the ratio of liberal to conservative faculty at his institution is 116 to 3.
My own experience as a student at Harvard Law School is that liberal premises are assumed in most classroom discussions. Sometimes the ostracizing is explicit, as when a professor calmly explained to my class that conservative views are the result of irrational biases in favor of the status quo. Other times, it is more subtle, employing terms like “marriage equality” or “reproductive justice.” The message is the same: Conservative beliefs need not be taken seriously. This marginalization of students who dissent from campus orthodoxy on vital questions of law and policy is shameful.
But the intellectual homogeneity of the legal academy poses a deeper problem than the marginalization of conservative students. It is the predominantly liberal student body at elite law schools that is most harmed by the dearth of conservative voices. Many of these students graduate from law school without having encountered a cogent articulation of conservative views in the classroom, without having had their own ideas subjected to rigorous examination and debate.
As a result, these liberal students do not truly know why they hold the beliefs that they do, and they have little understanding of what a great proportion of their fellow citizens believe. For a group of students aspiring to be our nation’s leaders, that is serious indeed, and for a country likely to be led by such students, it presents an important problem. It is tempting to think that the ideological insularity of the legal academy need not concern those outside the Ivory Tower, but an out-of-touch academy produces out-of-touch graduates who go on to serve as judges, senators and, perhaps, presidents. The liberal academic monolith not only harms the intellectual development of students; it does grave damage to the nation’s capacity for future leadership.
Of course, there are many liberal professors who value intellectual diversity and confront their students with contrary arguments. But as John Stuart Mill once argued, a student interested in testing ideas “must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them.” No scholar, no matter how learned, can represent an opponent’s arguments as well as the opponent. A professor of mine once attempted, sincerely, to articulate the argument in favor of traditional marriage. What the class heard instead was a caricature that no rational person would find persuasive.
If our elite law schools are to serve their students and the country well, they must actively seek out the best minds representing all points of view. That does not imply giving conservative candidates preferential treatment when making hiring decisions; all candidates must be held to the same academic standards. It does mean, though, that law schools should be eager to hire scholars who represent perspectives that are absent from their faculties. Law school campuses would have a richer and more vibrant intellectual life as a result, and the country would be the primary beneficiary.
In “Gorgias,” Socrates condemns the rhetoricians who care only to persuade and calls us to engage in a serious, self-critical pursuit of truth. As Plato’s dialogues demonstrate, however, the pursuit of truth requires interlocutors who challenge and test our beliefs. The legal academy aims to produce students of truth. It risks producing mere rhetoricians. The time has come for the legal academy to rediscover its mission. Our nation’s future depends on it.
Joel Alicea, 25, is a student at Harvard Law School, president emeritus of the Harvard Federalist Society, and the organizer of the Federalist Society’s conference on intellectual diversity.
via Washington Times