Maxine Waters does not speak for Democrats or liberals


By Alan M. Dershowitz


Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) recently told her supporters to hound President Trump’s Cabinet members wherever they find them: “They’re not going to be able to go to a restaurant, they’re not going to be able to stop at a gas station, they’re not going to be able to shop at a department store. The people are going to turn on them, they’re going to protest, they’re going to absolutely harass them.”


Waters does not speak for all Democrats or liberals. Nor do those who threw Sarah Huckabee Sanders out of the Red Hen restaurant. Neither do those who have harassed other members of the Trump administration. But these rude extremists are a symptom of the times. The divisions have gotten so bad that many on both sides refuse to speak or listen to those on the other side. Either you are for Trump or against him, and that is all some people need to know to make judgments about you.


I know this because I have experienced this firsthand on Martha’s Vineyard. I am not a Trump supporter nor am I member of the Trump administration. I have strongly and publicly opposed his immigration policies, ranging from the travel ban that was upheld by the Supreme Court to the zero-tolerance policy that led to the separation of parents and children at the border. I oppose other Republican policies as well. I voted for, and contributed handsomely, to Hillary Clinton.


But I have defended Trump’s civil liberties, along with those of all Americans, just as I would have defended Hillary Clinton’s civil liberties had she been elected and subjected to efforts of impeachment tor prosecution. My book, “The Case Against Impeaching Trump,” could just as easily have been the case against impeaching Hillary Clinton. I am opposed to appointing a special counsel to investigate Hillary Clinton’s campaign, and I was against it for Trump. I am a liberal Democrat in politics, but a neutral civil libertarian when it comes to the Constitution.


But that is not good enough for some of my old friends on Martha’s Vineyard. For them, it is enough that what I have said about the Constitution might help Trump. So they are shunning me and trying to ban me from their social life on Martha’s Vineyard. One of them, an academic at a distinguished university, has told people that he would not attend any dinner or party to which I was invited. He and others have demanded “trigger warnings” so that they can be assured of having “safe spaces” in which they will not encounter me or my ideas. Others have said they will discontinue contributions to organizations that sponsor my talks.


This is all familiar to me, since I lived through McCarthyism in the 1950s, when lawyers who represented alleged communists on civil libertarian grounds were shunned. Some of these lawyers and victims of McCarthyism lived on Martha’s Vineyard. I never thought I would see McCarthyism come to Martha’s Vineyard, but I have. I wonder if the professor who refuses to listen to anything I have to say also treats his students similarly. Would he listen to a student who actively supported Trump? What about one who simply supported his civil liberties?


These childish efforts to shun me because I refused to change my position on civil liberties that I have kept for half a century discourages vibrant debate and may dissuade other civil libertarians from applying their neutral principles to a president of whom they disapprove. But one good thing is that being shunned by some “old friends” on Martha’s Vineyard has taught me who my real friends are and who my fairweather friends were. From a personal point of view, I could not care less about being shunned by people whose views regarding dialogue I do not respect.


But this is not about me, nor is it about Sarah Huckabee Sanders, or Stephen Miller, or Betsy DeVos. This is about the United States of America. It is about our growing intolerance toward opposing views. President Trump certainly bears some of the responsibility for this divisiveness, but Maxine Waters and those who advocate harassing political opponents share much of the responsibility as well. They are both the symptom and the cause of the divisiveness in this country.


I will not change my views as a result of these attempts to ostracize me, but there are some who may remain silent for fear of being shunned. Silence is not my style. Cowardice is not my philosophy. I intend to speak up when I disagree with Republicans, and I intend to speak up when I disagree with Democrats. Right now I am speaking up in disagreement with Maxine Waters. She — like those who shun me on Martha’s Vineyard — is part of the problem rather than the solution.


Alan M. Dershowitz is the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law, Emeritus, at Harvard Law School.



A Washington Post article of Alan Dershowitz's own account


By Kristine Phillips


Alan Dershowitz says he has been shunned — first by old political allies who have stopped inviting him to dinners, and now by liberal elites who are trying to exclude him from their social circles on Martha's Vineyard.


The reason, he says, is his unrelenting (? ) defense of President Trump's civil liberties — a position that Dershowitz says he would have also taken for Hillary Clinton had she won the presidency and was similarly under investigation amid calls for impeachment.


The Harvard law professor and attorney who defended O.J. Simpson says that he is a lifelong liberal but a hard-liner on civil liberties and that he's not about to flip his views just because of attempts to ostracize him.


“These childish efforts to shun me because I refused to change my position on civil liberties that I have kept for half a century discourages vibrant debate and may dissuade other civil libertarians from applying their neutral principles to a president of whom they disapprove,” Dershowitz wrote in a recent column for the Hill. “But one good thing is that being shunned by some 'old friends' on Martha's Vineyard has taught me who my real friends are and who my fairweather friends were.”


Dershowitz has been criticized by some legal scholars for making the case that Trump cannot be guilty of obstruction of justice simply by exercising one of the powers of his office to fire James B. Comey as FBI director — even if Trump's motive may have been to shut down an investigation.


In a column for the Washington Examiner last summer, Dershowitz wrote that Trump had the power to order Comey to end the investigation into Michael Flynn, the president's former national security adviser.


“The president can, as a matter of constitutional law, direct the attorney general, and his subordinate, the director of the FBI, tell them what to do, whom to prosecute and whom not to prosecute,” Dershowitz wrote. “Indeed, the president has the constitutional authority to stop the investigation of any person by simply pardoning that person.”


[Alan Dershowitz’s new reality: Tweeted by Trump, shunned by liberal friends]


Dershowitz also has been critical of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, who is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and whether actions by Trump and his subordinates constitute efforts to obstruct that investigation.


Appearing on “Fox & Friends” in December, Dershowitz said Mueller had been “sloppy” in conducting the investigation and raised questions about whether the probe was biased against Trump. On “Hannity” in April, Dershowitz said Mueller appeared to be “laundering information to another prosecutorial authority.” Dershowitz was referring to the ongoing investigation by the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Southern District of New York on Michael Cohen, Trump's longtime personal attorney, which was referred to the agency by Mueller.


Dershowitz has earned praise in conservative circles, including from talk host Rush Limbaugh and Trump, of course.


But Dershowitz, according to the man himself, has become the subject of scorn in other circles, despite having voted for Clinton and twice for Barack Obama. He reminded people that he had contributed money to the Clinton campaign and had opposed appointing a special counsel to investigate her campaign, he wrote for the Hill.


“But that is not good enough for some of my old friends on Martha's Vineyard,” he wrote. “For them, it is enough that what I have said about the Constitution might help Trump.”


[Jeffrey Toobin to his former professor Alan Dershowitz: ‘What’s happened to you?’]


In a heated exchange on Anderson Cooper's CNN program in March, one of Dershowitz's former students accused the legal professor of “carrying water for Donald Trump.”


“Alan, I don't know what's going on with you,” CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin told his longtime friend and mentor.


“I'm not carrying his water; I'm saying the exact same thing I've said for 50 years,” Dershowitz responded. “And, Jeffrey, you ought to know that. You were my student. The fact that it applies to Trump now rather than applying to Bill Clinton is why people like you have turned against me.”


Dershowitz likened his alleged shunning — on Martha's Vineyard and elsewhere — to McCarthyism in the 1950s, when lawyers who represented suspected Communists were ostracized.


“I wonder if the professor who refuses to listen to anything I have to say also treats his students similarly,” Dershowitz wrote. “Would he listen to a student who actively supported Trump? What about one who simply supported his civil liberties?”


“Silence is not my style. Cowardice is not my philosophy,” he added. “I tend to speak up when I disagree with Republicans, and I intend to speak up when I disagree with Democrats.”


Specifically, he called out Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), who recently urged people to harass Trump administration officials in public.


“She — like those who shun me on Martha's Vineyard — is part of the problem rather than the solution,” Dershowitz wrote.


Dershowitz's column unleashed a fresh round of counterattacks and mockery on Twitter.


Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), a vocal critic of Trump, said: “You seem bothered your friends in Martha's Vineyard no longer invite you to nice dinners. I note the @POTUS  you defend has ripped away babies & kids from parents.”


“Lol, poor Alan Dershowitz is getting the side eye at Chilmark General Store,” Eric Boehlert, writer for the liberal Shareblue Media, said referring to a grocery store on Martha's Vineyard.


Responding to his critics, Dershowitz said Tuesday that he is “reveling not whining.”


“I'm proud of taking an unpopular, principled position that gets me shunned by partisan zealots. It's not about me. I couldn't care less about being shunned by such people,” he tweeted. “It's about their unwillingness to engage in dialogue.”


Unwillingness to hear views with which one disagrees, he said, is “a dangerous sign of the times.”