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Alan Dershowitz

  • American lawyer
  • Born September 1, 1938

Alan Morton Dershowitz (; born September 1, 1938) is an American lawyer and academic. He is a scholar of United States constitutional law and criminal law and a noted civil libertarian. He began his teaching career at Harvard Law School where, in 1967, at the age of 28, he became the youngest full professor of law in its history. He held the Felix Frankfurter professorship there from 1993 until his retirement in December 2013, and has been a regular media contributor, political commentator, and legal analyst.


President Obama has earned my vote on the basis of his excellent judicial appointments, his consensus-building foreign policy and the improvements he has brought about in the disastrous economy he inherited.




I can't find anything in the Constitution that says you prefer the life of the mother, or the convenience of the mother if it's an abortion by choice, over the potential life of the fetus. Look, I think women, if they're required to not have abortions, could die and could - so I favor a woman's right to choose.




Asymmetrical warfare is a euphemism for terrorism, just like collateral damage is a euphemism for killing innocent civilians.




The sad reality is that there are no purely domestic issues in Israel. Issues that would be dealt with by municipalities in other countries - such as how to deal with a dangerous bridge or how to resolve conflicts between religious and secular bus riders - become major international issues when they occur in Israel.




Any human being has private thoughts.




For most people, the question why be good - as distinguished from merely law abiding - is a simple one. Because God commands it, because the Bible requires it, because good people go to Heaven and bad people go to Hell.




I have been defending Israel's right to exist, and to defend itself against terrorism, for many years-on college campuses, in television appearances and in debate.




In the Pentagon Papers case, the government asserted in the Supreme Court that the publication of the material was a threat to national security. It turned out it was not a threat to U.S. security. But even if it had been, that doesn't mean that it couldn't be published.




In the real world in which we live, you always have to choose between evils. And in choosing between evils, you have to have moral criteria for how to make those choices.




We don't have an Official Secrets Act in the United States, as other countries do. Under the First Amendment, freedom of the press, freedom of speech, and freedom of association are more important than protecting secrets.




There's no evidence that I'm aware of that guns reduce crime.




The court of last resort is no longer the Supreme Court. It's 'Nightline.'




I love the Bible.




I feel like my 50 years at Harvard were an interlude. I'm really a New Yorker.




I never do anything for money; I get paid a lot of money as a by-product.




Well, many insane people and seriously mentally ill people seem very reasonable.




Ed Koch will never 'rest in peace.' That was not his way. He was always nervously squirming, while making others squirm as well. Comfort was not his goal. He understood that to be a proud and assertive Jew meant never being able to leave a sigh of relief and say, 'It's over, we are at peace, we can now put down our guard and relax.'




I'm a very tough guy, and I fight hard, and I don't give up. And that makes me friends and that makes me enemies, and I know that.




No country in the history of the world has ever contributed more to humankind and accomplished more for its people in so brief a period of time as Israel has done since its relatively recent rebirth in 1948.




Well you know, all law is about injustice.




I think that lawyers are terrible at admitting that they're wrong. And not just admitting it; also realizing it. Most lawyers are very successful, and they think that because they're making money and people think well of them, they must be doing everything right.




When I was 14 or 15, a camp counselor told me I was smart. I had never been very good in school, but he told me once that I was smart but my mind operated a little differently.




Doing something because God has said to do it does not make a person moral: it merely tells us that person is a prudential believer, akin to the person who obeys the command of an all-powerful secular king.




If America has the right to target Osama bin Laden, or terrorists, of course Israel has the right to defend itself from terrorism.




The same independence that got me into trouble in high school got me praise in college.




In some ways, Israel has achieved a peace. There are fewer rockets being sent into Sderot, there are no rockets to speak of from the North, there has been very little terrorism from the West Bank. It's a kind of peace. I hope for a better and more enduring peace. Peace is not an endgame; we will never be completely at peace.




I think that lawyers are terrible at admitting that they're wrong. And not just admitting it - also realizing it.




I understand that it's good tactics to categorize me as a close-minded, unobjective extremist, but nobody that respects me has those views.




I talk with my hands. Some people don't like that. That's who I am.




Laws are important precisely because in a democracy they reflect the attitudes and aspirations of those they govern.




I never had an existential moment when I asked myself what I was going to do. I always wanted to be a lawyer, and I knew exactly the kind of lawyer I wanted to be.




The Internet knows no national borders.




It's much better to have rules that we can actually live within. And absolute prohibitions, generally, are not the kind of rules that countries would live within.




Well, first of all, no professor should be able to say, I refuse to defend my position. I refuse to debate my position.




Juries are not computers. They are composed of human beings who evaluate evidence differently.




The worst mistake you can make is underrating your enemy. Assuming that they're evil - I think it's a terrible thing to do.



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