How do you contribute?

Alan Dershowitz is the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law at the Harvard Law School. In addition to his teaching, Dershowitz is a prolific author who makes frequent media and public appearances, and who is known for his commentary on the Arab-Israeli conflict as well as his work on numerous high-profile cases. As a criminal appellate lawyer, Dershowitz successfully argued to overturn the conviction of Claus von Bulow for the attempted murder of his wife, Sunny. He also served as the appellate advisor in the criminal trial of O.J. Simpson.

Dershowitz joined the faculty of Harvard Law School as an assistant professor of law in 1964. He was made a full professor of law in 1967, at the age of 28, becoming, at that time, Harvard's youngest full law professor in the school's history. Dershowitz is also the author of more than 20 works of fiction and non-fiction, including Blasphemy: How the Religious Right is Hijacking the Declaration of Independence (2007), The Case for Israel (2003), the bestseller Chutzpah (1991), and Reversal of Fortune (1986), which was made into an Academy Award-winning film. More than a million of his books have been sold worldwide and in numerous languages.

Dershowitz joined the faculty of Harvard Law School as an assistant professor of law in 1964. He was made a full professor of law in 1967, at the age of 28, becoming, at that time, Harvard's youngest full law professor in the school's history. Dershowitz is also the author of more than 20 works of fiction and non-fiction, including Blasphemy: How the Religious Right is Hijacking the Declaration of Independence (2007), The Case for Israel (2003), the bestseller Chutzpah (1991), and Reversal of Fortune (1986), which was made into an Academy Award-winning film. More than a million of his books have been sold worldwide and in numerous languages.

  • Transcript

TRANSCRIPT

Question: How do you contribute?

Alan Dershowitz: Well I think an academic’s legacy is generally going to be in his or her writing. I’ve just finished my 25th book, and I would say half of them have a potential for enduring and having an impact on the future.

I have at least one more big book I want to write about the preventive state which brings this all together, and finally constructs a jurisprudence which can be used to deal with this increasing and growing phenomenon.

So if I want to be remembered for anything, it’s probably that I observed phenomenon that were very important that others hadn’t focused on, and tried to construct a jurisprudence to make these phenomenon subject to the rule of law. Nothing’s more important in democracy than the rule of law, and having black holes in the law, like [the US base at] Guantanamo [Bay, Cuba]; like the way the mentally ill were treated; like the way affirmative action operated for many years; like the way the Internet regulation currently operates in the free speech context; like the way we gather preventive intelligence. These are all black holes in the law, and the law should abhor a vacuum.

And I’m trying to fill that vacuum with at least a preliminary jurisprudence that will become refined over time.

 

Recorded On: June 12, 2007


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