Zealous Dems fail to hear out Trump's constitutional rights

Zealous Dems fail to hear out Trump's constitutional rights

Now that my book, “The Case Against Impeaching Trump,” has been published, the efforts to silence me have increased. When National Public Radio announced that I would be interviewed about the book, listeners wrote to demand that I not be given a forum on which to express my views. CNN and radio host Michael Smerconish received similar complaints from viewers, as did bookstores featuring the book.

Many people are so upset with President TrumpDonald John TrumpFive takeaways from the Democratic debate As Buttigieg rises, Biden is still the target Leading Democrats largely pull punches at debate MORE, for understandable reasons, that they just do not want to hear a constitutional analysis that may help him avoid prosecution or impeachment. Many of the same people would agree with my constitutional arguments if I were making them on behalf of Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonAs Buttigieg rises, Biden is still the target Harris rips Gabbard over Fox appearances during Obama years Steyer, Gabbard and Yang shut out of early minutes of Democratic debate MORE, had she been elected and Republicans tried to prosecute or impeach her. Indeed, I made similar arguments on behalf of President Clinton during the Ken Starr investigation, and my Democratic friends loved my arguments, and loved me, for making them.

Yet, now that the shoe is on the other foot, everything is different. But not for me. I insist on making the same constitutional arguments regardless of who is president. This has led some of my vociferous critics to accuse me of complicity with evil. One professor has even compared me to German intellectuals who helped bring Hitler to power.

It is pure McCarthyism to equate support for the constitutional rights of a person, or even a president, to complicity in his policies. I oppose Trump’s policies on immigration, family separation, Charlottesville, gun control, taxation, and health care. I voted against him, contributed to his opponent, and campaigned for her. Yet, I am accused of being complicit in his policies because I defend his constitutional rights.

This is not the first time McCarthyite tactics have been deployed to try to stop me from defending the constitutional rights of those with whom I disagree. When I was a college student, I stood up for the rights of communists despite my strong opposition to communism. When I was interviewed by Salon, the writer went out of his way to thank me for defending his mother, who was a communist. Then, the right-wing McCarthyites accused me of complicity with communism. Today, the left-wing McCarthyites accuse me of complicity with fascism.

To make the point that I would have written the same book had Hillary Clinton been elected president, my publisher produced an alternate cover with the title “The Case Against Impeaching Clinton.” My publisher also happened to produce a special cover for Martha’s Vineyard, which is a plain brown paper cover with the real title in tiny print, so people could secretly read it in the beach without being accused of complicity.

All this may sound humorous or petty, especially when people on Martha’s Vineyard focus on parties or other social events, about which I could care less. They also focus on the fact that the New York Times has four stories about me in the space of a week, despite the reality that I did not ask for these stories, but rather just responded to requests from reporters.

Focusing on these petty aspects masks a much larger problem that efforts to silence me are a symptom of the dangerous time in which we live. These days, debate is being stifled on university campuses in the name of political correctness, a term coined by the Stalinist regime. Even the ACLU is now placing free speech and due process lower in its priorities than other partisan issues that earn the organization more contributions.

That is why, despite the attacks and efforts to silence me, I will continue to speak up on behalf of the democracy our Framers laid out and the civil liberties of all Americans in this country, including our president. As I argue in my book, “If a controversial president is denied constitutional protections, then any citizen can be denied constitutional protections. That is why this issue is so important to all Americans.”

That is why we should begin listening to each other, should welcome dissenting views, should demand that the marketplace of ideas be kept open, and should act with civility toward each other, even if we disagree.

Alan M. Dershowitz is the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law, Emeritus, at Harvard Law School. He is the author of “Trumped Up: How Criminalizing Politics is Dangerous to Democracy” and “The Case Against Impeaching Trump.” He is on Twitter @AlanDersh and Facebook @AlanMDershowitz.