Dershowitz on Rehnquist

JFN jfnbl at
Thu Sep 8 14:56:54 PDT 2005

So Rehnquist was first in his class because Stanford discriminated 
against Jews, and he outraged Jewish classmates because, I guess, the 
university discriminated most particularly against the Jewish 
students that would otherwise have out-ranked him.

Rehnquist "smeared" Justice Jackson by claiming that his defense of 
Plessy reflected the views of the man who wrote: "Convenient as it 
would be to reach an opposite conclusion, I simply cannot find in the 
conventional material of constitutional interpretation any 
justification for saying that in maintaining segregated schools any 
state or the District of Columbia can be judicially decreed, up to 
the date of this decision, to have violated the Fourteenth Amendment."

"Even if he did not personally harass potential voters," he was a 
"Republican thug." That's pretty loosely defined from the point of 
view of a former Democratic thug who did precinct work in Chicago and 
thought that even real Republican thugs were pretty lame.

And he bought property that was subject to a restrictive covenant. So 
did Peris Joyner: "For Peris Joyner, who is black, the painful 
language was like a punch in the gut when a neighbor first showed it 
to him 18 or so years ago." Homeowners Find Records Still Hold Blot 
of Racism, By Lornet Turnbull, Seattle Times staff reporter (June 3, 

>Yet no opinion comes to mind which will be remembered as brilliant, 
>innovative, or memorable.

As long as Prof. Dershowitz is his own gold standard, no one else 
will ever be brilliant, innovative, or memorable.

>My mother would want me to remain silent, but I think my father 
>would have wanted me to tell the truth. >My father was right.

I'm with his mother.

John Noble

At 8:56 AM -0700 9/8/05, Myron Moskovitz wrote:
>  Alan Dershowitz
>   Mon Sep 5, 1:16 AM ET
>   My mother always told me that when a person
>dies, one should not say anything bad about him.
>My mother was wrong. History requires truth, not
>puffery or silence, especially about powerful
>governmental figures. And obituaries are a first
>draft of history. So here's the truth about Chief
>Justice Rehnquist you won't hear on Fox News or
>from politicians. Chief Justice William Rehnquist
>set back liberty, equality, and human rights
>perhaps more than any American judge of this
>generation. His rise to power speaks volumes
>about the current state of American values.
>   Let's begin at the beginning. Rehnquist bragged
>about being first in his class at Stanford Law
>School. Today Stanford is a great law school with
>a diverse student body, but in the late 1940s and
>early 1950s, it discriminated against Jews and
>other minorities, both in the admission of
>students and in the selection of faculty. Justice
>Stephen Breyer recalled an earlier period of
>Stanford's history: "When my father was at
>Stanford, he could not join any of the social
>organizations because he was Jewish, and those
>organizations, at that time, did not accept
>Jews." Rehnquist not only benefited in his class
>ranking from this discrimination; he was also
>part of that bigotry. When he was nominated to be
>an associate justice in 1971, I learned from
>several sources who had known him as a student
>that he had outraged Jewish classmates by
>goose-stepping and heil-Hitlering with
>brown-shirted friends in front of a dormitory
>that housed the school's few Jewish students. He
>also was infamous for telling racist and
>anti-Semitic jokes.
>   As a law clerk, Rehnquist wrote a memorandum for
>Justice Jackson while the court was considering
>several school desegregation cases, including
>Brown v. Board of Education. Rehnquist's memo,
>entitled "A Random Thought on the Segregation
>Cases," defended the separate-but-equal doctrine
>embodied in the 1896 Supreme Court case of Plessy
>v. Ferguson. Rehnquist concluded the Plessy "was
>right and should be reaffirmed." When questioned
>about the memos by the Senate Judiciary Committee
>in both 1971 and 1986, Rehnquist blamed his
>defense of segregation on the dead Justice,
>stating - under oath - that his memo was meant to
>reflect the views of Justice Jackson. But Justice
>Jackson voted in Brown, along with a unanimous
>Court, to strike down school segregation.
>According to historian Mark Tushnet, Justice
>Jackson's longtime legal secretary called
>Rehnquist's Senate testimony an attempt to
>"smear[] the reputation of a great justice."
>Rehnquist later admitted to defending Plessy in
>arguments with fellow law clerks. He did not
>acknowledge that he committed perjury in front of
>the Judiciary Committee to get his job.
>   The young Rehnquist began his legal career as a
>Republican functionary by obstructing
>African-American and Hispanic voting at Phoenix
>polling locations ("Operation Eagle Eye"). As
>Richard Cohen of The Washington Post wrote, "[H]e
>helped challenge the voting qualifications of
>Arizona blacks and Hispanics. He was entitled to
>do so. But even if he did not personally harass
>potential voters, as witnesses allege, he clearly
>was a brass-knuckle partisan, someone who would
>deny the ballot to fellow citizens for trivial
>political reasons -- and who made his selection
>on the basis of race or ethnicity." In a word, he
>started out his political career as a Republican
>   Rehnquist later bought a home in Vermont with a
>restrictive covenant that barred sale of the
>property to ''any member of the Hebrew race."
>   Rehnquist's judicial philosophy was
>result-oriented, activist, and authoritarian. He
>sometimes moderated his views for prudential or
>pragmatic reasons, but his vote could almost
>always be predicted based on who the parties
>were, not what the legal issues happened to be.
>He generally opposed the rights of gays, women,
>blacks, aliens, and religious minorities. He was
>a friend of corporations, polluters, right wing
>Republicans, religious fundamentalists,
>homophobes, and other bigots.
>   Rehnquist served on the Supreme Court for
>thirty-three years and as chief justice for
>nineteen. Yet no opinion comes to mind which will
>be remembered as brilliant, innovative, or
>memorable. He will be remembered not for the
>quality of his opinions but rather for the
>outcomes decided by his votes, especially Bush v.
>Gore, in which he accepted an Equal Protection
>claim that was totally inconsistent with his
>prior views on that clause. He will also be
>remembered as a Chief Justice who fought for the
>independence and authority of the judiciary. This
>is his only positive contribution to an otherwise
>regressive career.
>   Within moments of Rehnquist's death, Fox News
>called and asked for my comments, presumably
>aware that I was a longtime critic of the late
>Chief Justice. After making several of these
>points to Alan Colmes (who was supposed to be
>interviewing me), Sean Hannity intruded, and when
>he didn't like my answers, he cut me off and
>terminated the interview. Only after I was off
>the air and could not respond did the attack
>against me begin, which is typical of Hannity's
>bullying ambush style. He is afraid to attack
>when there's someone there to respond. Since the
>interview, I've received dozens of e-mail hate
>messages, some of which are overtly anti-Semitic.
>One writer called me "a jew prick that takes it
>in the a** from ruth ginzburg [sic]." Another
>said I am "an ignorant socialist left-wing
>political hack *. You're like a little Heinrich
>Himmler! (even the resemblance is uncanny!)." Yet
>another informed me that I "personally make us
>all lament the defeat of the Nazis!" A more
>restrained viewer found me to be "a disgrace to
>the Law, to Harvard, and to humanity."
>   All this, for refusing to put a deceptive gloss
>on a man who made his career undermining the
>rights and liberties of American citizens.
>   My mother would want me to remain silent, but I
>think my father would have wanted me to tell the
>truth. My father was right.
>   Alan Dershowitz is a professor of law at
>Harvard. His latest book is The Case for Peace:
>How the Arab-Israeli Conflict Can Be Resolved
>(Wiley, 2005).
>To post, send message to Conlawprof at
>To subscribe, unsubscribe, change options, or get password, see 
>Please note that messages sent to this large list cannot be viewed 
>as private.  Anyone can subscribe to the list and read messages that 
>are posted; people can read the Web archives; and list members can 
>(rightly or wrongly) forward the messages to others.
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...

More information about the Conlawprof mailing list