Alert students of the higher reaches of the intellectual sphere will have seen the distressing stories about the distinguished Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz. It seems that Professor Dershowitz, who summers on Martha’s Vineyard, has been shunned lately by the elite inhabitants of that storied vacation retreat who, because of his defense of President Trump, have stopped inviting him to their dinner parties. Dershowitz, exhibiting admirable restraint, has compared this behavior to McCarthyism. But I think a more substantive legal argument can be advanced.
It is of course second nature to a famous constitutional law expert like Dershowitz that the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution “prohibits the federal government from imposing excessive bail, excessive fines, or cruel and unusual punishments.” What is more, the Supreme Court has ruled that the “cruel and unusual punishments” clause applies to the states as well. It is beyond dispute that banishment from a Martha’s Vineyard dinner party is cruel and unusual, and it is surely a very small reach indeed to extend the constitutional prohibition from states to vacation resorts.
I am no scholar of the law, but I think Professor Dershowitz has a legitimate cause of action. Inasmuch as such suits can be costly, and Dershowitz, as an emeritus Harvard professor, is compelled to live on whatever pension that financially strapped institution provides, I propose that all fair-minded defenders of the rule of law launch a gofundme effort. I am prepared to commit a penny to the effort, and if one hundred million good Americans will join me, Professor Dershowitz will have the beginnings of a defense fund.
I mean, fair is fair.