On Law

Jewish World Review March 3, 1999 / 15 Adar, 5759

The Dersh
The Dersh does it again

By Matthew Brooks and Seth Leibsohn

"JUSTICE, JUSTICE SHALL YOU SEEK" is the biblical admonition that adorns many Jewish lawyers' walls. Indeed, the Jewish legal tradition in America has a long honored history, perhaps starting with the role models of Louis Marshall, Louis Brandeis, Benjamin Cardozo, and Felix Frankfurter.

All these giants of American law were deeply influenced by both their religious roots and their commitment to American jurisprudence.

Principles of universal justice and equality coursed through their veins. It is their shoulders this generation of Jews stands upon in seeking and working for justice and equality. Perhaps one can excuse, then, Alan Dershowitz's zeal when he charged that Representative Bob Barr of Georgia was a racist for using the term "real Americans" at a Congressional impeachment hearing although he found no fault with Bill or Hillary Clinton for their use of the same exact phrase.

But, now, Alan Dershowitz has shown his true colors, his true hypocrisy.

Alan Dershowitz, a professor of law at Harvard University, a noted author, and at one time chief counsel to the AJC, used to be very conscious of Jewish and minority rights in this country. Dershowitz brooked no tolerance for racism and antisemitism and used his legal skills to fight both. Now we see that he is only willing to attack, as allegedly racist, those who represent the Republican Party but will actively -- when the CSPAN cameras are not rolling -- defend an open racist and antisemite like Matthew Hale. Perhaps de La Rochefoucaul had it right when he said "Hypocrisy is the homage vice pays to virtue."

Dershowitz's vice for publicity can be the only logical explanation for his taking up the cause and case of Matthew Hale. Matthew Hale is a twenty-seven-year-old graduate of the Southern Illinois University Law School who recently passed the state bar examination.

However, the Illinois Bar's character and fitness committee found Matthew Hale unworthy of their endorsement and refused to grant Hale membership in the state bar. Hale heads the World Church of the Creator, a white-supremacist organization, dedicated to the principles that were defeated on the battlefields in Europe during World War II.

According to his website and the New York Times, Hale believes Adolph Hitler got one thing wrong though: he should have promoted the supremacy of all whites, not just Germans. Hale's office has an Israeli flag as a doormat and his wallpaper consists of swastikas. His organization boasts sixteen commandments, the third of which is "Remember that the inferior mud races are our deadly enemies, and the most dangerous of all is the Jewish race. It is our immediate objective to relentlessly expand the White Race, and keep shrinking our enemies."

The Illinois State Bar should be commended for standing up for some principles in whom it admits to practice in its state. Their message to Hale was simply, as a lawyer one must swear to uphold the federal and state constitutions. The Illinois Bar got it right when it wrote "If the civilized world had no experience with Hitler, Matthew Hale might be dismissed as a harmless crackpot. However, history teaches a different lesson." Our federal and state constitutions have, by blood and ink, been reworked over many years to take account of this history and encompass the color-blind principle etched atop the United States Supreme Court: "Equal Justice Under Law."

The law is the last redoubt against discrimination in this country and one who admires Adolph Hitler, believes in segregation, runs a several thousand member organization and website dedicated to Nazi principles and segregation has no place in the legal profession. As Matthew Hale should know, the Illinois Bar requires that no lawyer engage in "adverse discriminatory treatment of litigants, jurors, witnesses, lawyers, and others, based on race, sex, religion, or national origin." Just a brief glance at Hale's website will reveal that he has nothing but contempt for every value in the preceding prohibition.

Shame on Alan Dershowitz for counseling and representing such a blatant and unabashed racist.. After all, it was through the celebrated legal profession that Jews and African Americans, along with all minorities, found their ultimate redress against bigotry. It was through that profession that the United States could rededicate itself to the high principles its Constitution and Declaration of Independence speak of.

"Justice, justice shall you seek" speaks of two justices, the ends of justice and the means of justice. Neither are served by white-supremacist lawyers. Hale's ends are an all-white country and his means can, at best, be open to serious question and continuing doubt. Marshall, Brandeis, Cardozo, and Frankfurter would have no truck with an activist bigot like Matthew Hale and Alan Dershowitz should know better than to lend his Jewish voice and professional skill to Hale's racist megaphone.

The worst form of shame, we were taught by Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, was having none. Alan Dershowitz should be ashamed of any affiliation with Hale whatsoever.

The legal community and the Jewish community deserve at least that much.

Matthew Brooks is the Executive Director of the Jewish Policy Center, a think tank based in Washington, DC. Seth Leibsohn is the Center's Director of Policy.


©1999, Jewish Policy Center