Although President Trump's suspension of immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries is bad policy, it could still pass muster in the courts as constitutional, according to author, civil libertarian, and Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz.
"I think there's an enormous difference between disapproving of policy — which I disapprove of — and concluding it is unconstitutional, which I think is a much harder question," the long-time Harvard University law professor told Newsmax in an exclusive interview Monday afternoon.
Dershowitz added: "Whether this is unconstitutional is not a simple question, particularly as it applies to people who currently have no connection to the United States — that is, somebody who is not a green-card holder — who is just seeking a visa to come visit the United States. It may well be constitutional in regard to any such people, even though it sounds to me like a dangerous or bad policy."
Dershowitz was sharply critical of the presidential executive order that has already triggered several lawsuits.
"It was badly executed, overbroad, and just not consistent with the best values of what America should be like," he said, adding: "I think the whole thing was rolled out very poorly. They apparently never really checked with the lawyers. It could have been crafted in a way that made constitutional challenges more difficult. So, I think the roll out was very unfortunate."
As for criticisms the temporary ban might actually impede the war on terror, Dershowitz told Newsmax that argument is "a little ideologically rooted and perhaps overstated."
Extremists in the Middle East already hate America for its democratic principles, he said, and do not need additional motivation to attack Americans.
Other U.S. presidents have issued orders restricting immigration, of course. Dershowitz predicted the courts will probably strike down some aspects of Trump's order, while keeping other elements intact.
"To the extent that it makes decisions purely on religion," he said, "it runs afoul of the First Amendment. To the extent it's based on prior connections to the United States, it's more likely to be sustained."
Former President Obama issued a statement Monday he "is heartened by the level of engagement taking place in communities around the country."
The remark was widely interpreted as encouraging the recent demonstrations.
While acknowledging the former president "feels very strongly about this," Dershowitz expressed less enthusiasm for the protests.
"I'm worried about the demonstrations, because it brings together people with good values, and people with not such good values," he said. "Some of the people who are in the demonstrations would not demonstrate if it was "anti' another group."
"They're not principled opponents of this type of thing," he said. "Some people are being very selective. I can't imagine CAIR demonstrating if the people being kept out were Jews or Christians or atheists. So, you have to be careful of the company you keep when it comes to demonstrations. There's some bad company out there."
Dershowitz also reacted to the Trump administration failing to specifically mention Jewish people in its Holocaust Remembrance Day.
The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) acknowledged Trump has been "a great friend and supporter of America's greatest ally, the Jewish State of Israel."
But ZOA President Morton A. Klein, said the omission had caused "deep pain."
Dershowitz remarked: "I do think the Holocaust was different from all other genocides. It's the only genocide in history where people were brought in from far-flung corners of the world just to kill them because they were Jews. And I think to lump together all killings of individuals is a serious moral and historical mistake."
"So, I think the Trump administration made a serious mistake by not specifically focusing on Jews, particularly on Holocaust Memorial Day," he said.
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