Alan Dershowitz has been involved with so many high-profile cases, and has written persuasively about so many issues, that it is sometimes hard to remember that he is at heart a legal scholar. He was the youngest professor ever to be given tenure at Harvard Law School. For decades he has been a champion of civil liberties, often at the forefront of the most important legal debates and trials of his time.
With Shouting Fire, Dershowitz returns to what he knows best and cares about most: rights-human rights, civil rights, and constitutional rights. In the introduction to this readable and accessible book, he poses the intriguing question, Where do rights come from? Rejecting the traditional answers-God, nature, and positive law-Dershowitz offers a new and wholly original source of and justification for rights. He shows how rights come from wrongs, how our long experience with human injustice provides the essential building blocks for a theory of justice and rights. He then illustrates and amplifies his approach with a personal selection of his best and most provocative writings on rights and justice. Shouting Fire covers a vast spectrum of civil liberties issues-everything from the right to choice to the separation between church and state to the Holocaust and its long shadows. The essays included here summarize Dershowitz’s life’s work, encapsulating nearly forty years’ worth of pioneering rights battles. But also here, for the first time, is Dershowitz’s surprising and brilliantly creative philosophy of rights, an innovative approach developed over the course of his career. Dershowitz summons the lessons of a lifetime in law in weaving together a theory of civil liberties perfectly attuned to the complex issues of our constantly evolving democracy.