Of course, the tribute had some contentious moments.

Joel B. Pollak of Breitbart reports.

Harvard Pays Tribute to Alan Dershowitz

On Monday, Harvard Law School hosted a celebration of Prof. Alan Dershowitz’s fifty years of teaching with an entire afternoon of panel discussions featuring legal scholars, past students, and colleagues in the academy and the law. It was a moving tribute to a man who has earned a unique place in history–not just at Harvard, not just in the law, but also in broader American society and in the long history of the Jewish people.

The celebration kicked off with a panel on scholarship, and featured not one but two past presidents of the Supreme Court of Israel, Aharon Barak and Dorit Beinisch. The first word went to Barak, who started by praising Dershowitz’s extraordinary capacity for friendship, shown to him when Barak was a lonely Israeli on campus in the 1960s. He then ripped into Dershowitz’s controversial theories on judicial approval of torture.

Dershowitz’s argument–made in order to prevent torture, a point his detractors often ignore–was that since the government uses torture anyway, it is better for it to be constrained by “torture warrants” that would have to be approved by the judiciary. Barak disagreed, and said that the judiciary could not stop torture by condoning it, but rather that the moral burden of torture had to be “a personal decision of a human being.”

Though disagreeing, Barak noted that Dershowitz had anticipated the torture debate long before 9/11, partly by studying Israel’s experience–and that both the U.S. and Israel had benefited from his insights. Next, Beinisch picked up where Barak had left off, praising Dershowitz’s warmth and then launching into a refutation of his ideas about the exclusionary rule, which protects defendants from improperly obtained evidence.