Dershowitz: Ted Cruz one of Harvard Law’s smartest students

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Famed Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz ranks Sen. Ted Cruz among the school’s smartest students, adding that the Canada-born Texan can run for president in 2016.

Cruz was a “terrific student,” Dershowitz told The Daily Caller. “He was always very active in class, presenting a libertarian point of view. He didn’t strike me as a social conservative, more of a libertarian.”

“He had brilliant insights and he was clearly among the top students, as revealed by his class responses,” Dershowitz added.

Dershowitz also gave a high estimate of Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren — who has decidedly different political views than Cruz.

Dershowitz says he and Cruz would often debate issues presented in Dershowitz’s criminal law class. “Cruz’s views were always thoughtful and his responses were interesting,” the law professor explained. “I obviously disagreed with them and we had good arguments in class. I would challenge him and he would come up with very good responses.”

Cruz’s “career has not surprised me. I thought he would go on to accomplish important things.”

“His movement toward social conservatism has surprised me a little bit,” Dershowitz added, but “people will change and perhaps when you are at Harvard Law School you are less likely to espouse a socially conservative point of view.”

Cruz “was an outstanding student in my class,” Dershowitz said. “Without a doubt he is among the smartest students I’ve ever had… I’ve had great students but he has to be at the top of anyone’s short list, in terms of raw brain power.”

Dershowitz places Cruz alongside Warren among the Senate’s smartest members.

“Their election raised the IQ level of the Senate discernibly. The two of them have to be among the smartest senators now,” Dershowitz said.

Dershowitz and Cruz stayed in touch when Cruz was a law clerk for Justice William Rehnquist and then Texas solicitor general. Dershowitz called Cruz and wished him well when he ran for U.S. Senate.

Does Dershowitz think Cruz should run for president?

“The question is whether he can,” Dershowitz said. “I think he can. I think he’s a natural-born citizen and therefore he’s eligible to run. There will be challenges, perhaps, to his eligibility.”

But Dershowitz doesn’t think that his old student would win the 2016 GOP nomination.

“I don’t think he’ll get the nomination when you think about Rubio and posturing himself a little more to the center on immigration,” Dershowitz said. “Cruz won’t run in 2016 and that he’ll wait. Just a prediction. He would probably establish himself first before he ran.”

“Everyone is following the Obama model” of serving a few years in the U.S. Senate and then running for president, Dershowitz said.

(Full disclosure: Charles Johnson served as a research assistant to Alan Dershowitz on several books and cases and Senator Ted Cruz has written on his book, Why Coolidge Matters: Leadership Lessons From America’s Most Underrated President.)