Alan Dershowitz Clashes With Laura Ingraham on COVID After Smallpox Remarks

Fox News host Laura Ingraham clashed with Alan Dershowitz on Thursday when the veteran attorney suggested the long-term effects of COVID-19 could be worse than smallpox.

Dershowitz, an emeritus professor at Harvard Law School whose background is in constitutional law, told Ingraham the Supreme Court could uphold a "gradual" vaccine mandate.

The Fox News commentator strongly disagreed with Dershowitz, arguing that COVID-19 was not as dangerous as smallpox—an infectious disease that killed many millions of people before it was eradicated. However, he told Ingraham that he believed COVID could be worse.

Dershowitz told Ingraham: "As far as mandating vaccination, I think the Supreme Court would uphold gradual mandating of vaccinations.

"That is, first, conditioning going to school on getting vaccinated, conditioning getting on airplanes, conditioning going to crowded buildings.

"Ultimately, if it became absolutely necessary, they would quote George Washington in the middle of the Revolutionary War, who mandated vaccination against smallpox for his troops."

Ingraham responded: "Are you saying that COVID-19 [...] I disagree with this analysis. COVID-19 is not smallpox. I don't think you have to overrule the Jacobson case, you can distinguish the Jacobson case on the basis of the data, mortality, how infectious this is, how many people it kills. This is not smallpox. This is not … it's not a fully approved vaccine, either."

She was referring to a 1905 lawsuit, Jacobson v. Massachusetts, in which the Supreme Court upheld the authority of states to enforce laws on compulsory vaccination. The smallpox vaccination was the subject of Jacobson's suit.

Alan Dershowitz, hitting back against Laura's anti-vax take of the night: "I think Covid is worse than smallpox."

And it just went downhill from there. pic.twitter.com/4N4jzWdgCZ

— Kat Abu (@abughazalehkat) July 30, 2021

Dershowitz responded to Ingraham's comment about the COVID-19 vaccine not being "fully approved," saying: "Neither was the smallpox vaccine in 1905. No, I think COVID is worse than smallpox in many ways.

"It may not kill as many people but we don't know what the long-term impact is."

Before he could continue, Ingraham cut in to say that smallpox had killed 300 million people worldwide. That is one estimate for the number of smallpox deaths in the 20th century, before the disease was eradicated worldwide in the 1970s.

"I know," Dershowitz said. "I have the right to get on an airplane and know that everybody on that airplane has been vaccinated or tested. You may have the right not to get vaccinated, but you have no right to spread the disease to me even if you won't kill me. Even if you won't kill me, I don't want long-term effects."

"Professor, have you not been listening?" Ingraham said, smiling. "This is Harvard Law School, OK. I didn't go to Harvard Law School but I did hear the president today talk about how, if you're vaccinated, you [can still] spread the virus. You still can spread the virus."

"It'll be spread much less seriously," Dershowitz said. "Look, we don't know what we don't know. Nobody should speak with absolute certainty…"

Ingraham said: "OK, you can deprive people of their constitutional rights on the basis of a vaccine that still allows the spread of a virus."

Dershowitz replied: "There is no constitutional right to get on an airplane and to spread the disease to me even if it's not gonna be fatal.

"I have constitutional rights, you have constitutional rights and the court's gotta balance it."

Ingraham then ended the conversation, saying they were "up against a hard break," but added: "It's not smallpox."

Dershowitz issued a statement to Newsweek on Friday about comparing COVID to smallpox.

"COVID is potentially more dangerous than smallpox because of the unpredictability of highly contagious variants," he said.

"Once a smallpox vaccine was perfected, it wiped out smallpox throughout most of the world. In light of highly contagious variants, that positive result is unlikely for COVID and its variants.

"There is still much we don't know about the long-term effects of COVID and its variants and we should continue to take all reasonable steps to encourage maximum vaccinations and other preventive measures," he said.

Newsweek has contacted Fox News for comment.

Alan Dershowitz Speaks to the Press
Attorney Alan Dershowitz, a member of Donald Trump's legal team, speaks to the press during the Senate impeachment trial at the U.S. Capitol on January 29, 2020. Dershowitz clashed with Fox News' Laura Ingraham on Thursday about COVID-19 vaccines. Mario Tama/Getty Images