Praise for an Israeli Judge Drives Criticism of Kagan


aharon-barakThe following report by Sheryl Gay Stolberg appears in today’s New York Times:

Most Americans have never heard of Aharon Barak. If they tune in to Elena Kagan’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings, they will.

Judge Barak, the retired president of the Supreme Court of Israel, has advocated an expansive role for the judiciary in his home country. But in this country, he has emerged over the past few days as a kind of liberal judicial villain for Republicans and conservatives, who are trying to turn Ms. Kagan’s praise for him against her.

In 2006, while dean of Harvard Law School, Ms. Kagan introduced Judge Barak during an award ceremony as “my judicial hero.” She added, “He is the judge or justice in my lifetime whom, I think, best represents and has best advanced the values of democracy and human rights, of the rule of law and of justice.”

The White House says Ms. Kagan was simply welcoming back a former student; Judge Barak studied at Harvard in the 1960s. But Ms. Kagan’s opponents have rolled out Judge Barak – “the other Barack,” some call him, in reference to President Obama – as Exhibit A in the case against her.

Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, on Thursday called Ms. Kagan’s introduction “very troubling” and suggested it “might provide real insight into her approach to the law.”

On Wednesday, Judge Robert Bork, whose own Supreme Court nomination in 1987 resulted in a Senate vote against confirmation, said Judge Barak “may be the worst judge on the planet, the most activist,” and argued that Ms. Kagan’s admiration for him is “disqualifying in and of itself.”

Hogwash, say Ms. Kagan’s backers, noting that Judge Barak has also drawn praise from American conservatives, including Justice Antonin Scalia of the Supreme Court, who introduced Judge Barak at an award ceremony in 2007. The Jewish Daily Forward reported that Justice Scalia described Judge Barak as a “judicial pioneer” and said he has “profound respect for the man.”

Even some of Judge Barak’s critics have jumped in. “Can’t Judge Bork and the rest of Kagan’s opponents find something else – and less bizarre – to attack her with?” asked the Orthodox Union’s Institute of Public Affairs.

Israel does not have a formal constitution, but Judge Barak has written that a series of “basic laws” adopted by the Knesset essentially functions as one, and has asserted that courts have authority to determine whether future laws violate these basic laws. He is also an ardent champion of civil liberties; during the Persian Gulf war of 1991, he insisted the Israeli government hand out gas masks to Arabs in Israel-occupied territories.

Aitan Goelman, a Washington lawyer who clerked for Judge Barak, compares him to two American chief justices: John Marshall, who established the principle of judicial review in the landmark 1803 case of Marbury v. Madison, and Earl Warren, who expanded the rights of criminal defendants.

“He’s like the Israeli John Marshall and Earl Warren wrapped into one,” Mr. Goelman said.

{NY Times}

{ Newscenter}


  1. This Barack bum was one of the worst Judges, Israel ever had! The whole Israely “court” system is a joke, at best. Their kangaroo court system is corrupt through & through. It is the laughing stock of the world.

  2. Remember back when he wrote that the Israeli Judicial System is a function of a civilized society, and exists for civilized people; Chareidim therefore, not being civilized, have no standing under Israeli law. Yeah, a real charmer, this one!

  3. Barak singlehandedly ruined the Israeli Justice System.If Ms Kagan follows in his steps, she will destroy the US justice system.

    Rubashkin anyone????

  4. Great. Obama destroyed the Executive Branch, she will get to the Judicial Branch. Any volunteers for destroying the Legislative Branch of the government? Then we can become the Socialist Republic of America or something like that.

  5. It is urgent that we well publicize throughout the publications and the Internet web sites of the Torah world that numerous American conservative groups are SEVERELY CONCERNED about the proposed new justice for the US Supreme Court, Miss. Elana Kagen.

    A few weeks ago, the Yated published an article about the her. The article related in detail how Miss. Kagen has very little actual judicial experience, and thus, very little is known about her views and opinions and methods of judging. Since so very little is known about her, there could easily be an understandable tendancy to assume that everything is OK with her and give her approval.

    The truth though is that in the limited available texts of statements and opinions of Miss. Kagen, there are already numerous indications that she is a rabid leftist with some pretty dangerous plans.

    She is strongly for Toeiva “rights.”

    She is strongly for abortion “rights.”

    She belives that the government has the power to greatly limit people’s freedom of speech.

    For detail, see (for example) the well written documented essay with several quotes from her own writings at: