web analytics
April 21, 2015 / 2 Iyar, 5775
At a Glance
News & Views
Sponsored Post


Former Israeli Chief Justice Looms Large At Kagan Hearings


NEW YORK – It was an unexpected development in an otherwise relatively mundane U.S. Supreme Court confirmation process. Failed Reagan nominee Robert Bork grabbed headlines last week when he spoke out against President Obama’s nomination of Elena Kagan to the high court. At the top of his complaint list: As dean of Harvard Law School, Kagan once referred to former Israeli Chief Justice Aharon Barak as her “judicial hero.”


Conservative bloggers quickly ran with Bork’s complaint, painting Barak as the prototypical liberal activist judge and insisting that Kagan’s praise of the Israeli justice was grounds for rejecting her nomination. By the weekend, a few Republican lawmakers were giving voice to the concerns, albeit in less absolute terms. Next, at least two GOP members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sens. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) and Jeffrey Sessions (R-Ala.), floated the issue in their opening statements on the first day of Kagan’s confirmation hearings.


And on Tuesday the issue took center stage, as U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) put the question directly to Kagan – who then unapologetically affirmed and explained her praise of Barak, saying it was rooted in her Jewishness and admiration for Israel.


“I am troubled by the fact that you hold up Barak as a judicial role model,” Grassley said. “He’s been described as creating a degree of judicial power undreamed of by most U.S. justices.”


Grassley quoted Barak as saying that “a judge has a role” in the lawmaking process, and asked Kagan if she agreed. Kagan responded that she did not, but also noted that Barak operated in a fundamentally different system – one without a written constitution.


“Justice Barak’s philosophy is so different from anything that we would use or would want to use in the United States,” she said.


Instead, Kagan added, she admired Barak for creating an independent judiciary in a young state surrounded by enemies.


“As you know, I don’t think it’s a secret I am Jewish,” Kagan said. “The State of Israel has meant a lot to me and my family. And – and I admire Justice Barak for what he’s done for the State of Israel and ensuring an independent judiciary.”


Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the committee chairman, exercised the rarely used prerogative of rebutting Grassley, quoting conservative judges who have praised Barak.


In Israel, Barak has been subject to criticism from the left and the right, both for his expansive notion of judicial powers in upholding democratic values and for deferring to national security considerations in a number of cases involving Palestinians.


“It’s typical of young lawyers going into constitutional law that they have inflated dreams of what constitutional law can do, what courts can do,” Bork said during a June 23 conference call organized by the anti-abortion group Americans United for Life in an effort to rally opposition to Kagan in the U.S. Senate.


“That usually wears off as time passes and they get experience. But Ms. Kagan has not had time to develop a mature philosophy of judging. I would say her admiration for Barak, the Israeli justice, is a prime example. As I’ve said before, Barak might be the least competent judge on the planet.”


Following Bork’s comments, liberals in the United States rushed to defend Barak and Kagan by noting that the Israeli justice has received praise as well from judicial conservatives, most notably U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. A darling of conservatives, Scalia glowingly introduced Barak in March 2007 when he was honored by the American Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists (with the Supreme Court’s two Jewish members, Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in the audience).


In its report on the introduction, the Forward paraphrased Scalia as saying that “no other living jurist has had a greater impact on his own country’s legal system – and perhaps on legal systems throughout the world.” According to the report, Scalia went on “to celebrate his fruitful and long-standing relationship with the Israeli judge, and to affirm a profound respect for the man – one that trumped their fundamental philosophical, legal and constitutional disagreements.”


Told of Scalia’s remarks, Bork dismissed them as sounding “like politeness offered on a formal occasion.”


In an e-mail to JTA, David Twersky, a veteran journalist and analyst for Jewish organizations, recalled that at a New York Sun editorial dinner at the Harvard Club he asked Scalia about Barak.


“To my great surprise, he had nothing but good things to say and said he would never second-guess Barak,” Twersky said. “So I can tell you from personal experience that Bork is wrong.”


Twersky recalled Scalia as saying, “I mean they don’t even have a constitution over there.”


The Israel-lacks-a-constitution theme has been echoed in recent days by Barak’s defenders, who argue that the different legal traditions in Israel and the United States make it difficult to read too much into Kagan’s praise of Barak.

(JTA)

(JTA’s Washington Bureau Chief Ron Kampeas contributed to this report.)

About the Author: Ami Eden is editor in chief of JTA.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Former Israeli Chief Justice Looms Large At Kagan Hearings”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Rav Aharon Lichtenstein
Republished: My Rebbe Rav Aharon Lichtenstein Is Awarded the Israel Prize 2014
Latest News Stories
Amb. Thomas Pickering testified before the  House Armed Services Committee,  about Iran's nuclear program on June 19, 2014.

Forget about Israel, doesn’t Brandeis care about Iran’s abysmal human rights record?

The aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt is steaming towards the Yemeni coast to intercept Iranian ships believed to be supplying the Houthi rebels. April 20, 2015.

As Iran may be re-supplying the Houthis, US warships steam towards Yemen.

A Jewish man with a Russian accent stabbed an Arab worker Monday in Herzliya, next to Tel Aviv, while yelling “Death to Arabs,” police said. The attacker confessed that he intentionally targeted an Arab. The victim suffered light wounds in his shoulder, was treated on the scene and hospitalized. The assailant is a resident of […]

Russian S-300 surface-to-air missile systems deployed in a military exercise.

if Iran tries to move a Russian s-300 antimissile system to Syria or Hezbollah in Lebanon, Israel will make sure it doesn’t get there.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his sorrow over the passing of Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein Monday. “Rabbi Lichtenstein’s knowledge found expression in his literary works. He served generations of students,” said the Prime Minister. He added, “When I gave him the Israel Prize a year ago, I saw before my eyes a great rabbi, teacher and […]

“Sexual violence in conflict has become a weapon of choice because it is cheap, silent and effective.”

Saudi Arabia has posted an alert of a possible terror attack on Aramco’s oil facilities and malls in the capital of Riyadh, Bloomberg News reported Monday morning. “We have informed security forces to be on alert and to take any necessary security procedures [against] a possible terrorist attack attempt,” spokesman General Mansour al-Turki told the […]

President Reuven Rivlin granted Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu two more weeks Monday morning to form a new government coalition after negotiations with different t parties have not produced a positive result. Rivlin really had no other choice. He would like to see a national unity government with the Likud and the Zionist Union, the euphemism […]

He followed and spread the teachings of his late father-in-law, Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik.

An Egyptian court has sentenced an Egyptian man and two Israeli citizens to life in prison for allegedly spying for Israel. The Israeli citizens were sentenced in absentia, and are unlikely to travel to Egypt to serve their sentences. The Egyptian man, Salama Muhammed Saliman, was convicted of giving the two Israelis information regarding both […]

Netanyahu met with children of parents who lost their lives in service to the State of Israel.

Bennett drew his red line on Twitter, but don’t worry. There is a Jewish solution.

Former chief Rome Rabbi Elio Toaff died on Sunday the age of 99, two weeks before what was supposed to be his 100th birthday. He served as chief rabbi of the city for 51 years until 2002 after having served as the chief rabbi of Venice. Rabbi Toaf once prayed with Pope John Paul II, […]

The Egyptian army has destroyed 185 smuggling and terror tunnels under the border between Egypt and Gaza since February, according to the country’s military spokesman. Sixty-nine of them were destroyed in the past three weeks. One of them was more than a mile long and 10 feet deep and was used for smuggling weapons and […]

Israeli workers making a flags of Israel at the Berman’s Flags and Embroidery factory in Jerusalem on April 19, 2015, prior to the Israel 67th Independence day.

More Articles from Ami Eden
Jackie Robinson.

Robinson witnessed the valuable contributions that Jews were making to the black community’s struggle.

NEW YORK – It was an unexpected development in an otherwise relatively mundane U.S. Supreme Court confirmation process. Failed Reagan nominee Robert Bork grabbed headlines last week when he spoke out against President Obama’s nomination of Elena Kagan to the high court. At the top of his complaint list: As dean of Harvard Law School, Kagan once referred to former Israeli Chief Justice Aharon Barak as her “judicial hero.”

NEW YORK – It was an unexpected development in an otherwise relatively mundane U.S. Supreme Court confirmation process. Failed Reagan nominee Robert Bork grabbed headlines last week when he spoke out against President Obama’s nomination of Elena Kagan to the high court. At the top of his complaint list: As dean of Harvard Law School, Kagan once referred to former Israeli Chief Justice Aharon Barak as her “judicial hero.”

In response to the Obama administration’s stepped-up criticism of Israeli building plans in Jerusalem, Jewish groups are slamming the White House for failing to speak out more against Palestinian incitement.

In response to the Obama administration’s stepped-up criticism of Israeli building plans in Jerusalem, Jewish groups are slamming the White House for failing to speak out more against Palestinian incitement.

Forget 2012, Sarah Palin must think she’s headed to the White House even sooner.

Forget 2012, Sarah Palin must think she’s headed to the White House even sooner.

The arrival of the new millennium proved to be a false alarm for computer users. But, it turned out, the switchover from the ‘90s to the ‘00s did unleash the J2K virus.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/former-israeli-chief-justice-looms-large-at-kagan-hearings-2/2010/06/30/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: