Why is an Israeli judge Elena Kagan’s ‘judicial hero’?

Not much is known about Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan’s views, so her praise four years ago for Israeli Chief Justice Aharon Barak have Republicans worried she will emulate his judicial activism.

Source: CSMonitor, 6-30-10

Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan takes her seat on Capitol Hill in Washington on Tuesday, during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Not much is known about Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan’s views, so her praise four years ago for Israel’s Supreme Court Chief Justice Aharon Barak has taken on unusual significance in the high-stakes nomination process.

Ms. Kagan reportedly called Mr. Barak a “judicial hero” who has “best advanced the values of democracy.” Sen. Jeff Sessions (R) of Alabama last week called the remarks “very troubling” and warned it might provide “real insight into her view of the law.”

Senator Sessions questioned whether Kagan would emulate Mr. Barak’s judicial activism.

Indeed, Barak, 73, is internationally renowned for pushing human rights in an insecure democracy, insisting on the primacy of secular jurisprudence despite the veneration of Jewish religious law, and for strengthening the court’s check on the other branches of government. At home, he is regarded as the most influential justice in Israel’s 62-year history and a figure who has revolutionized the high court’s standing.

But he is also a controversial figure in Israel. Though he is lionized in legal circles, critics say he spearheaded a homogeneous court of secular elites that overstepped its bounds by promoting a universalist legal agenda out of touch with the rest of society….READ MORE

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