WorldNetDaily.com reporter Aaron Klein baselessly suggested Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan is not mainstream because she reportedly once called retired Israeli Supreme Court Justice Aharon Barak “my judicial hero.” In fact, conservative Justice Antonin Scalia once presented Barak with an award and reportedly praised him.
Klein: Kagan regards “one of the most extreme liberal activist justices in history” as her “judicial hero”
From Klein's May 13 WorldNetDaily article:
President Obama's nominee for the Supreme Court, Elena Kagan, once called a judge universally regarded as one of the most extreme liberal activist high court justices in history “my judicial hero.”
“He is the judge who has best advanced democracy, human rights, the rule of law and justice,” stated Kagan in September 2006 introductory remarks at a Harvard University award ceremony.
Kagan was referring to Aharon Barak, the retired president of the Supreme Court of Israel, who at the time was receiving the Peter Gruber Foundation 2006 Justice Prize at Harvard.
Barak has been recognized across the political spectrum as one of the most liberal activist judges.
Scalia presented Barak with an award in 2007
Scalia presented Barak with an award. The American Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists (AAJLJ) honored Barak with its Pursuit of Justice Award in March 2007 at its International Conference, hosted by American University's Washington College of Law. A program for the event said Scalia was scheduled to present the award to Barak during a reception at the U.S. Supreme Court; the Spring 2008 issue of Justice Magazine, a publication by the International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists (IAJLJ) called Scalia's presentation the “highlight of the conference.”
The Jewish Daily Forward described Scalia's remarks as “singing Barak's praises.” In a July 10, 2007, profile in the Jewish Daily Forward, Benjamin Soskis wrote that during the reception, Scalia was “singing Barak's praises,” even as he “addressed the other obvious disparity between himself and the honoree.” From the article:
With the court's two Jewish justices looking on (Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, also two of the most enthusiastic champions of foreign court decisions as juridical resources), Scalia offered a moving tribute to his “good friend” Barak. No other living jurist has had a greater impact on his own country's legal system -- and perhaps on legal systems throughout the world -- Scalia argued. He 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.
Forward: Scalia described Barak as a “judicial pioneer.” Soskis also reported in the article that while Scalia noted differences between his and Barak's judicial philosophies, he “exposed a crucial condition of their intellectual camaraderie: the recognition that the substantial differences of the constitutional systems in which they operated necessarily produced divergent judicial philosophies.” From the article:
In his celebration of Barak, Scalia had described him as a judicial pioneer, stressing that the Israeli judge had struggled with questions concerning the nature and limits of his responsibilities as a jurist that Scalia, as a resident of a more mature constitutional system, had not had to confront. With this pronouncement, Scalia exposed a crucial condition of their intellectual camaraderie: the recognition that the substantial differences of the constitutional systems in which they operated necessarily produced divergent judicial philosophies. This insinuation angered Boston University's Lahav. At the ceremony's conclusion, she approached Barak, her former teacher, to complain that Scalia had celebrated his friend only to sequester him within the exceptionality of the Israeli legal system. Why didn't you confront Scalia, she asked, and let him know that he, too, could follow your example, championing vulnerable rights and liberties, if he only willed to do so?
IAJLJ president: Holocaust survivor Barak's life exemplifies “a life filled with hope for a Jewish society based on freedom, justice and human dignity.” According to Justice Magazine, at the same conference at which Scalia presented Barak with an award, IAJLJ president Alex Hertman said:
“The life of Aharon Barak, a child survivor of the Holocaust, symbolizes the victory of the Jewish people over those who tried to destroy them,” said IAJLJ President Alex Hertman. “His life exemplifies a victory of values over violence, a victory of excellence over mediocrity, and a life filled with hope for a Jewish society based on freedom, justice and human dignity as opposed to a society living by the sword.”
Klein misrepresented Barak's record to paint him as opposed to Israeli Army
Klein wrote in his column:
Barak worked tirelessly to place the judicial branch over the executive and legislative, subjecting even the Israel Defense Forces to judicial scrutiny on matters of self-defense.
For example, he famously ruled numerous times in favor of the Palestinians and against the IDF, which petitioned to construct the country's security fence on private Palestinian land in areas that had been used by terrorists to infiltrate Israeli population centers.
Barak's rulings halted the security fence construction and were blamed for scores of terrorist infiltrations from the very areas where Barak had stopped the fence from being built.
Klein distorted Barak's record on fence rulings. On his personal website, Media Matters' Terry Krepel noted that Klein's attack is a “highly selective reading of Barak's record,” because there at least “one instance in which a High Court panel headed by Barak ruled that the route of one section of the security fence is legal." Krepel also noted that the Israel consulate general's office in Los Angeles praised the ruling.