Bench Memos

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More on Kagan’s “Judicial Hero,” Aharon Barak


Here’s the video (1:45-3:35) of Elena Kagan’s 2006 introduction of Israeli justice Aharon Barak.  

Kagan’s acclaim for Barak is even more ardent and extreme than I realized.  Kagan begins by referring to the portraits of four “great justices” with whom Harvard Law School has been associated—Brandeis, Holmes, Brennan, and Frankfurter.  But, she says, “the Harvard Law School association of which I’m most proud”—more proud, that is, than of the associations with Brandeis, Holmes, Brennan, or Frankfurter—“is the one we have with President Barak of the Israeli Supreme Court.” 

Kagan continues:  “I told President Barak, and I want to repeat in public, that he is my judicial hero.  He is the judge or Justice in my lifetime whom [sic], I think, best represents and has best advanced the values of democracy and human rights, of the rule of law and of justice.”

So much for efforts to dismiss Kagan’s comments as “general praise” or “boilerplate.”


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