Controversial US Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan is likely to have her appointment as one of the highest judges in American blocked for a number of reasons, not least of which is her adoration for former Israeli Chief Justice Aharon Barak.
In 2006, Kagan, who was at the time dean of Harvard Law School, introduced Barak at a school function as "my judicial hero." She went on to say that for her, Barak represented exactly what the judiciary should and could become.
For her Republican and conservative detractors, that was enough to disqualify Kagan.
Former US Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork said that Barak "may be the worst judge on the planet," and Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said that Kagan's idolizing of him "might provide real insight into her approach to the law."
Barak was controversial during his time as president of Israel's High Court of Justice, and became even more so when he stepped down in 2006. Barak held firmly to a belief that the judicial branch should trump all other branches of government, and be extremely activist, rather than simply acting as a stabilizer.
In his book "The Judge in a Democracy," Barak applauded the fact that over the past couple decades the judiciary in many Western nations had gained such significant power. No where is that more true than in Israel, where the High Court of Justice now appoints its own judges and enjoys nearly limitless veto power over the other branches of government, conditions that Barak was largely responsible for creating.
In short, Barak believes that democracy should be constitutionalized. While the term sounds reasonable, in practice it effectively puts the bulk of power in a democratic society in the hands of judges. Right-leaning Israelis who were constantly at the mercy of Barak's left-leaning views can attest to the near-tyrranical situation that resulted.
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