According to the report, in 2006, during her term as dean of Harvard Law School, Elena Kagan introduced Judge Barak during an award ceremony as “my judicial hero.” She added, “He is the judge or justice in my lifetime whom, I think, best represents and has best advanced the values of democracy and human rights, of the rule of law and of justice.”
The White House explained that Kagan was simply welcoming back a former student; Judge Barak studied at Harvard in the 1960s. But Kagan’s opponents have rolled out Judge Barak — “the other Barack,” as some call him in reference to President Obama — as Exhibit A in the case against her.
Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, on Thursday called Kagan’s introduction “very troubling” and suggested it “might provide real insight into her approach to the law.”
On Wednesday, Judge Robert Bork, whose own Supreme Court nomination in 1987 resulted in a Senate vote against confirmation, said Judge Barak “may be the worst judge on the planet, the most activist,” and argued that Kagan’s admiration for him is “disqualifying in and of itself.”
Kagan’s supporters, however, noted that Judge Barak has also drawn praise from American conservatives, including Justice Antonin Scalia of the Supreme Court, who introduced Judge Barak at an award ceremony in 2007. The Jewish Daily Forward reported that Justice Scalia described Judge Barak as a “judicial pioneer” and said he has “profound respect for the man.”
Even some of Judge Barak’s critics rejected the claims. “Can’t Judge Bork and the rest of Kagan’s opponents find something else — and less bizarre — to attack her with?” asked the Orthodox Union’s Institute of Public Affairs.