Skip to comments.Breyer says US could learn from Israel
Posted on 09/18/2003 1:23:58 AM PDT by jmcclain19
Breyer Says U.S. Could Learn From Israel
NEW YORK - The United States could learn from compromises Israeli courts have struck to balance terrorism and human rights concerns, Supreme Court Justice Stephen G. Breyer said Friday.
Israeli judges have adopted what Breyer called "intermediate solutions" that acknowledge the security risks the country faces, the justice told an audience at Columbia Law School.
"There are many solutions that ... solve nothing to everyone's satisfaction but are not quite as restrictive of human rights as an extreme solution, nor as dangerous as some other extremes," Breyer said.
He gave an example drawn from Israeli courts of terror defendants who might try to use visits from lawyers to communicate terror instructions from behind bars. The security risk might make it impossible to allow such defendants to receive visits from any lawyer they choose, Breyer said, but not impossible to ensure a defendant has a lawyer nonetheless. Defendants could still choose lawyers from an approved list, Breyer said.
"Maybe to have a lawyer not of your choice (is better) than none at all," Breyer said.
Without mentioning the Sept. 11 terror attacks, Breyer said the Israeli experience is especially relevant to U.S. courts now. He stopped short of endorsing Israeli solutions but praised Justice Aharon Barak, president of the Israeli Supreme Court, who also spoke at Columbia.
"He's had to implement that kind of system, and when I read what he's done in particular cases, I think, yes, we have something to learn that could prove to be topical."
Breyer did not mention pending court challenges to U.S. anti-terror and security measures implemented after Sept. 11, 2001, and he did not mention any case with parallels to the Israeli lawyer issue.
New York lawyer Lynne Stewart is to go on trial next month on charges she helped a jailed Egyptian cleric direct terrorism from prison.
Breyer and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg were in New York for a program honoring Ginsburg, a graduate of Columbia Law School and a former professor there.
I agree in part with what he's saying. I think perhaps I have the greater problem with who is saying it. We can learn quite a bit from how Israel's court system handles balancing their laws and combating terror.
But in light of Breyer and Ginsberg's recent love affair with foreign law as opposed to our own, it makes me skeptical.
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