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Copyright (c) 2002 The Harvard Law Review Association
Harvard Law Review

FOREWORD: A JUDGE ON JUDGING: THE ROLE OF A SUPREME COURT IN A DEMOCRACY

November, 2002

116 Harv. L. Rev. 16

Author

Aharon Barak*

Excerpt



I. Introduction
 
I am not a philosopher. I am not a political scientist. I am a judge - a judge in the highest court of my country's legal system. So I ask myself a question that many supreme court judges - and, in fact, all judges on all courts in modern democracies 1 - ask themselves: what is my role as a judge? Certainly it is my role - and the role of every judge - to decide the dispute before me. Certainly it is my role, as a member of my nation's highest court, to determine the law by which the dispute before me should be decided. Certainly it is my role to decide cases according to the law of my legal system. But is that all that can be said about my role? Are there criteria for assessing the quality of my work as a judge? Certainly no such assessment should be based on the aesthetic quality of my writing. 2 Nor should the criterion be the number of sources I cite in my decisions. But then what would be a meaningful criterion? What is my role, and do I even have a "role" beyond merely deciding the dispute before me according to the law? These questions occupy me daily as I enter the courtroom and take my seat on the bench. In my twenty-four years of service on the Supreme Court of Israel, I have written thousands of opinions. But am I a "good" judge? ...
 
 
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