Former Cardozo Law School Professor Named New Israeli Supreme Court Judge

By: Shira Krinsky  |  March 1, 2018

A former professor at Yeshiva University’s Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Professor Alex Stein, has been chosen by the Judicial Selection Committee for the Israeli Supreme Court to fill one of the seats that is being vacated in the coming months. Justices Uri Shohan and Yoram Danziger will be stepping down from their positions on the Supreme Court this year. On February 22nd, the Committee announced that Stein, who currently teaches at Brooklyn Law School, and Lod District Court Judge Ofer Groskopf will take the two soon-to-be-vacated positions. Stein will be sworn in in August.

Stein is 60 years old and currently lives in Connecticut. He taught at Cardozo Law School for over a decade, from 2004 to 2016. Cardozo Professors Michael Herz and Suzanne Stone commented on his appointment that, “we know we speak for the entire Cardozo faculty in saying that he is a brilliant scholar and an insightful and generous colleague. The academy’s loss is the Court’s and the country’s gain.”

Stein’s selection was backed by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, who is the chair of the Judicial Selection Committee. This selection was not without controversy, however, as Stein has lived outside of Israel for the past 15 years, and so has not been writing about Israeli law for more than a decade.  

Stein is expected to push the Israeli Supreme Court more to the right, and called a conservative by Shaked, while Groskopf is expected to be a more liberal justice. Shaked, who is a member of the HaBayit HaYehudi party, and one of the leading figures on the right of Israeli politics, explained that one of her goals when she took office was to make the Israeli court more diverse, and that two new judges have been selected who come from “unique and diverse cultural backgrounds.” Overall, however, the Supreme Court is expected to get more conservative, with more votes coming out in Shaked’s favor, and with conservatives having an eight to six majority on some issues.

Herz and Stone shared their thoughts on how Stein’s new appointment will benefit the court. “Press coverage of his appointment is focused (of course, and just as it always is regarding Supreme Court appointments in this country) on the future justice’s ideology, describing his appointment as part of a (continued) shift to the right for the Court. But they insist that Stein has a great deal to add to the court, “adding two cautionary notes” to the view of Stein as just a part of the shift to the right.. “First, most of what the Court does is not profoundly political and ideological, and Alex [Stein] brings enormous expertise in areas of private law and procedure which will enable him to make important contributions to the less visible but no less vital work of the Court,” they noted.“Second, Alex is intellectually confident, makes up his own mind, and follows the law and the facts where they lead. Our guess is that as a justice he will end up disappointing people on all points of the ideological spectrum at some point or another–which will be a sign that he is doing his job.”