About the Israeli Supreme Court Project

About the Israeli Supreme Court Project

At a time when issues such as the place of religion in a democracy and the tradeoffs between liberty and security are of global concern, the decisions of the Israeli Supreme Court are an invaluable resource. Yet for several reasons – most obviously, the fact that they are written in a language relatively few people read – the Court’s decisions are too often overlooked. For more than two decades, the Friends of the Library of the Supreme Court of Israel has arranged for the translation into English, publication, and dissemination of some of the Court’s most significant decisions. Now the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law of Yeshiva University has launched the Israeli Supreme Court Project (ISCP) to continue and expand these efforts, increasing the visibility of and international engagement with the jurisprudence of the Israeli Supreme Court. Intended to both inform and engage constitutional scholars, lawyers, and judges in democracies around the world, the ISCP is a center of study and discussion of the decisions of the Israeli Supreme Court, one of the great judicial bodies of the world and a court at the forefront of dealing with issues at the core of what it means to be a democratic society.

The Israeli Supreme Court routinely deals with the complex and challenging questions facing open and multi-cultural societies everywhere.  These include issues of religious pluralism, judicial review of government actions, gender equality, and reconciling civil liberties with national security in an age of terrorism.  The ISCP provides a service to lawyers, judges, and scholars around the world who are grappling with these and similar issues.

The following are the primary components of the ISCP:

The core of the ISCP is the translation into English and dissemination of key opinions of the Israeli Supreme Court.  Historically, about ten opinions have been translated each year; the project will significantly increase that number.  In addition, the translations are now accessible via this website, on which more below.

The ISCP will host several public events each year on contemporary legal issues that are especially salient in, but by no means specific to, Israel. These would include a major conference bringing together Israeli, United States, and European High Court judges, academics, and practitioners, book panels, “continuing legal education” type events on recent Israeli cases, and individual lectures.

This robust website, which launched in late 2014, contains a searchable database of hundreds of translated cases, media from ISCP events, and links to items of interest pertaining to the Court. In addition, the "viewpoints" section provides an interactive platform for online discussion and debate. By engaging broader participation in response to the work of the Court, the website is an important resource for those interested in the Court’s jurisprudence or in comparative constitutionalism more generally.

The ISCP will host judges and academics with interests in international law, comparative constitutionalism, or Israeli law for visits to Cardozo. The ISCP also includes an academic advisory board whose members play an integral role in expanding the scope of the project. Cardozo Law School, which boasts a faculty with deep interests and expertise in comparative constitutionalism, law and national security, and law and religion, is the ideal home for this project. The project is a joint venture between the Floersheimer Center for Constitutional Democracy, whose goal is to better understand, and assist in improving, the functioning of constitutional democracies, both at home and abroad, and the Center for Jewish Law and Contemporary Civilization, which aims to contribute a distinctively Jewish legal perspective on political, moral, and social issues facing the world at large. Cardozo Law School and these two Centers routinely host Israeli Supreme Court justices and law professors, as well as a wide range of scholars, from Israel, the United States, and Europe, with interests at the heart of the project. The ISCP is directed by Cardozo professors Michel Rosenfeld, Director of the Program on Global and Comparative and Constitutional Theory, and Suzanne Last Stone, director of the Center for Jewish Law, Affiliated Faculty, Tel Aviv Law School, and academic consultant for several Israeli think tanks. Professor Rosenfeld is an expert on constitutional and comparative law, and Professor Stone has written extensively on Jewish law, religion and democracy in Israel, and globalization and legal theory. Ari Mermelstein, Associate Professor of Bible and Second Temple Literature at Yeshiva University and assistant director of the Center for Jewish Law, serves as Assistant Director.