Dorit Beinisch, who in February retired as president of the Supreme Court of Israel, will visit NYU Law in the fall as a distinguished global fellow and a senior fellow at the Center on Law and Security (CLS). She will co-teach a seminar on national security judging with CLS faculty director Professor Samuel Rascoff.

Beinisch received her LL.B and LL.M. (summa cum laude) from Hebrew University. Beginning in 1967, she was a lawyer in the Israel Ministry of Justice, holding increasingly senior positions, including director of the constitutional and administrative law department. In 1989 Beinisch was appointed the State Attorney of the State of Israel, becoming the first woman in Israel to hold that position. In this capacity she was in charge of all state attorneys in the country, and represented the state in a variety of litigation (civil, criminal and constitutional), mainly before the Supreme Court. Serving as State Attorney, Beinisch focused on fighting corruption, dealing with issues of human rights based on both Israeli and international law, and ensuring compliance with the law by police and security forces.

In 1996 Beinisch was appointed justice of the Supreme Court of Israel, and in 2006 was named president of the court (the equivalent of chief justice in the U.S.), becoming the first woman to hold that position, as well. As a justice, she grappled with some of the same issues that drew her attention as a government lawyer. Beinisch ruled in numerous cases relating to terrorism and national security, including Israel’s security fence and targeted killings. In 2008 she also ruled that a portion of Israel’s Unlawful Combatants Law authorizing administration detentions violated a detainee’s rights to liberty, holding that the law should be interpreted in accordance with international law. In one of her earliest decisions, Beinisch ruled that parents may not use corporal punishment. Beinisch also ruled against privatization of prisons in Israel, holding that a privately managed and operated prison violates the constitutional rights to personal freedom and human dignity. She developed case law doctrine authorizing judges to disqualify evidence on the grounds that it was obtained illegally. And she ruled that the "Tal law" – which exempted ultra-Orthodox Jews from military service – was unconstitutional.

Last July, Justice Beinisch and University Professor Jeremy Waldron co-convened NYU Law’s National Security and Civil Liberties conference in Buenos Aires.

Beinisch received an honorary doctorate from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and this month is expected to receive an honorary degree from Ben-Gurion University and the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliya. In November 2012 Beinisch will receive an honorary degree from the Weizmann Institute of Science.

“Justice Beinisch has had an extraordinarily distinguished career,” said Dean Richard Revesz. “Her particular concern with issues of security, the rule of law and human rights, and the role of courts in addressing those issues means she’ll bring invaluable perspective to matters that have been a central focus in this country for more than a decade. It will be thrilling to have her here as a colleague.”

Posted May 15, 2012