Supreme Court Justice Dorit Beinisch Born
Induction ceremony for Justice Dorit Beinish at the Chagall hall, Knesset in Jerusalem, 2006. Photo: GPO Israel

February 28, 1942

Dorit Beinisch, the ninth president of Israel’s Supreme Court, is born Dorit Werba in Tel Aviv to a father who works as a civil servant after arriving from Poland in the 1930s and a mother who teaches kindergarten.

She marries Jerusalem lawyer Yeheskell Beinisch in 1964. She graduates from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem with a bachelor of laws in 1967 and a master of laws in 1969. She goes to work in the Justice Ministry with the State Attorney’s Office in 1967 and remains there until being appointed to the Supreme Court in 1995. Her responsibilities include arguing cases before the Supreme Court as the director of constitutional law and administrative law, a position she achieves in 1975. As the deputy state attorney, she gathers evidence for the Kahan Commission during its investigation of the 1982 Sabra and Shatila massacres in Lebanon. She also participates in the prosecution of the Jewish Underground, which carries out terror attacks against Palestinians in the West Bank in the 1980s. She receives death threats during that prosecution.

Beinisch in 1989 becomes Israel’s first female state attorney, the highest-ranking nonpolitical role at the Justice Ministry. She holds that position until her Supreme Court appointment in 1995.

The Judicial Appointments Committee unanimously selects Beinisch to succeed the retiring Aharon Barak as the president, or chief justice, of the Supreme Court upon his retirement, and she is sworn in Sept. 14, 2006. She is the first woman to hold the position.

On the high court, she emphasizes civil and human rights and the oversight of government and military actions. Her notable rulings include the inadmissibility of evidence when a suspect is not made aware of his rights, the illegality of corporal punishment of children by their parents, the need to reroute the West Bank separation barrier around a particular Palestinian village, and the unconstitutionality of prison privatization.

Beinisch retires in 2012.