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Aaron Zelinsky
Aaron Zelinsky served as a law clerk for Justices John Paul Stevens (Ret.) and Anthony Kennedy of the United States Supreme Court, as well as Chief Justice Dorit Beinisch of the Israeli Supreme Court and Judge Thomas B. Griffith of the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. From 2010-2011 he served as Special Assistant to State Department Legal Adviser Harold Hongju Koh.

Aaron has taught constitutional law at the Peking University School of Transnational Law as well as foreign relations and national security law at the University of Maryland. Prior to law school he worked as deckhand on the Brazilian tall ship Tocorime and as a field assistant tracking migratory birds in the Negev Desert.

He is a graduate of Yale College and Yale Law School.

His writing has appeared in the Yale Law Journal, Yale Journal of International Law Online, Yale Law & Policy Review, Alabama Law Review, Michigan Law Review Online, Terrorism & Political Violence, Journal of Homeland Security, and Defense & Security Analysis.

He is the founder of

All opinions expressed here are his own.

Entries by Aaron Zelinsky

When Excellent Sheep Grow Up

(1) Comments | Posted October 15, 2014 | 11:24 AM

In the recent and much-debated book, Excellent Sheep, William Deresiewicz takes aim at America's most prestigious universities. The former Yale professor assails an educational system that instills only a need for "compulsive overachievement" in its students, leaving them with a "sense that they need...

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The Top Ten Lines from the Supreme Court's DOMA Decision

(54) Comments | Posted June 26, 2013 | 11:34 AM

Here is a list of the 10 most important lines from today's Supreme Court opinions in Windsor. See any that are missing? Put them in the comments!

"DOMA is unconstitutional as a deprivation of the liberty of the person protected by the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution." -- Justice Kennedy

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Jason Collins and Online Hate Speech

(27) Comments | Posted April 29, 2013 | 5:43 PM

I -- like many others -- am incredibly happy that Jason Collins became the first openly gay major league athlete today. Collins is a hero, and he struck a major blow for human rights. Kudos as well to Sports Illustrated for a beautifully written, history-making article.


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Presidents Day and Purim

(31) Comments | Posted February 17, 2013 | 7:51 PM

For American Jews, this week contains a holiday double-header. On Monday we observe Presidents Day. This Saturday evening we celebrate Purim, commemorating the Jews' salvation from genocide as recounted in the Book of Esther.

Presidents Day rarely falls in the same week as Purim, and it won't again for almost...

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Fixing the Judicial Clerkship Crisis

(2) Comments | Posted January 30, 2013 | 2:54 PM

The federal judicial branch is in crisis. No, I'm not talking about marriage equality, the Voting Rights Act, or corporate financing of elections. Judges have a problem with how they hire their law clerks.

Most federal judges hire between two and four law clerks each year. They're usually recent law...

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The Truth About Israel's Gun Laws

(424) Comments | Posted December 20, 2012 | 2:28 PM

Friday's unspeakable tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, put gun control back on our national agenda. For now, pro-gun advocates are mostly keeping quiet, but we're already starting to hear the inevitable response: "Guns aren't the issue. Look at Israel. They've got lots of guns and little gun-related violence." There's...

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Why Torture Is Still Wrong

(92) Comments | Posted December 13, 2012 | 4:42 PM

Kathryn Bigelow's new film, Zero Dark Thirty, has reignited the debate over the role torture should play in U.S. counterterrorism policy. Here's the CliffsNotes answer: none.

Torture is abhorrent, un-American, and wrong. As President Obama properly noted back in May 2009, torture also undermines the rule of...

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Memo to Republicans: Give Up the Fight Against Marriage Equality

(555) Comments | Posted November 7, 2012 | 2:25 AM

I'm a Democrat, but here's some free advice to Republicans: starting right now, get off the "traditional marriage" bus as fast as you can. If today's election showed anything, it's that the demographic tide is turning against you. Big time.

Betting against basic human rights is never good for...

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The Top 10 Lines From the Third Presidential Debate

(160) Comments | Posted October 23, 2012 | 12:27 AM

In case you didn't get a chance to watch (or just want to relive it), here are the top 10 lines from the final presidential debate. And three bonus terrible lines.

Any missing? Put them in the comments!

1) But Governor, when it comes to our foreign policy, you seem...

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The Top Ten Lines From the Second Presidential Debate

(215) Comments | Posted October 17, 2012 | 9:02 AM

It's true, you really should watch the entire debate (or at least read the transcript), but for those of you who don't have the time, or want to re-live last night, here are the top ten lines from the 2012 Hofstra Presidential Debate.

Any missing?...

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The Presidential Debate: Baseball Quiz

(0) Comments | Posted September 30, 2012 | 5:48 PM

With the arrival of October, it's time for two great American pastimes: baseball and presidential debates. Match the presidential debater with the ballplayer they most resemble. (With apologies to Robert Cover).

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The Five Presidential Debate Lines You'll Hear Again Wednesday

(8) Comments | Posted September 27, 2012 | 3:26 PM

With less than a week until the first presidential debate, both candidates are hunkering down for some final practice sessions. They'll carefully review tapes of their own performances, as well as those of their opponents.

But these presidential debates don't exist in a vacuum; they're part of a long...

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The Presidential Debate Expectation Game

(2) Comments | Posted September 21, 2012 | 1:15 PM

It's mudslinging season. The presidential election is less than seven weeks away, and the debates are less than two. So the Obama and Romney campaigns are doing what they do best: knocking their opposition. Scoring points wherever possible. Making the case that the other side just isn't fit to govern.

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Why Judge Walker's Sexuality Doesn't Matter

(87) Comments | Posted August 5, 2010 | 9:40 AM

Judge Vaughn Walker's Prop 8 decision is destined for higher courts, but some of those opposing his decision have descended to the lowest level of mud-slinging. A vocal number of same-sex marriage opponents have criticized the Perry decision on the grounds that Judge Walker is (supposedly) gay.

Reasonable people...

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Linda Lingle's Faux-Constitutionalism

(37) Comments | Posted July 7, 2010 | 8:02 PM

On Tuesday, Hawaii's Governor, Linda Lingle, vetoed a bill which would have legalized civil unions in the Aloha State. Governor Lingle's stated rationale for vetoing civil unions -- protecting the democratic process enshrined in Hawaii's Constitution --doesn't hold water.

Governor Lingle should come clean: Her veto was a policy...

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Borking Barak: Why the Right's Newest Attack on Kagan Is Wrong

(18) Comments | Posted June 24, 2010 | 1:25 AM

This week, Republicans ramped up their newest attack on Elena Kagan: her praise in 2006 for Aharon Barak, Israel's former Chief Justice. This line of attack is as baseless as it is unsound.

In her 2006 remarks, Dean Kagan wasn't sending a dog-whistle to the International-Cabal-of-Judicial-Activists that she would...

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Elena Kagan: Bench the Judge-Umpire Analogy

(17) Comments | Posted June 2, 2010 | 1:04 AM

The unofficial start of summer means that it's time for two of America's favorite pastimes: baseball games and Supreme Court confirmations. Chief Justice Roberts combined the two when he declared during his confirmation hearing that "Judges are like umpires... Umpires don't make the rules; they apply them."

While Roberts...

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Liz Cheney Announces New "Unpatriotic Seven": Alexander Hamilton "Irate"

(42) Comments | Posted March 10, 2010 | 10:24 PM

Following her call to remove the "Al-Qaeda Seven," Liz Cheney has released a list of seven additional U.S. officials whose work on behalf of enemies of the state makes them unfit to serve their country:

John Adams defended British solders accused of perpetrating the Boston Massacre; he even...

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Relax the Caps for Haitian Visa Applicants

(10) Comments | Posted March 3, 2010 | 8:40 AM

The two-month anniversary of the Haiti quake is fast approaching. The devastation is shocking. Hundreds of thousands are dead and wounded; over a million have been displaced. The tent cities and congested hospitals of Port-au-Prince are a reminder that Haiti's wounds are still fresh. Nevertheless, the transition to rebuilding has...

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Purim and the End of "Don't Ask Don't Tell"

(29) Comments | Posted February 27, 2010 | 12:37 AM

Tonight marks the start of the Jewish holiday of Purim. Jews around the world will read the Book of Esther, chronicling the traditional story of the Jewish people's salvation from destruction over two millennia ago.

The Purim story has a special resonance this year: The Book of Esther marks...

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