BADINTER, ROBERT (1928– ), French lawyer and minister of justice. Born in Paris, Badinter studied law there and at Columbia University. A lawyer and a professor of law, Badinter was a well-known opponent of the death penalty and fighter for civil rights. After taking office as minister of justice in 1981 he promoted and had passed – sometimes in the face of considerable opposition – legislation towards the abrogation of the death penalty, abrogation of the special tribunal for security offenses ("Cour de sécurité de l'Etat"), and curtailment of the powers of the police. His militant stand on these and related issues made him the target of virulent attacks, sometimes of an antisemitic nature. Prior to his joining the government he had been active in Jewish organizations.
Before the change in the political majority in 1986, Badinter was appointed president of the Constitutional Council, which is the highest authority in France for interpreting the constitution. He remained in this position till 1995. The same year, he was elected senator from the Hauts-de-Seine district and was reelected nine years later.
Badinter published L'Execution (1973); Liberté (1976); L'abolition (2000, about his fight against the death penalty); and two historical studies: Libres et égaux, l'émancipation des Juifs sous la Révolution française (1989), on the emancipation of Jews by the French Revolution, and Un antisémitisme ordinaire, Vichy et les avocats juifs (1997), on the treatment of Jewish lawyers by the Vichy regime.
[Gideon Kouts /
Dror Franck Sullaper (2nd ed.)]