Israel’s Supreme Court delays crucial judicial review hearing after Attorney General opposes plan
Jerusalem — Israel’s Supreme Court delayed the first of three important hearings on the legitimacy of the judicial review on Tuesday, led by the far-right government of Benjamin Netanyahu, after the country’s attorney general strongly expressed against the plan.
For the eight months since the coalition came to power, Justice Minister Yariv Levin, who is a friend of Netanyahu, has refused to convene the committee that selects the country’s judges, leaving several judges open. across the country.
Lawyers for the Attorney General Gail Baharav-Miara will now argue against the advisor of the minister of justice in court, a situation that experts said is very special.
Levin, a key architect of the overhaul, is seeking to change the composition of the election committee to give Netanyahu’s far-right ruling coalition the final say on judicial appointments, part of a broader judicial review proposed by the Netanyahu government.
Before the Court adjourned the hearing for 12 days, petitions against Levin’s refusal were heard on Thursday. Under normal circumstances, experts said, Levin’s position would be represented by the attorney general.
But after Baharav-Miara made it clear she was against the review and Levin’s position, he asked for the hearing to be delayed so he had time to seek independent advice.
“This is all very special,” said Amichai Cohen, a constitutional law professor and senior fellow at the Israel Democracy Institute, a Jerusalem think tank. Until the current government took office, he said, it was rare the Attorney General and the government took different positions. “Usually there is a conversation where a unified position is adopted,” he said.
The High Court adjourned the hearing until September 19.
In a court filing Monday, Baharav-Miara said Levin’s actions had led to several vacancies. If the selection committee is not convened before the end of the year, according to the poll, more than 53 judges will be vacant across the country – more than 5% of the national bench.
Levin has until Sunday to get independent counsel and submit his resignation to the Court.
The hearing is one of three major cases that Israel’s Supreme Court will hear this month about the validity of the judicial review. The judges’ rulings could set the stage for a constitutional crisis if Netanyahu’s government chooses not to abide by the rulings.
The most high-profile case is set for September 12, where the court will hear challenges to the coalition’s July motion to eliminate the “reasonableness standard.”
The Court uses the standard to remove parliamentary decisions and appointments on the basis that they are unreasonable.
Netanyahu’s coalition – dominated by religious and ultra-nationalist parties – says the country’s unelected judges have too much power and must be reined in. checks and balances and concentrates power in the hands of Netanyahu and his allies.
For more than eight months, tens of thousands of Israelis have taken to the streets to protest the review, marking the most sustained demonstrations the country has ever seen.
The coalition says judges should not be allowed to overturn major decisions by elected officials. Critics of the government say that removing the standard of reasoning opens the door to corruption and appointing unqualified crooks to important positions.