"The Supreme Court has become a powerful political player;" "Judges are appointed via cronyism;" "Legal advice to the government has become a means of thwarting policy;" New Right Party chairperson and Minister of Justice Ayelet Shaked said in a combative speech at the Israel Economy 2050 Conference of Kohelet and the National Union of Israeli Students.
One day after launching her party's campaign with the slogan, "Shaked will overcome the Supreme Court, Bennett will defeat Hamas," Shaked is taking the offensive against the Supreme Court and the Attorney General.
This all comes as the Supreme Court has infuriated right wing groups after banning Michael Ben-Ari, the leader of the far-right Jewish Power ( Otzma Yehudit ) Party from standing in next month's Knesset elections, reversing a decision by Israel’s central election committee, after an appeal by the left-wing Meretz Party. At the same time, the Supreme Court approved the participation of Jewish Power’s second-ranked candidate Itamar Ben Gvir as well as the Arab nationalist party Balad.
At this stage, it is unclear whether Shaked will be minister of justice in the next government, but her campaign is based on the assumption that she will continue in her position for another term, during which she will confront the Supreme Court. Among the plans she presented is the appointment of Supreme Court justices by politicians.
"A new and powerful player has entered the political arena - the Supreme Court," Shaked said, adding that a new concept has taken hold in Israel in recent years: "The idea of jurisprudence as all-encompassing and the Supreme Court as the ultimate arbiter. The new generation has established jurists, step by step, as the rising force in Israeli democracy."
Shaked went on to say, "The Supreme Court has become the final authority on policy. Simultaneously, in a natural way, the power of legal advisers has been enhanced. Advice for supporting policy has turned into advice for thwarting policy. A policy not approved by legal counsel was not defended before the Supreme Court."
Shaked said that she had broke the Supreme Court's monopoly in her position as chairperson of the judicial appointments committee. "The Supreme Court today is more diverse and more representative than before I became minister," Shaked declared.
In her speech, Shaked presented her 100-day plan for a legal revolution. Among other things, she said that the plan would include eliminated the judicial appointments committee for the Supreme Court; instead, justices would be appointed at the recommendation of the minister of justice, who would bring a candidate for approval by the cabinet and the Knesset, with a public hearing being conducted for Supreme Court justices.
Shaked described the change in the method of selecting Supreme Court justices as "the first and most important measure of all… In most western democracies, judges on the nation's highest court are appointed by elected officials. There is no reason why Israel should be any different. It is unacceptable that in a sound democracy like Israel, justices should have veto power over the selection of their colleagues. Supreme Court justices will be selected by cabinet decision, as proposed by the minister of justice and with Knesset ratification. At the same time, a hearing for candidates will be held in the Knesset Constitute, Law, and Justice Committee."
Shaked added that in this way, the public would know "the Supreme Court candidate's legal outlook," while of course saying nothing about the candidate's "political outlook." "The public is entitled to know the legal outlook of a candidate for the Supreme Court," she said.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on March 18, 2019
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