24 April 2012

There are judges in Jerusalem

Yes, that's still correct. The question is not whether there are judges but what is being done lately to take the sting out of their powers over some unruly legislators. Some short time ago I have posted a lengthy discourse on the issue of Supreme Court and the incessant attempts of our intemperate legislative arm, the Knesset, in two directions: to pass some exceptionally asinine bills and to ensure that the Supreme Court doesn't interfere with this activity.

Some time passed since and some changes occurred in the make-up of the Supreme Court. To immense satisfaction of more unbridled MKs, their nemesis, Judge Dorit Beinisch, the president of the Supreme Court, was replaced by a conservative Asher Grunis. Several other judges of a more conservative outlook were added to the team.

The changes should have made our MKs happy and content - but apparently it's not enough for many of them. Supported as they are by the minister of justice Yaakov Neeman, the Knesset is busily digging under a main foundation of the Supreme Court powers - the power to strike down laws, freshly passed by the Knesset, by declaring them unconstitutional*. While the Supreme Court very rarely uses this power, I hope I don't have to explain that it is vital for protecting the nation from its elected legislative branch. And, of course, this power is the mainstay of the Supreme Court independence from the executive and legislative branches, which independence is - you would agree - a guarantee of keeping the hard earned freedoms intact from some too frisky operators in the Knesset and/or government.

The idea, nurtured by Yaakov Neeman and his supporters in Knesset, is not exactly new. The previous version of the proposed law, that would allow Knesset to overturn the Supreme Court decision and to revive the stricken down bill, demanded 70 MKs votes for such revival. In the new version, proposed by Mr Neeman, this number is reduced to 65. Which, in effect, means that a controversial law, passed  by the current coalition, will be promptly restored to life by same coalition, should such law be red-lighted by the Supreme Court. Effectively neutering the said Supreme Court.

And behold the surprise: the conservative Chief Justice, Asher Grunis, is unhappy with the idea:

The proposed bill in its present format, said Grunis, was very problematic and required in-depth discussion between all the relevant parties. He warned that passage of the bill with its current wording would be constitutionally damaging and would cause “weeping for generations to come.”
If your require a translation of this quote from legalese, you can write to me off-line or imagine a brawl in a seaport pub... whatever. In fact, looking at the shenanigans of our esteemed MKs (see, for example, some references to Danny Danon in that previous post), it looks like the weeping could start earlier that hon. Judge predicts.

What can I add to this? Just a side observation: MK Tzipi Hotovely, a female and, if humanly possibly, even more verbose version of MK Danny Danon, laments in her article:
It is the duty of each side to express opposition to moves it does not approve of. But to defame and incite the Knesset – that is no one's right. Menachem Begin once declared: "There are judges in Jerusalem." Jerusalem – may I remind you – also has legislators.
Don't we know it, dear Tzipi, don't we know it...and don't we sometimes wish that... oh well.

(*) To avoid nitpicking: there is no constitution in Israel, like in some other democracies, and the term "unconstititional" here means contradicting the basic laws of the state.


Dick Stanley said...

Okay, so why doesn't Israel have a constitution?

SnoopyTheGoon said...

That's an excellent question. Mostly because of religious folks, but there are some other reasons. Part of it here:


Al Ramy said...

Asher is not that much of a Conservative, he s more "by the book" type and I have not spoked to him since 1970. I grew up next door to him and he was a fair minded, low key person, who never made any trouble. Beinish unlike the butch Lesbiana  Red Commisar  Elena Kagan  is nevertheless a lefty-Feminazi, so are several other judges including the retired Barak, a certified, closeted lefty, the "chief justice" who was a poster child of the New International Left, citing international law on many occasions. Israel should have its own  "Constitution" and stop referring to the laws left by the British Mandate, nor should it use what Lefties like Barak (who Kagan cites as her inspiration) or the  radioactive manatee Beinish opinions. This is a form of undercover intrusion of the Left in the operation of government. They do it in Israel, in the U.K and in the USA with numerous NGO's, designed to  clobber the legal system with appeals, hearings, retrials and numerous obstacles. At the same time, the Israeli Right with the unrestrained, "expansionist" Settlers,  got to get grip of reality, they are not an entity to themselves, being erved by the rest of the country,  the court is not the place to make the  battle, and Asher Grunis is not supposed to take charge of their problems. Dumping on Asher the same toxic cases like dropping on Judge Roberts the Health Reform or Immigration Case to sort out is fundamentally wrong, these issues need to be sorted out in Congress, or Knesst, or British Parliament, not the International Court, nor the European Parliament, but each State has to make its own rules, what best suits its own population. Surely, the same "useful idiots" taking the Israeli court for a ride will never dare to tell the Chinese or the Russians what to do?

SnoopyTheGoon said...

Aside of some glitches in your terminology, Al Ramy, its' a fair picture of the dire situation of our courts. Although comparison with established and well-to-do countries like UK or US is unfair somewhat.