A Basic Law passed by 32 MKs doth not a constitution make

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November 3, 2014 15:42

No other democracy worldwide has ever treated legislation passed by a minority of parliament as a binding constitution.




Knesset

Wide view of the Knesset. (photo credit:MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

The heated debate over a bill to let the Knesset override Supreme Court decisions that overturn laws drove home a shocking fact: An entire generation has now grown up believing a law approved by a mere quarter of the Knesset actually constitutes binding constitutional legislation.

Back in 1992, when the Basic Law: Human Dignity and Freedom passed by a vote of 32-21, the idea that a law enacted with less than half the 120-member parliament even present and just a quarter voting in favor could be used by the court to overturn subsequent legislation passed by much larger majorities would have flabbergasted most Israelis. That’s precisely why so few MKs showed up to vote. On consequential votes, the entire house turns out. But few MKs in 1992 considered this bill terribly consequential.


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