Grunis appointed next Supreme Court president

Beinisch’s replacement announced after controversial ‘Grunis Law’ passed last month.

By
February 12, 2012 00:51
2 minute read.
Supreme Court Justice Asher Dan Grunis [File].

Supreme Court Justice Asher Dan Grunis 370. (photo credit: Courtesy Supreme Court)

The Judicial Selection Committee elected Justice Asher Dan Grunis president of the Supreme Court on Friday, the Justice Ministry announced.

Grunis is expected to take office later this month, following the retirement of current Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch on February 28.

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Seven members of the committee voted for Grunis, with MK David Rotem (Israel Beiteinu) abstaining.

Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan, a member of the Judicial Selection Committee, welcomed Grunis’s appointment, calling him an “outstanding judge.” “I’m sure that as president, Grunis will continue to uphold individual rights and prevent attacks on citizens, especially minorities,” Erdan said.

Beinisch and Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman telephoned Grunis later on Friday to inform him of the committee’s decision and to offer their congratulations, the Justice Ministry said.

Grunis’s election comes after the Knesset passed an amendment to the court’s law last month. Dubbed the “Grunis Bill,” it effectively paved the way for Grunis to replace Beinisch by lowering the minimum tenure for a Supreme Court president from three to two years.

The former retirement age for presidents as stipulated by law was 70, which ruled out Grunis, who will be just over 67 years old on the day Beinisch retires. The new amendment reduces the minimum term to two years, making Grunis eligible for the Supreme Court presidency.

Tabled by MK Yaakov Katz (National Union) in July, the “Grunis Law” overturned a previous change to the court’s law initiated in 2007 by then-justice minister Daniel Friedmann, which stipulated a justice could only be elected Supreme Court president if he was eligible to serve a three-year minimum term.

Following the announcement of Grunis’s election, Katz said Israelis had been “active partners, through their representatives [in Knesset] of the selection.”

Katz said he believed the election of Grunis would usher in a new era in Israeli law.

“[The election will] return people’s trust in their judges, and they see those judges are people who represent their opinions, faith and heritage,” he added.

Likud MK and Coalition Chairman Ze’ev Elkin also welcomed Grunis’s appointment, calling him an “excellent justice” whose election as Supreme Court president would otherwise have been prevented by “a useless technicality.”

“I’m glad that the Knesset contributed to the implementation of justice,” Elkin said of the “Grunis Law,” adding that he hoped Grunis and the other Supreme Court justices would restore public confidence in the court.

The Legal Forum for the Land of Israel, a civil rights NGO, also wished Grunis well, and echoed politicians in saying that the newly elected Supreme Court president must now improve public confidence in Israel’s most important legal institution.

“The court must remember that its role is to strengthen the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state and not to become a stage for people who wish to undermine the state’s very existence,” said Legal Forum Chairman Nachi Eyal. “Grunis has a golden opportunity to set the court back on track and reverse the alarming decline in its status.”

Critics of the law, including the Movement for Quality Government (MQG), say that it is “personal” legislation, as right-wing politicians believe Grunis’s views on judicial activism make him less likely to order the dismantling of West Bank homes, or to rule against other decisions made by state authorities.

In January, the High Court of Justice rejected a petition by MQG against the law, stating that the petitioners had not shown grounds to demonstrate that it violated the Basic Laws.


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