‘Grunis Bill’ is now law

Move paves way for Justice Asher Dan Grunis to replace High Court president Beinisch.

January 3, 2012 00:46
2 minute read.
Israeli courtroom

Israeli courtroom 260 R. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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The minimum tenure for a Supreme Court president has been lowered from three to two years, after the “Grunis Bill” passed in its final reading on Monday night.

The initiative was known as the “Grunis Bill” because it will allow Supreme Court Justice Asher Dan Grunis, an opponent of judicial activism, to replace Dorit Beinisch as president of the court when she retires at age 70 – the mandatory retirement age – in February. Grunis will be 67 at that time, which would have disqualified him from the position.

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Politicians on the Right believe that Grunis’s views on the role of the judiciary make him less likely to order the dismantling of West Bank homes and to go against other decisions made by state authorities. As a result, MK Ya’acov Katz (National Union), who proposed the bill, has been accused of proposing a “personal bill.”

Katz said in the plenum Monday night that his bill will improve the image of the Supreme Court, which he explained has been delegitimized by canceling laws passed by the Knesset.

“I am such an open-minded democrat,” Katz quipped, after saying that he does not necessarily agree with Grunis’s political opinions, but is still willing to pass a law that would help him.

Opposition leader Tzipi Livni (Kadima) slammed the bill in the plenum Monday night, saying it that its “personal nature” disrespected the Knesset and Israeli democracy.

“Some things disgust anyone who has a spine and a legal, moral compass,” she said.

Livni added that while Grunis was a worthy justice, his namesake bill was “twisted” and should not be allowed to pass.

Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin also expressed disappointment with the bill.

“You say the bill isn’t personal, but then you say you want Grunis to be chosen,” Rivlin said, claiming that the Knesset would be “voting for a person and not a process.”

Culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat (Likud) defended the initiative, telling the opposition to “stop the drama.”

She said the government did not seek to harm or limit the courts, and brought as an example the “Bar Association Bill,” which Likud ministers fervently oppose because it would cancel election results in the lawyers’ organization.

The final vote on the “Grunis Bill” came weeks later than expected, after coalition chairman Ze’ev Elkin (Likud) said he was reconsidering his support for it.

Sources said the postponement occurred because Shas had refused to vote for the bill unless coalition parties came to an agreement regarding the “Bar Association Bill,” which would increase the haredi party’s power in the committee that selects judges in rabbinical courts.

Another source speculated that the vote had been delayed because Kadima was planning a filibuster, a claim that Elkin fervently denied.

On Monday, Kadima and Likud agreed that the opposition would only deliver twoand- a-half hours of speeches opposing the bill before it was put to its final vote, thus preventing any filibuster.

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