The Supreme Court, Jerusalem.
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
MK Moti Yogev (Bayit Yehudi) on Monday submitted a bill to strip the Supreme Court of powers it assumed during the “judicial revolution” of 1995. The bill seeks to remove the court’s the ability to annul laws it finds unconstitutional by adopting “the British model,” by which the court may point out when a normal law contradicts a Basic Law but ultimately allows the legislature to decide whether to abrogate it. The bill is cosponsored by lawmakers from five coalition parties.
“With the absence of a formal constitution, the authority to legislate is given to the Knesset as the house of public representatives, and the duty of the court ends with interpreting and implementing the law, when it is asked to settle disputes,” the bill’s explanatory notes state.
It also explains the “judicial revolution” of 1995, when the court determined it can cancel a law passed by the Knesset if it contradicts a Basic Law in the case of United Mizrahi Bank Ltd. vs Migdal Kfar Shitufi. The court, led by then-president Aharon Barak, based on its interpretation of the newly passed Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty.
“The Supreme Court changed the situation completely and then decided that it has the ability to annul laws, although this authority was never given to it,” the bill’s notes state. “So far, the Supreme Court annulled 14 laws and thus prevented the Knesset from fulfilling the will of people, as it should be in a democratic regime.”
In 2015, Yogev – in response to a ruling from the justices about razing settlers’ homes – said that a D-9 armored bulldozer should be sent to raze the court. After a wave of criticism, Yogev described his comments as a “bad metaphor.”
In response to the submission of the bill, Meretz chairwoman Zehava Gal-On said it is yet another attempt by the Bayit Yehudi Party to harass the Supreme Court and to promote controversial legislation.
“After [Justice Minister] Ayelet Shaked announced a ‘revolution’ in the Supreme Court when she appointed four new justices, the coalition is still panicking that the court will be activist,” she said. “They want complete freedom to crush our democracy and to legislate racist and anti-democratic bills.”
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Gal-On added that “they should stop acting like a bunch of cowards and declare their real intention – erasing the value of equality under the law and making Israel a democracy for Jews only.”
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