Who is Supreme Court Justice Asher Dan Grunis?

Justice expected to replace Beinisch as Supreme Court president if controversial bill passes.

November 29, 2011 05:44
1 minute read.
Israeli Supreme Court 311

Supreme Court 311. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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If the controversial “Grunis bill” is passed into law, Supreme Court Justice Asher Dan Grunis is expected to replace Dorit Beinisch as Supreme Court president in February, after Beinisch retires.

Grunis, whose specialist field is civil and commercial law, is popular among right-wing MKs because of his reputation as a conservative judge who is opposed to judicial activism and intervening in the decisions of governmental authorities.

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The “Grunis bill” will shorten the required term for Supreme Court presidents from three years to two years. The mandatory retirement age for justices is 70, and Grunis will be over age 67 when Beinisch retires. The appointment of presidents follows the law of seniority and Grunis is the longest-serving justice.

Born in Tel Aviv in 1945, Grunis qualified as a lawyer in 1969. He went on to gain a graduate law degree from the University of Virginia and a doctorate in law from York University in Toronto. After returning to Israel, Grunis lectured in law in Tel Aviv University before his appointment as a district court judge in 1988. In 2002, Grunis served a year-long temporary term on the Supreme Court before being appointed as a permanent justice.

Grunis is known for his dissenting arguments on several key judgements.

In 2006, the Supreme Court ruled that the “Tal Law” regulating national and IDF service in the haredi community discriminated against secular Israelis.

Grunis, however, took the minority view that the court should only interfere in Knesset decisions if they violated minority rights, and said that the “Tal Law” harmed majority rights.

Grunis also has a sharp sense of humor. In a High Court hearing in January over NGO Yesh Gvul’s petition against Yoav Galant’s appointment as IDF chief of staff, he quipped, “perhaps the IDF should appoint judge [Richard] Goldstone instead,” referencing the author of a controversial UN report on the Gaza conflict published in 2009.

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