Petitions against the Law to Cancel the Reasonableness Standard continued to be filed ahead of the historic hearing set for next month, with the submission of a new petition by 38 human rights organizations on Tuesday.
The petition, which the groups said should be consolidated with the several other pending petitions, was backed by groups such as the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, Adalah, Yesh Din, Women Against Violence, the Abraham Initiatives, Physicians for Human Rights, Gisha, and The Aguda – Israel’s LGBT Task Force. The group claims to represent interests from the Ethiopian, Mizrahi, Palestinian, Bedouin, Arab, and LGBTQ communities in Israel.
“These communities will be affected by the bill, and this petition is their voice,” argued the organizations. “The amendment will substantially weaken the main mechanism available to defend human rights.”
Two petitions already dismissed
The petitioners noted that, while two petitions had already been dismissed, theirs should be included in the September 12 hearing because it is the only explicitly human rights-oriented petition, and presents different and expanded rights-based arguments. The new petition argued that the law should be struck down because it would harm rule of law, separation of powers, and good governance.
The basic law amendment passed on July 24 restricted the courts from engaging in judicial review of full government and ministerial administrative decisions that could be deemed beyond the scope of what a reasonable and responsible authority would undertake.
The petition argued that administrative decisions cannot be separated from the constitutional rights that they implement. These decisions therefore need to be subject to judicial review. For example, petitioners argued that the procedure of cutting off electricity from a person’s home needs to be considered through the right of human dignity.
The right to housing
There were also rights that had not been legislated or inferred by the court that need to be protected by the reasonableness doctrine. The petitioners gave the example of a right to housing.
“The bill canceling the ‘Reasonability [standard]’ is part of a comprehensive attack on human rights and on the judiciary, which is the main protection that Israelis have against their rights being trampled on,” said ACRI attorney Gil Gan-Mor. “The law itself, and certainly as part of the judicial overhaul, needs to be repealed, or else we will find ourselves in a state where the authorities have the ability to persecute citizens and residents without any restraint.”
"These communities will be affected by the bill, and this petition is their voice. The amendment will substantially weaken the main mechanism available to defend human rights.”Text of the petition
The petitioners also noted that the bill needs to be understood in the context of a broader agenda to weaken the judiciary. Once the law is secure, a new one removing another power will be introduced, they charged.
Immediately following the passing of the amendment, anti-reformists filed a barrage of petitions calling for the striking of the law. The High Court has never before struck down a Basic Law amendment, and it is hotly contested whether it even has this ability. For the first time in the institution’s history, all 15 justices are set to preside over the hearing.