Judicial reform architect and Religious Zionist Party MK Simcha Rothman is seeking to file a motion to disqualify Supreme Court President Esther Hayut from presiding over the reasonableness standard law hearing, and wants to argue the case himself instead of the Knesset legal advisor.
Knesset Legal Advisor Sagit Afik reportedly refused to file the motion, which Rothman sought because she had expressed bias on the matter after an unprecedented speech criticizing the judicial reform in mid-January.
"Anyone who reads the speech in its entirety will come to the clear conclusion that the opinion of the honorable Supreme Court president, Esther Hayut, is completely 'locked in,'" wrote Rothman.
Rothman, the chairman of the Knesset Constitution, Law, and Justice Committee, wrote a letter to Afik on Sunday stating that as a respondent to the petitions he intended to present his position for Hayut's disqualification himself.
"I am confident that regarding representing the Knesset and presenting the arguments regarding the validity of the law, including the correctness of the parliamentary procedures in the committee and the Knesset plenum with regard to its legislation, you will represent the Knesset competently and successfully as you have done in many cases in the past," wrote Rothman, but that he had a right to make his voice heard on the matter before the court.
As soon as the reasonableness law passed on July 24, petitions were filed to the court calling for the legislation's cancelation. The law, which restricted judicial review of government administrative decisions, was an amendment to a basic law, which the court has never before engaged with judicial review.
All 15 justices to preside over crucial reasonableness hearing
In light of the unprecedented sensitivity of the judicial reform law, the court made the historic decision to have all 15 justices preside over the September 12 hearing - including Hayut.
An August 10 petition was by the NGO Lavi calling for Hayut to recuse herself over her bias was rejected by the court on August 13. Lavi had also argued that Hayut had made her opinion known on the reform, but the court said that real bias had not been demonstrated, as Hayut had made broad remarks. It had also been noted by the court that the complaints should first have been addressed to Hayut herself.
"In light of the seriousness of President Hayut's statements and her refusal to disqualify herself on her own initiative, and even following petitions submitted in this regard, there is no choice for me to submit the disqualification request," Rothman said Sunday.