Friedmann under fire for plans to cut court power

Labor warns of coalition crisis as justice minister considers bill to limit court's authority on security and budget matters.

beinisch 224.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
beinisch 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Justice Minister Daniel Freidmann came under fire Friday for his plans to limit the authority of the Supreme Court, with Labor warning of a coalition crisis. Friedmann is considering changing the court's appointment procedures and is also weighing a bill that would severely limit the powers of the court on matters relating to government decisions in the political, security and budget arenas. "In the government's platform, it pledges to avoid harming the court," Cabel told Army Radio, adding that Labor would "execute the veto power it possesses, in accordance with coalition agreements, to implement this principle." "The advancement of (Friedmann's) legislation will without a doubt lead to a coalition crisis," continued Cabel. Labor MK Shelly Yacimovich said that Justice Minister's plan to prevent the court from discussing security and budget issues would "severely damage democracy and give the ruling authorities total power over Israel's citizens." "It seems as though Friedmann is determined to destroy the Supreme Court, and all those that hold the country dear must oppose him," added Yacimovich, Israel Radio reported. Earlier Friday, retired Supreme Court justice Dalia Dorner lashed out at the justice minister, saying that his plans to bring political appointments to the justice establishment would "set the court back 60 years". "If the public doesn't want the ability to petition the court against the ruling authorities, it won't have a court. If the court changes and appoints people for political reasons the public will have no one to turn to," Dorner told Army Radio. Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch slammed the justice minister for his "attempts to hinder the moves" of the court. Speaking at a conference of the Association for Civil Justice in Herzliya on Thursday night, Beinisch also attacked the Knesset, saying that legislation did not address crucial problems in Israel. "A Martian tourist landing here would believe that Israel's only problem is the Supreme Court taking control of…the system and claiming sovereignty as its own," Beinisch said. The Supreme Court president went on to call Friedmann's proposed bills "superficial," saying that they came down like a "flash flood" without allowing public debate. She said the claim that the court was trying to seize authority from the Knesset was baseless and misleading. In response, Friedmann said, "In the judge's eyes, the only legitimate form of intervention is 'more power to them.'"