I must disagree with the members of the Rabbinic Council (“The Rabbinic Council of Boulder Aligns With Israeli Protesters Against Judicial Reform” boulderjewishnews.org May 9, 2023). The Israeli Supreme Court and the Knesset do not currently serve as a check and balance on each other. As things stand now, the Court is clearly in control. Sitting justices have a veto over the appointment of new judges and have rejected qualified candidates because of differences in ideology. In the absence of a written constitution, or a complete set of Basic Laws which were supposed to act as a constitution, the Court has arrogated too much power to itself. The Knesset has no mechanism for challenging the Court’s decision that a law is “unreasonable.” Business owners have a hard time challenging rulings made based on the justices’ understanding of the “intent” implied in a contract (rather than the actual wording of the document). The Court has even ordered the dismantling of Jewish communities in the area of Judea and Samaria put under Israeli control by the Oslo Accords based on claims that the communities were built on privately owned Palestinian land, without requiring proof of ownership from the claimants! Clearly, judicial reform is needed to address these issues.
That does not, however, mean that the proposed (now on hold) reform was the proper course of action. Instead of replacing judges on the Judicial Selection Committee with MK’s (Members of Parliament), the committee could be restructured by eliminating trial judges from the committee (to avoid undue influence over attorneys seeking to please the arbiters before whom they will argue their cases) or a system could be instituted whereby the Selection Committee becomes a Nominating Committee and nominated candidates must be approved by vote of the Knesset before they can be seated on the bench.
Yet, I have to admit, allowing the Knesset to override a Court’s striking a law from the books with a simple majority (61 votes) would give the ruling coalition too much power over the Court. However, if the votes of 75 or 80 MK’s were required for an override, the Coalition would have to convince some members of the Opposition to concur, so that overturning a Court ruling would be a more accurate reflection of the views expressed by the voters on Election Day.
Toby F. Block