Israel’s Top Court Overturns Netanyahu’s Judicial Oversight Law
Israel’s Supreme Court overturned a highly contested law aimed at weakening the justices’ own power in a loss to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition.
The court, sitting with all 15 justices for the first time ever, struck down by a vote of 8 toa law passed by Parliament in July that would have barred judges from voiding government decisions as “unreasonable.”
“This is a historic day — a tremendous public victory for those who seek democracy,” the liberal Movement for Quality Government in Israel said in a statement. “A government and ministers who sought to exempt themselves from the rule of law have been told thatThat is democracy. That there is a separation of powers.”
The closeness of the vote is an indication ofover the court’s authority.
The court held that “the amendment causes severe and unprecedented harm toas a democratic state.”
The decision will be effective immediately, said Barak Medina, a law professor at Hebrew University. Eight judges voted to overturn the law, and seven to keep it.
The law was approved as an amendment to a Basicwas the first in a number of judicial changes the government promised when it took office in late December 2022, a populist overhaul that split the nation, battered markets and drew criticism from the White House. Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets to protest the planned changes or support them.
The war ended those protests and shifted the nation’s attention to external threats. Butinternal divisions are still there.
Reasonableness is a broad — critics say blunt — instrument that the court has used to block cronyism, protect human rights and encouragerational decision-making. The court has other tools but this is seen as the most significant.
“The decision will block the attempt tothe judicial overhaul and it is to that the government acts according to the public interest, and not just their own,” Professor Medina said.
The court also held, by 12 to 15, that it has the authority “toBasic Laws, and to intervene in those rare and exceptional cases wherein the Knesset exceeds its constitutive authority,” the ruling, sent by the court, said.
The justices, two of whom will retire later this month, ruled as Israel’s nearly-three-month-old war with Hamason. Netanyahu’s Likud party assailed the court, saying it threatened national consensus at war. “The court’s decision is against the for unity, especially during wartime,” the party said.
The rulings underline tensions that have long existed in Israelistem from how a state that defines itself as Jewish manifests that identity and what its obligations are to non-Jews. While the nation’s political leadership has become more religious and nationalistic, the legal establishment has remained more liberal. The court’s protection of human and minority rights frustrates those on the right who think their votes should enable a shift in policy.
Israel has no constitution and noIt has a set of over the past three decades, the high court upon to measure constitutionality.
“Tonight the court ruled that there are unwritten principles, core values of democracy that limitsaid Medina.