Sunday, September 07, 2008

'Supreme Court is Too Powerful'

Hillel Fendel

Controversy in the Cabinet abounds. In addition to the proposal to attempt to entice Jews to leave Judea and Samaria, the government will also discuss this morning (Sunday) an attempt by Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann to restrict the Supreme Court's authorities. Friedmann wishes to allow the Court to void only Knesset laws that, in the opinion of a two-thirds majority of the nine Court justices considering the matter, negate a Basic Law. The Knesset would then be able to re-pass the law with an absolute majority of the legislature (61 MKs). The Court would then be able to re-consider the law only five years later.

Sentiments on both sides of the issue are running high.

The Supreme Court has often been accused of runnning a judicial dictatorship, especially in light of former Chief Justice Aharon Barak's determination that "the land is filled with the law," implying that everything is justiciable. Columnist Evelyn Gordon summed up much of the public criticism heaped upon Barak over the years by writing two years ago that he makes decisions "not by interpreting the law, but by creating new laws in the Knesset's stead."

"The question is whether every issue has to be in the purview of the Supreme Court," Minister Friedmann has explained. "I believe that for everything to be justiciable, with no oversight, is destructive."

On the other hand, Labor Party ministers Yitzchak Herzog and Shalom Simchon have asked that Friedmann's proposal be removed from the Cabinet agenda. At least two Kadima Party ministers - Bar-On and Sheetrit - also oppose the debate, saying that it should not be raised at this juncture. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has expressed guarded support for Friedmann's proposal.

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