Two Likud Knesset members are expected to present a new bill which is sure to strain the already tense relations between the House and the legal system further: They would like to give the Knesset veto power over Supreme Court nominations.
Ynet learned Wednesday that MKs Yariv Levin and Zeev Elkin have drafted legislation which proposes that the Knesset's Constitution, Law and Justice Committee have the authority to vet – and if need be veto - Supreme Court candidates.
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According to the bill, every candidate would be subjected to a public hearing, during which he will be asked "about his legal and constitutional views, his personal contribution to legal thought, his views about law, justice and the necessary balance between various values and the separation of authorities."
Following the hearing, the Knesset's Justice Committee will rule on the candidacy. Should it veto the judge before it, he or she will not be eligible for a Supreme Court seat. Should the committee approve the candidacy, the process would be deferred to the Judicial Selection Committee for further deliberation.
Today, the Judicial Selection Committee is the only body which vets judges named for the Supreme Court.
Levin and Elkin said the law would also apply to the vetting process of naming the Supreme Court chief justice and his or her deputy.
The bill's brief explained that it aims to "put in place the procedure of public hearing for candidate vying for a Supreme Court seat, as well as for its presidency and vice presidency… in a manner which well allow for full public transparency regarding candidates who might find themselves serving in Israel's highest judicial authority.
"This will allow for the de facto implementation of the principle of transparency in public service… which today is lacking, despite the great importance of these nominations."
In the name of transparency?As for the topics candidates would be asked to address, according to the brief, they were chosen "due to their extraordinary importance, in light of the Supreme Court's position not only as the highest judicial and appellate instance, but also as the High Court of Justice."
The new system would "allow the committee to introduce to the court different state of mind and allow them to influence the legal system."
Setting the Justice Committee's authority in the matter by law, would "reinstate the balance between the various state authorities – which virtually does not exists when in comes to selecting judges," the brief concluded.
Levin, who heads the Knesset's House Committee, said that the bill "will break the radical leftist elite's hold on the legal system and restore the public and Knesset's sovereignty over democratic life in Israel. Those who see themselves fit to annul legislation should be subject to public scrutiny through a democratic and transparent process."
The bill, he added, also aims "to put an end to the Supreme Court's 'buddy system' of appointments and stop the nominations of judges with post-Zionist agenda."
Levin added the bill was an urgent one, as Supreme Court President Dorit Beinish's term on the bench in nearing its end and her successor has yet to be named.
Coalition Chairman Elkin added that the new bill is meant to ensure the public's involvement in the judges' selection process.
The bill has already evoked furor in the legal system. A senior legal expert told Ynet that "This is a delusional proposal. These Knesset members are apparently trying to eliminate democracy and force politicians into the Supreme Court. The first rule of democracy is separation of authorities and they are trying to eliminate that."
Supreme Court sources said the move is seen as an attempt to infringe on the court's independence: "It seems these politicians are drunk with power and are under the impression that they can use their power on everything… Having politicians on the Judicial Selection Committee is no longer enough for them – they now want to have a say on the composition of the Bench.
"This is an anti-democratic proposal that must be nipped in the bud."
A source on the Bench told Ynet that "It seems Knesset members are trying to eliminate one of the most important institutions in Israel by trying to forcibly introduce politics into the inner sanctum of the Judiciary.
"This bill infringes on the very fabric of democracy," he continued. "It is unheard of that every MK could try and pass a bill meant solely to compromise the legal system's independence."
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