Daniel Friedmann
Photo: Yaron Brenner

Friedmann alarms leftists

Justice minister under criticism because he threatens Supreme Court's leftist hegemony

While the Roman statesman and writer Cicero viewed pirates as enemies of mankind (Hostis Humanis Generis,) we can assume that Supreme Court judges and their associates view Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann as no less than the enemy of the judicial race.


As far as we know, Friedmann does not use his free time to carry out criminal plots aboard ships at sea, yet in the eyes of the local judicial dignitaries he is apparently a severe piratical hazard that must quickly be gotten rid off before he is able to bring the entire legal system down.


When we see former Deputy Chief Justice Mishael Cheshin becoming jealous of the Saudis and threatening to cut off the arm of the justice minister, and when the Supreme Court's guardians argue that soon enough we'll have to mourn the premature death of the judicial and ideological apple of their eyes – it means that for them all hope has apparently been lost, and therefore they have no choice but to declare an all-out war against he who threatens to destroy the "judicial temple."


But why is the judicial guard so furious? In fact, an objective examination of most of Friedmann's moves so far makes it appear that alongside minor reforms, which are very far from shaking up the system, he indeed worked to advance several fundamental and highly important initiatives, although most of them are still at nascent stages.


Annulling the seniority-based system for appointing chief justices, the seven-year limit on their term in office (the only reform so far that passed all legislation phases,) and the "privatization" of some of the State Prosecutor's Office's legal services, among others, are not reforms that constitute fundamental changes.


However, initiating legislation that would limit the High Court's constitutional authority to disqualify laws, the renewed legislation of the Intifada Law annulled by the High Court, or initiating laws that would entrench judicial limits and curb the right to appear before the High Court – these initiatives do constitute an attempt to introduce substantial structural change.


Yet even if not all of Friedmann's initiatives are necessary, he deserves praise for his attempt to initiate changes in what too many perceive, in grave error, as the holy of holies that must not be touched.


'Disastrous potential'

Yet the Friedmann reforms, in and of themselves, are apparently not meaningful enough to constitute the only reason for the sense of terrible unease that has recently spread among many figures in the legal world. When members of the legal community ceaselessly cry out against this awful crisis, one becomes rather suspicious that at least some of them are motivated by other reasons that are hidden from view.


And this reason is the grave fear that Supreme Court judges may lose the power to continue doing whatever they wish, in line with their ideological worldview. Apparently, they view even a slight breach of their power as having the "disastrous potential" to erode their hegemony. This is where their attempt to do away with any change, whether large or small, comes from.


Of course, those horrified that this hegemony will be lost forever are not only High Court sympathizers from the academia and legal world, but also many members of a very certain political camp who realize that the High Court's ability to support their ideological positions may be seriously undermined.


Jewish sages have said that when a person commits an offense and repeats it, he feels it has become permissible. And so, the ongoing takeover of powers has become permissible in the eyes of our judges, while it slowly boils over to moral issues and trickles down to Knesset and government decisions – and so, a broad legal estate is created able to address and support many of the ideological notions judges hold dear.


Perhaps the subject of the latest convention held at the Van Leer Institute, "Supreme Rule", is more than just symbolic. And so, after Cheshin charged during the convention that Friedmann is acting like King Achashverosh, and former Supreme Court Justice Dalia Dorner declared that "these days we see the executive taking over the Supreme Court" – we would do well to wonder who is really playing the role of Achashverosh in this story and who aspires, and continues to aspire, for "supreme rule."


Mostly, we should wonder who it was who has taken over executive and legislature powers that do not belong to them, while at the same time expressing shock that they are being robbed by thieves and pirates.


The writer is a philosophy lecturer 


פרסום ראשון: 08.28.07, 07:34
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