Kabari99-Israel’s Supreme Court said on Wednesday it would hear a case challenging the constitutionality of the judicial reform law earlier this week, raising the possibility of a showdown between the court and the government.
Nongovernmental organizations and others have filed petitions asking Israel’s top court to overturn the law,
which is similar to a constitutional amendment that removes the court’s power to overturn government decisions.
To reject such a quasi-constitutional law is something that has never existed and therefore the Supreme Court, now under public pressure,
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The court’s decision to hold the trial does not mean canceling the question law that is currently shaking the country.
Such a scenario would set the government against the judiciary
and could lead to a serious constitutional crisis if the government ignores the court’s decision.
The Court therefore set a preliminary hearing,
to be heard by one judge, for September.
The court may then decide to refer the case to an additional panel which can include as many as 11 judges.
Eliad Shraga, head of the Movement for Quality Government of Israel, one of the groups that submitted the petition,
said the group was ready to defend Israeli democracy from what they called a coup.
“We will continue to demonstrate and fight and on every stage until the threat is gone!” he said.
Hundreds of thousands of Israelis have been protesting for more than six months against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s
coalition plan to make sweeping changes to the justice system.
Unable to stop the law through protests, strikes, and threats by military reservists to refuse to serve, opponents now hope the supreme court will step in.
Israel’s Minister of National Security Itamar Ben-Gvir, a leader of the country’s right wing, said that if the court overturned the law it would be an “attempted coup d’état.”
It is unclear when the court will respond to the petition. The next step is a preliminary hearing before a judge,
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and the court may then decide to take the case to an additional bench to make a final decision. Scholars say they are confident the court will not simply dismiss the case.
The bill, passed Monday by Israel’s Knesset,
is the first in a broader package of laws aimed at limiting the powers of the courts and giving lawmakers more control.
Netanyahu’s coalition says the court is controlled by activist,
liberal judges and that the law and it also seeks to restore the right balance of power.
Opponents charge that the law will undermine the court’s role as a checker of executive and legislative powers and will undermine Israel’s liberal democracy.
The law passed Monday is an amendment to one of Israel’s basic laws,
which was passed piecemeal and is the closest thing to Israel’s constitution. Although Israel’s Supreme Court has never invalidated the constitution,
it has declared it has the power to do so.
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Legal scholars say the petitioners had to prove several things in order for the court to overturn the law.
Opponents must prove that the law undermines Israel’s core values as a Jewish and democratic state.
They could also try to prove that there are deficiencies in the legislative process.
The Israel Civil Democracy Movement and Darkenu, two non-governmental organizations that petitioned the court,
said the law was a “severe and permanent change to the essence of Israeli democracy,
which will dismantle the system of checks and balances necessary for a democratic regime.”
Yoav Dotan, a law professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said that, at first glance, the law appears to be something the Knesset is allowed to do.