Is­raeli right wins Supreme Court ap­point­ments fight

The Jewish Chronicle - - WORLD NEWS - BY ANSHEL PF­EF­FER

THE AP­POINT­MENT of four new jus­tices to Is­rael’s Supreme Court in the space of six months was al­ways go­ing to be a ma­jor event in Is­rael’s le­gal strato­sphere.

For months there has been a tug-ofwar be­tween Jus­tice Min­is­ter Ayelet Shaked and Supreme Court Pres­i­dent Miriam Naor over the iden­tity of the new jus­tices.

Min­is­ter Shaked has made no at­tempt to hide her am­bi­tion to shift the court right­wards, to­wards a more con­ser­va­tive and less in­ter­ven­tion­ist po­si­tion; while Pres­i­dent Naor, who is one of the four jus­tices reach­ing the re­tire­ment age of 70 this year, fought to pre­serve the court’s in­de­pen­dence.

The de­ci­sion last week by the Ju­di­cial Ap­point­ments Com­mit­tee has largely been seen as a vic­tory for Ms Shaked, who man­aged to put on the bench three rel­a­tively con­ser­va­tive jus­tices, favoured by the politi­cians. But was not a to­tal de­feat for the Supreme Court stal­warts, ei­ther.

Much of the at­ten­tion has been given to the fact that two of the new jus­tices, David Mintz and Yael Will­ner, are re­li­gious, and that Mr Mintz lives on a set­tle­ment.

But that does not nec­es­sar­ily mean their rulings can be pre­dicted — es­pe­cially not those of Mr Mintz, who is seen as an in­de­pen­dent. George Karra is also seen as an un­pre­dictable voice but is ex­pected to fit in with the pre­vail­ing at­mos­phere in the court. The arch-con­ser­va­tive in the new group is ex­pected to be Yosef El­ron, a vet­eran Haifa judge who is op­posed to ju­di­cial ac­tivism (when rulings tend to be based on per­sonal or po­lit­i­cal con­sid­er­a­tions rather than ex­ist­ing law).

But while Ms Shaked got two of her favoured can­di­dates, Mr Mintz and Mr El­ron, she was forced to com­pro­mise on Jus­tices Will­ner and Karra.

Pres­i­dent Naor, while only get­ting one of her favourites in, can at least be sat­is­fied that the new jus­tices are ex­pe­ri­enced judges.

In the past, many jus­tices seen as right wing have fallen into line on reach­ing the bench. The pres­i­dency, which is de­cided by se­nior­ity, will go later this year to Jus­tice Es­ther Hayut, a staunch in­ter­ven­tion­ist who can still rely on a like-minded ma­jor­ity among her col­leagues.

As the pres­i­dent de­ter­mines the iden­tity of the jus­tices who sit on each pe­ti­tion (very few hear­ings are held in front of the en­tire 15-jus­tice bench), it can be ex­pected that the court will con­tinue to hand down rel­a­tively lib­eral rulings and, when it sees fit, strike down laws voted on by the Knes­set.

As­sum­ing the right wing re­mains in power, this will have been just an­other bat­tle in the long war over the Supreme Court’s iden­tity and phi­los­o­phy.

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