Editor: Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld, President, American Center for Democracy (ACD)
See the sources for this article and more research in the Additional Reading section
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
PREVIEW: Israeli Supreme Court Violates Democratic Norms – Ken’s Thought of the Week.
In the recent weekly Torah passage of “Yitro” (Exodus 18:13-27), Moses’s father-in-law, observed his son-in-law exhausting himself as he tried to judge the problems and disputes of the Israelites. They were wandering in the desert after their release from 200 years of slavery by the Egyptian Pharaoh. Moses was both the leader of the Israelites and their chief Justice. Yitro (Jethro) worried that Moses would consume himself while maintaining these two jobs. He made the following observations:
2) Moses had no deputy helping him at the Court, and only one deputy, Aaron, helping with his leadership responsibilities.
3) The people he served had to wait all day to see him. Therefore, Yitro proposed several common-sense managerial solutions:
a) Moses should hear only the “major” and most “difficult” cases.
b) Lower courts should hear all the cases first.
b) Moses should appoint judges based on talent and integrity.
So, how are the Israeli courts doing 3,300 years later?
1) Instead of allowing the political leader, the Prime Minister, to nominate justices, as in the US, the Israeli Supreme Court (ISC) maintains a veto over the selection of new justices.2) The Court allows anyone to petition it without forcing the plaintiffs to seek redress in lower courts, as in the US.
3) The Court allows any plaintiffs to petition the Court, even if they have no legal standing, which America disallows.4) The Supreme Court rejects candidates who believe in traditional Jewish values, consequently failing to appoint the best judges to the job.
5) The Supreme Court chooses to listen to political cases, instead of focusing on issues that are “difficult” or “major”, as suggested by Yitro in the Torah.
6) The Supreme Court does not maintain equal protection under the law. It often discriminates against Jews, who represent 80% of the population, in favor of Muslim Arabs, who represent 20% of the population.
So what should the Israeli government do to fix its out-of-control Supreme Court, which has accumulated more power than any other democratic court in the world?
The Israeli government should insist on the following seven changes:
1) The Prime Minister, the elected executive, should nominate Supreme Court Justices, subject to Knesset approval.
2) Plaintiffs must seek redress in lower Courts before appealing to the Supreme Court.
3) Justices appointed to the Supreme Court should be the best and the brightest, not the most politically left-leaning.
4) The Supreme Court must maintain equal protection under the law and stop systematically discriminating against Jews.
5) The Supreme Court cannot be allowed to routinely reject the laws passed by the elected Knesset by over-ruling them.
6) The Supreme Court cannot routinely seek to criminalize elected politicians with bogus charges that impede their ability to rule, as they were elected to do.
7) The Supreme Court should immediately stop appointing Attorneys General and other legal advisors throughout the government. That is the Prime-Minister’s role.
All these changes will undoubtedly be contentious, but the time has come for the Israeli Supreme Court to move from being an embarrassing exception to Western democratic rule. Israel’s future as a thriving democracy depends on it!
Shemot – Exodus – Chapter 18 (Parshah Yitro) – Tanakh Online – Torah – Bible – Chabad.org
‘Supreme Court discriminates against Jews, settlers’ – ערוץ 7 – IsraelNationalNews.com