Israel's new dictator
In an earlier post, I reported on the Supreme Court overturning a law passed by the Knesset to deal with our illegal immigrants, and suggested that the Knesset ought to overturn the law. Now, our new dictator, unelected attorney general Yehuda Weinstein, has decided that the Knesset cannot overturn the Supreme Court. Yehuda Weinstein is now the sole arbiter of what laws the Knesset is allowed to pass. This is 'democracy'? Pathetic!
Interior Minister Gidon Sa'ar (Likud) told the committee that he supports legislation that would enable the Knesset to veto court rulings that knock down the Knesset's law - like the decisions that disqualified the Infiltrators Law, twice.
In response, Deputy AG Dina Zilber said that AG Yehuda Weinstein will oppose such legislation.
In Israel, the Attorney General doubles as the Legal Advisor for the Government and can basically decide the government's policy on legislation even if a majority of ministers holds the opposite view.
"It is convenient to go to a court that adopts your views,” Zilber chided Sa'ar. “But it is not a rubber stamp. In is one of the regime's most valued assets. It is fine to criticize it, and the court is not monolithic. The body that gave the court the authority to strike down laws is the Knesset and therefore, there is no reason to be angry about it.”
Zilber added that the AG “would not lend his hand to diminishing the authority of the High Court.”So does this mean that the Knesset can take away from the court the authority to strike down laws? Well, no, because Ms. Zilber is incorrect. The court abrogated that authority to itself (in a case in which I played a small role when I worked in the government nearly 20 years ago) by striking down certain provisions of Israel's 1995 Investment Advisers law, which it said conflicted with the Basic Law - Human Dignity and Freedom. By choosing to invalidate only part of the law (the transition provisions) in an area that was not of great concern to the most of the public (the imposition of a licensing requirement for investment advisers), the court managed to establish the precedent of invalidating laws under the country's radar screen - a power it continues to expand to this day. Now, with the help of the country's Leftist Attorney General, the court is assured that it will not even have to deal with laws that challenge its rulings.
What recourse does the Knesset have? The only recourse I can think of is to replace Weinstein with someone more open when his term expires. Weinstein has a six-year term. There's a long way to go. He took office in 2010....