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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Israel's Judicial tyranny

Caroline Glick takes on the Supreme Court in an important article for understanding the role that the court has taken for itself in Israeli politics, which is critical to understanding the news coming out of here. This touches on some of the issues I discussed this morning here. It does not seem likely that Chief Justice Barak's retirement will change it in any material fashion.

Sunday morning Israel Radio reported that a delegation of judges met with Justice Minister Haim Ramon and demanded that he defend them from what they consider to be unprecedented media attacks against them.

The meeting with Ramon took place on the same day the Supreme Court went a step further in its usurpation of the power of the people's elected representatives in the Knesset to set the law of the land. In yet another breathtaking act of judicial legislation, the Court Sunday demanded that the Knesset show cause why its 2004 law permitting the operation of privately run prison facilities does not breach the Basic Laws regarding individual rights and the delegation of powers by the government.

In so acting, the Court effectively named itself the ultimate arbiter of the wisdom of Israel's economic policies as set by the people's elected leaders in the government and the Knesset. This it did on the basis of a petition from a group of law teachers who in any normally functioning democracy would have no standing before the Court because they are neither directly nor indirectly impacted by the law.

The justices' demand for Ramon's protection from criticism also came the same day that Justice Ayala Procaccia overturned the rulings of two lower courts to free a 14 year-old girl from Hebron who was arrested last week while protesting in Hebron. Procaccia ordered that the girl be kept in jail until the completion of proceedings against her.

This is the same Justice Procaccia who last summer ordered that three other girls aged 13, 14 and 16, Moria Goldberg, Chaya Belogrodsky and Pnina Ashkenazi be held in jail until the completion of proceedings against them for their "crimes" of protesting the expulsion of Israelis from Gaza. They were held in jail for three months even though the maximum sentence for the charges they were being held for was a monetary fine. At the time, Procaccia announced her agreement with the State prosecutors' view that the girls constituted a "danger to the society because of [their] ideological motivation."

It is unclear whose criticism the judges want to be protected from. Perhaps the judges sought Ramon's protection from their own colleagues on the bench. Last month in an interview with Haaretz, retiring Justice Mishael Cheshin had this to say about Chief Justice Aharon Barak's view of human rights: "He is ready for 30, 50 people to be blown up - but we will have human rights."

Of Barak's view of the Court's oversight of the Knesset Cheshin said, "For Barak, if the Knesset passes a law by a majority of a hundred to two, he can come and assert that the law is annulled."

Cheshin attacked his colleagues on the Court collectively when he strongly hinted that his fellow justices' political views were what kept them from overturning Attorney-General Menachem Mazuz's decision last year not to indict then prime minister Ariel Sharon and his son Gilad on corruption charges. Of Mazuz's decision to close the investigation of the so-called Greek Island affair Cheshin said, "I can say only that when someone gets $600,000 and the promise of $2 million more for surfing the Internet, [Gilad Sharon's payments from businessman David Appel] one has to be a fool to think that he really received the money for that work."

Of his colleagues' decision not to overturn Mazuz's decision he noted, "If Sharon had stood trial, there would have been no disengagement [from Gaza and northern Samaria].

Read the whole thing.


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