The Current Controversy Surrounding Israeli Judicial Reform

Tuesday, February 14, 7:00 pm

Via Zoom – co sponsored by Am Yisrael

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Israel’s new government has declared its intention to reform the judiciary. The plan is to limit the scope of judicial review of governmental actions and legislation by the Supreme Court, change the system for the appointment of judges, and redefine the role of the Attorney General and government legal advisors. The declared aim of the proposed reforms is restore a proper balance among the branches of government, reinforce parliamentary sovereignty and majority rule, and limit the power of unelected judges and government legal advisors to interfere in the legislative functions of the public’s democratically elected representatives in the absence of a written constitution granting or governing such powers. Opponents of the reforms argue that the proposals will undermine the checks and balances among the branches of government, grant overwhelming, unchecked power to the government, and threaten civil and minority rights.
In this lecture, we will examine the structure of Israeli parliamentary democracy, the role of the Attorney General and government legal advisors, the history of the development of Israel’s constitutional regime and of judicial review, and the system of checks and balances among the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government. On the basis of that examination, we will address the strengths and weaknesses of the government’s proposals for reform.

Avinoam Sharon is an editor and translator at the Israeli Supreme Court Project of the Cardozo School of Law and is Editor-in-Chief of the Israeli Supreme Court Blog. He is a graduate of Columbia University, studied law at the Hebrew University, clerked for the President of Israel’s National Labor Court, was a graduate fellow of the Consortium in Jewish Studies and Legal Theory, and served as a senior military attorney in the IDF. He also holds an M.A. in Talmud from JTS, and was ordained by the Schechter Rabbinical Seminary.