JNS, Jan. 22, 2023
“How do we bridge the gap between the law and what is right? Finding an answer to this question, discovering the secret … ‘spice’ is perhaps one of the greatest tasks that lies before us as judges.”
Friday morning brought the first piece of good news from Israel’s Supreme Court in years. Yediot Ahronot’s top headline declared that Supreme Court President Esther Hayut intends to resign if the Knesset passes Justice Minister Yariv Levin’s judicial reform package.
Hayut’s stewardship of the court over the past six years has been disgraceful and destructive to both the court and the State of Israel. The Hayut court dropped even the pretense of judiciousness. Hayut cast the court on a course of ideological radicalism and politicization that has no parallel anywhere in the world.
Hayut’s radicalism was well known in the legal community. She wasn’t then-justice minister Ayelet Shaked’s first choice for the court’s top slot. But Shaked had no say in the matter. Israel’s current judicial selection process protects justices from accountability to the public and its elected representatives. Supreme Court justices have a veto over nominees to the court, so everyone who gets the nod from the Judicial Selection Committee, including ostensibly conservative jurists, must embrace the organizational culture and values of the sitting justices.
The justices also control who serves as president. Under the current selection system, the president is the senior associate justice when the sitting president reaches retirement age. By controlling who gets appointed when, the justices are able to predetermine the identity of the president. In 2017, Shaked tried but failed to cancel the seniority selection process, and Hayut was promoted.
Outside observers were exposed to Hayut’s radicalism immediately before she took office. She set it out in a speech before the Bar Association in September 2017. Not one for understatement, Hayut compared herself and her colleagues to God. … Source