Israel Supreme Court to Review Bill Allowing MKs to Resurrect Laws Struck Down by Court

Supreme Court President Grunis and Knesset Speaker Rivlin discussed a bill containing a draft of a Basic Law on Legislation at their first working meeting together.

Israel's Supreme Court will review a proposed bill that would give the Knesset the power to override the court after the court strikes down laws as unconstitutional, Supreme Court President Asher Grunis and Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin agreed on Sunday.

The two made the agreement at their first working meeting together, during which they discussed the bill that Rivlin and Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman hope to pass during the Knesset's upcoming session. Grunis and the other justices have major reservations over the proposed legislation, which was drafted by the Justice Ministry.

Justice Asher Grunis - Tomer Appelbaum - 29112011
Tomer Appelbaum

The bill consists of a draft of a Basic Law on Legislation that would regulate the relationship between the court and the Knesset. Israel has no constitution, but the Knesset has passed a number of basic laws over the years that have constitutional status.

Grunis said at the meeting on Sunday that he would bring the draft of the proposed bill to the other Supreme Court justices for discussion. The court's position on the bill will be presented to the Knesset before the bill is put to a vote during the Knesset's summer session.

Rivlin said on Sunday that he was convinced of the need for regulating the relationship between the Knesset and the Supreme Court in the wake of past clashes.

A Basic Law on Legislation is in the interests of both the judiciary and the legislature, he said, adding, “I am convinced that it is not permissible to ignore the opinion of the judicial authority on this matter.”

Rivlin and Grunis agreed that they would meet again on the issue during the Knesset’s upcoming session.

Over the years, proposals have been made to create a Basic Law on Legislation, including one by a public committee headed by Neeman when he was a lawyer in private practice. That proposal, issued in 2004, would require 70 MKs to override a Supreme Court ruling that legislation is unconstitutional. That proposal would limit the duration of laws reinstated by an override to five years.

Neeman has not explained the differences between the basic law currently being proposed and the one he supported in 2004.

Last week, Grunis bitterly criticized the Justice Ministry's current draft, which was written without consultation with the Supreme Court and released just before Passover.