Former Supreme Court president Meir Shamgar has signed a public petition against Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann's proposal to limit or abolish the Supreme Court's power to overturn Knesset legislation.

The petition was also signed by several other public figures who, like Shamgar, were active in drafting the Israel Democracy Institute's proposal for a constitution.

"Abolishing substantive judicial review endangers the freedoms that have been legislated to date," said the petition. "Such a proposal does not advance the rule of law, but moves it backward."

The meaning of abolishing judicial review, it continued, is that "Israeli citizens would lose the fundamental freedoms granted to them in the Basic Laws any time a majority of Knesset members so decides. We oppose these proposals and believe that instead, it is necessary to move forward on enacting a full constitution that will ensure all the basic human rights and their protection."

The petition will officially be published Friday. Its other signatories include major legal figures such as Professors Mordechai Kremnitzer, Yedidya Stern, Avi Ben-Bassat, Yaron Ezrahi and Asher Arian, as well as former MK Dan Meridor and Israel Democracy Institute President Arik Carmon.

Kremnitzer told Haaretz that not only would Friedmann's proposal reduce the Supreme Court's authority, but it could "constitute an opening for additional initiatives to impair the court's powers."

The issue, he added, is not the scope of these powers, but "how effective the protection of individual and minority rights is."

He said that "The justice minister's proposal is a direct threat to minority rights. I believe that normal people would not agree to turn the question of infringing on their rights over to the majority's decision."

Kremnitzer, who is himself considered a candidate for the Supreme Court and has therefore been keeping a l ow public profile recently, said that the decision to launch a public campaign was sparked by the magnitude of the threat.

Shamgar also generally refrains from speaking out on public issues, so his decision to head the list of signatories to the petition was unusual.