Friedmann says favors limits on Supreme Court's judicial review
Justice Minister says wants to limit court's ability to reverse laws, grant Knesset right to revise overturned laws
Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann supports restricting the Supreme Court's ability to overturn laws passed by the Knesset, a meeting of the ministerial committee for legislation heard from the minister Sunday. Friedmann also said he favors granting the parliament authority to revise laws overturned by the court.
The ministers were discussing two bills dealing with the court's authority to invalidate laws, including one submitted by the incoming tourist minister, MK Esterina Tartman (Yisrael Beiteinu), which called for removing the authority of all courts, including the Supreme Court, to overturn a law. The bill has the support of more than 50 MKs from all factions.
"The reason that Tartman's bill garnered such widespread support from Knesset members is tied to the Supreme Court's having essentially determined for itself, until now, the scope of its authority to intervene in Knesset legislation, and over the years has even, to a great extent, expanded its own authority to deal with the issue," Friedmann told the committee.
Friedmann has instructed the Justice Ministry's legislative department to formulate a government-sponsored bill within a week expressing his position on the matter. The bill is due to be brought before the ministerial legislative committee for approval in a week.
The justice minister has declared his support for the Canadian model of judicial authority to strike down laws. According to the model, courts have the right to invalidate parliamentary legislation if they view it as impinging on human rights protected by the constitution, but the parliament has the authority to revise the legislation after the court ruling, thereby renewing the law's validity. The revised legislation can generally be passed in ordinary legislative proceedings, and must explicitly state that it applies despite what is written in the constitution.
If the legislature does nothing, then the verdict remains in place, according to the Canadian model. Other constitutional models, by contrast, require the parliament to actively approve the court decision for the law to be overturned.
Friedmann met with Tartman Thursday to discuss the bill, and said he thinks that such a fundamental issue should be dealt with by means of a government-sponsored bill. Tartman acceded to Friedmann's request to adjust her bill to that of the government-sponsored one that is being formulated.
Friedmann's proposal is his first significant move since being appointed justice minister a month ago. Previous ministers have generally avoided initiating legislation that would restrict the judiciary's constitutional authority. However, Friedmann's initiative is similar to the Justice Ministry's proposed Basic Law on Legislation, which was written last year, during Haim Ramon's tenure as justice minister.
The proposed Basic Law expressly described the judiciary's authority in overturning legislation, saying that only an expanded panel of nine Supreme Court justices could do so. The Canadian model, by contrast, allows all Canadian federal courts to strike down laws. The Canadian model also allows an overturned law to be reinstated with only one round of voting, as opposed to the proposed Basic Law, which requires the law be reinstated by a 61-MK majority in three rounds of voting, or a 70-MK majority in each round once a certain amount of time has passed.
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