Israel's Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar announced on Tuesday that he would seek the Judicial Appointments Committee's approval to hold public hearings that would be broadcast live with future candidates for Supreme Court justice.
Sa’ar said that he will be submitting the idea for the committee’s approval with the support of Supreme Court President Esther Hayut, after discussing the idea with her. He said that he and Hayut have a “shared perspective regarding the importance of transparency” in the selection process.
The proposal will be submitted to the committee, which is composed of Supreme Court justices, cabinet ministers, Knesset members and representatives of the Israel Bar Association, on April 11. According to the proposal, a subcommittee that conducts preliminary interviews with candidates for the Supreme Court would hold public interviews with the candidates. This would then be broadcast on television. Currently, those interviews are held in private.
“The public component of the selection process and its transparency would substantially contribute to increasing the public’s trust in the selection process for Supreme Court justices,” Sa’ar said. “The Supreme Court’s status, the fact that its decisions constitute precedent that bind the entire judicial system and the scope of its work on issues of public importance establish the need for a public dimension as part of the selection process.”
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Sa’ar’s proposal originated with a bill that Knesset member Zvi Hauser attempted to pass in 2019 based on the American system in which candidates for the Supreme Court appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
When he was Supreme Court president, Justice Aharon Barak argued that members of the Judicial Appointments Committee should refrain from examining the specific positions of candidates for the Supreme Court on legal questions and instead focus on the quality of their past court rulings.