Daily Israel Report

Supreme Court Charged with Illegally Sending Parents to Jail

Israel Law Center:Supreme Court has no authority to issue orders against private citizens, but only against gov't bodies or their representatives.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 6/20/2010, 12:48 PM / Last Update: 6/20/2010, 1:05 PM

Israel news photo

The Israel Law Center says Supreme Court has no authority to issue orders against private individuals, but only against government bodies or their representatives.

The Israel Law Center (ILC) filed a “habeas corpus” writ against the Prison Service and Israel Police on Sunday for holding the 43 fathers from Emanuel unlawfully. The suit claims that the Supreme Court overstepped its authority in ordering the parents to be jailed, in that it is permitted to issue orders against government bodies or their representatives, but not against private individuals.

Asked why the suit was not filed against the High Court itself for exceeding its authorities, ILC Director Nitsana Darshan-Leitner explained to Israel National News, “That was also an option, but the immediate priority was to file suit against those who are holding these citizens illegally – namely, the jails and the police.” 

She further explained that nowhere in the law is it expressly written that the Court is the address for perceived illegal decisions that it makes by itself - "although we wrote in the petition that we expect the Court to exercise judicial review over itself in this case. The High Court of Justice is not permitted to assume the authority of issuing orders against individuals.”

Latest Update: The Supreme Court turned down the suit, saying it would not hear appeals against its rulings. The decision on the request to keep the mothers out of jail will be made on Tuesday.

The High Court sentenced the parents to jail for having aided in the violation of a previous ruling ordering the integration of a Hassidic-religious girls’ school in Emanuel. Petitioners, including an organization called Noar Kahalacha, claimed that the school accepted students based on their ethnic background, discriminating against Sephardim – while the parents said that the school’s sole standard was religious, and that 27 percent of the students were in fact Sephardic.

Noar Kahalacha is a grantee of the New Israel Fund, an organization that has been accused of being downright anti-Israel for its funding of most of the Israeli NGOs that testified against Israel in the Goldstone Committee, among other anti-Israel groups.

The Court, headed by Justice Edmond Levy, did not accept the parents’ position, and when they refused to send daughters to the “integrated” school, he ordered them to spend two weeks in jail. It is now (Sunday) considering a request to exempt the mothers from going to jail; all sides in the court case agree that this request should be accepted.

Taxi Company Precedent - Not Acceptable
The original ruling ordering the parents to jail cited a previous District Court ruling in which taxi drivers were served with contempt of court orders for not enforcing a ruling forbidding taxi companies from taking passengers from Ben Gurion International Airport. The ILC said that this precedent is not relevant, in that the District Court is permitted to serve individuals with orders of this nature, while the High Court of Justice is not.

“The High Court of Justice was created to defend citizens from the authorities,” the petition states, “and it must be limited to this. Defense of a citizen from another citizen is reserved for the criminal and civil courts.”`                      

“The High Court expanded the meaning of the law defining its authorities to its most extreme extent,” Darshan-Leitner said, “but there is no way to explain the law in a way that will grant it authorities that the law explicitly did not give it. Private citizens are not obligated to follow rulings issued against governmental authorities – even if the ruling comes from the Supreme Court. If such rulings are not implemented, there are various ways of enforcing them – but for the High Court to issue rulings that are not in its jurisdiction is not one of them.”