The Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved Sunday a bill proposed by National Union Chairman MK Yaakov Katz (Ketzaleh) that could determine who replaces Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch upon her retirement in February.
If passed by the Knesset, the bill could mean that Beinisch will be replaced by Judge Asher Grunis, and not by Judge Miriam Naor, as is now expected, wrote investigative journalist Yoav Yitzchak on News1.
The bill amends the current law which says that a Supreme Court President can only be appointed if he or she can serve in the position for at least three years. This stipulation was inserted in 2007 by then Justice Minister Daniel Friedman and was meant to prevent appointments “for the sake of awarding a title or securing a pension,” in Friedman’s words.
The new bill amends the law and would allow the appointment of a president with only two years remaining until retirement.
Supreme Court presidents are appointed on the basis of seniority. Grunis has more years on the Supreme Court than Naor, but by February he would have slightly less than three years remaining until his retirement (Grunis will be 70 in January 2015). He would therefore be disqualified from replacing Beinisch, only because of the three-year clause.
If, however, the three years are shortened to two, Grunis could still be appointed, and seniority would make him the favored candidate.
When the Ministerial Committee for Legislation votes in favor of a bill, its chances of successfully passing are greatly enhanced and it can expect to receive Coalition backing.
Appointments to the Supreme Court are a highly charged political issue. President Dorit Beinisch has wielded an iron fist regarding appointment of her favored candidates, openly clashing with Justice Minister Yaakov Ne'eman and his predecessor Friedman, her nemesis.
Grunis is opposed to judicial activism, the school of thought favored by Beinisch and her predcessor Aharon Barak, which condones interference in the executive branch's decisions.