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Netanyahu Opposes Judicial Reform

Prime Minister Netanyahu has come out against a slate of judicial reform bills to Israel's courts. Contents are the norm in Western courts .
By Gabe Kahn.
First Publish: 11/26/2011, 8:52 PM

Binyamin Netanyahu
Binyamin Netanyahu
Flash 90

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on Saturday evening, reiterated his opposition to a bill that would require petitioners to the High Court to prove they posses legal standing before their motions can be heard by the court.

Netanyahu's statement Saturday led observers to suggest he is worried by Intelligence Minister Dan Meridor's threat to resign his post, should the slate of judicial reform bills proposed in recent weeks pass in the Knesset.

Meridor told Channel 2 on Saturday evening, "The government should not back such laws, and in my opinion, it doesn't advocate them. If these bills pass I won't sit with them."

Netanyahu said Saturday that the judicial reform bills would "impair the independence of the courts."

Supporters of the judicial reform bills note, however, that the legal premise of locus standi – or standing – is a long-established norm in Western common law.

Essentially, the doctrine of legal standing means a person cannot bring a suit challenging the constitutionality of a law unless the plaintiff can demonstrate that the plaintiff is (or will imminently be) harmed by the law. In other words, the plaintiff must stand to lose something to be eligible to seek redress.

Absent standing, the courts are directed to rule the plaintiff "lacks standing" to bring the suit, and to dismiss the case without hearing claims against the validity of a government policy vis-a-vis the nation's constitution or basic laws.

Two weeks ago, Netanyahu asked the Likud lawmakers pushing the bill to shelve them, adding that he would oppose the push for judicial reform.

"This cannot happen," Netanyahu had said. "Such a law will not be approved by any government under my leadership"

Netanyahu also expressed dissatisfaction with a bill that would require prospective Supreme Court justices be vetted by Knesset lawmakers - much as the US Senate holds hearings before consenting to the appointment of Supreme Court judges.

The vote on the bill to institute legal standing in Israel is scheduled for Sunday.