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Knesset Speaker Condemns Chief Justice's Remarks

Knesset Speaker Rivlin condemned Chief Justice Benisch's claim that lawmakers are inciting against the court.
By Gabe Kahn.
First Publish: 12/2/2011, 12:03 PM

Reuven Rivlon
Reuven Rivlon
Flash 90

Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin led the charge on Friday when he condemned Supreme Court Chief Justice Dorit Beinisch's verbal fusillade on Thursday against members of the Knesset seeking to reform Israel's judicial system.

"Chief Justice Beinisch overstepped her bounds when she accused lawmakers of 'incitement,'" Rivlin said. "We deserve no such thing."

"The Knesset is committed to maintaining the honor of the judiciary, but our branches of government are impinging on one another. Today more than ever, Israel's democracy requires that our Basic Laws be amended to ensure each branch restricts itself to its own purview," Rivlin said.

"This will help in preventing chaos in the inter-relations between officials and authorities," he added.

Beinisch attacked the members of the Knesset on Thursday saying they were leading "a campaign of de-legitimization led by several politicians, Knesset members and ministers who take advantage of their immunity to give false and misleading information to the public."

She also charged lawmakers sought to "damage the High Court, reduce its powers, and prevent it from carrying out its functions, and undermining its ability to protect the country's democratic values."

"The writing was on the wall, but no one stood up [to defend the court]," Beinisch added.

During her remarks Beinisch also demonstrated a poor understanding of how the US federal judiciary functions when she acerbically attacked a proposal that prospective Israeli Supreme Court justices be vetted by Knesset lawmakers much as their US counterparts are vetted by the US Senate.

Benisch railed, "Are these lawmakers also proposing to adopt the unchallengeable respect for U.S. Supreme Court's decisions?"

The United States Supreme Court has long protected the power of judicial review – which the court carved out for itself via precedent – by only hearing cases first heard by lower courts, carefully enforcing the common law principle of standing, and rejecting cases that fall under the purview of other branches of government.

The Benisch court, legal observers note, has prompted the push for judicial reform among Israeli lawmakers by doing exactly the opposite.