'Supreme Court justices are the real legislators'

MK Nissan Slomiansky blasts Supreme Court, accuses justices of undermining the Knesset with judicial activism.

Tzvi Lev,

Israel Bar Association

MK Nissan Slomiansky (Jewish Home), who serves as the chairman of the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, slammed the Supreme Court on Thursday and contended that Israel's highest court had usurped the Knesset's governing power.

"It's no secret that the real legislator is not the Knesset, but the justices of the Supreme Court," Slomiansky declared at an Israel Bar Association conference.

In a panel that included Supreme Court justices Dr. Yoram Danziger and Dafna Barak Erez, Slomiansky harshly criticized the Supreme Court for what he said was their judicial overreach. "There are areas in which they take responsibilities [which they are not authorized to] and for me, it is a disaster. They do not represent the public. "

"With all the tremendous respect I have for the Supreme Court, I think that the Supreme Court must restrain itself," said Slomiansky.

Slomiansky's assertations where hotly contested by Justice Yoram Danziger. "We have the authority to interpret the law and we are not competing with or at war with the legislative branch," Danziger said. "We are doing our work faithfully and we are not replacing the legislators".

Israeli politicians from across the political spectrum have long accused the Supreme Court of judicial overreach, alleging that the court has subverted the Knesset's authority by frequently striking down laws which do not match the justice's ideological worldview.

Last month, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home) accused the court of "taking democracy away from the people" in a blistering speech at a conference in Zichron Yaakov. "How does the Supreme Court strike down laws without any legal authorization to do so?" Shaked asked. "Does a law enabling the court to nullify legislation appear in any of their law books?"

"Respect for the legislative branch is the keystone of our democratic system, and the reference to the decision of the majority as a procedural matter only signals contempt for the public and contempt for the only democratic institution that the public elects directly".