'The Chief Justice must be elected democratically'

New bill takes aim at 'seniority' method of appointing Chief Justice of Supreme Court.

Tal Polon ,

Supreme Court headed by Miriam Naor
Supreme Court headed by Miriam Naor
Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90

A new bill submitted this morning, Thursday, takes aim at the “seniority” method of appointing the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

Up until now, the de facto method for choosing the chief justice has been that the most senior judge serving on the court is next in line to become chief justice. Ynet reported that Chairman of the Knesset Committee MK Yoav Kish (Likud) is advancing a bill, whereby the selection process will be anchored in law and the chief justice will chosen democratically by the Knesset.

Although the bill had been proposed in the Knesset and was blocked, Kish is trying to advance it again now in hopes of conveying a “clear message” about the judicial selection process.

“The defective process in place today reduces the Judicial Selection Committee to a rubber stamp according to the seniority method. It bothers me that this method quells any sort of discretion - especially when we’re talking about such an important appointment,” Kish said, according to Ynet.

“If the Knesset can choose a state comptroller or president - it can also choose the chief justice of the supreme court.”

The bill comes amidst tensions between sitting Chief Justice Miriam Naor and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked over Shaked’s intention to delay the Judicial Selection Committee’s meeting on July 18, when it was expected that an announcement of Justice Esther Hayut as the next Chief Justice was to have taken place.

“I don’t see any justification for delaying the meeting,” Naor wrote. “A delay raises suspicions of meddling with assessments of the entry of the new chief justice and damage to the legal system and the public,” she wrote.

Shaked fired back: “Your letter seeks to choose the next chief justice over 100 days before your retirement unnecessarily, before a substantive public discussion has taken place on the matter. Only after a principled discussion will a date be set for the next meeting during which the identity of the new chief justice will be established."