Attorney Simcha Rotman, Legal Advisor of the non-partisan Movement for Governability and Democracy, appealed last weekend to Supreme Court President Miriam Naor, demanding that Naor cancel her directive prohibiting judges who are interested in promotion from meeting with parties outside the legal system, on the grounds that this directive was issued without authority.
Rotman's letter followed a previous request by the movement's Executive Director Yehuda Amrani to Judge Naor, in which he sought to confirm the existence of the directive, and if it did exist, he wished to know by which authority the directive was given.
In her response to Amrani, Sarah Yifla, who serves as "professional counselor" for Naor, confirmed that Naor had indeed given such a directive "orally". Yifla also referred Amrani to various sources that ostensibly grant Naor this authority.
However, in a letter sent by attorney Rotman to Naor on the weekend, he describes why he does not believe any of these sources grant Naor such authority.
In his letter Rotman also attacks the fact that such a directive was given orally. "Publication of an administrative directive that violates the rights of politicians and the members of the Judicial Appointments Committee to meet with judges over whose advancement they preside in a manner that prevents the public from knowing about the directive and the ability to supervise the conduct of the authority, all by the President of the Supreme Court, a body which is the source of the rules regarding the obligation to publish the administrative directives. is very surprising."
Rothman notes that the directive places the other members of the judges' selection committee, who are not judges, in a position of inferiority to committee members who are judges: "The directive places the judges interested in promotion in a situation in which they are allowed and even encouraged to meet and pass on information to the judges sitting on the Judicial Selection Committee through the 'Committee of the Two', which assists the Supreme Court president, but the elected members of the committee and representatives of the Israel Bar Association are prohibited from meeting with the judges and collecting relevant information in order to reach a decision on their promotion."
"In this reality, all the judges in the system become 'hostages' of court representatives in the Judicial Selection Committee, while the public and its representatives are denied relevant information, to say the least. It should be noted that the issuance of such a directive by the head of the judicial system in Israel does not contribute to the public's trust in the legal system, and on the face of it, it would have been better had such a directive not been issued."
At the end of the letter Rotman informs Naor that if the directive is not revoked, the Movement will petition the High Court of Justice to cancel it.
In a conversation with Arutz Sheva, Rotman explains that "the president of the Supreme Court is not entitled to instruct the judges with whom to meet and with whom not. According to the law there are nine members of the committee, and the meaning of Naor's illegal directive is that members of the ministerial committee, Knesset members, and representatives of the Israel Bar Association are not allowed to be independently impressed by the candidates, and that the only avenue for promotion of judges passes through her and through the secret 'Committee of the Two'.
"Proper administration and the rule of law are important values, and the justices of the Supreme Court are supposed to respect them, no less, and even more, than the other government authorities," he said.
The Movement for Governability and Democracy (Meshilut) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization conceived to strengthen the rule of Israel’s elected officials by restoring the proper balance between the legal and executive branches of government.
Meshilut maintains that judicial activism by members of Israel's Supreme Court and the judicial system at large, e.g., the Office of the Attorney General and Legal Advisory, undermines the rule of law, damages public trust in government and all its branches and ultimately hurts governability and democracy.