Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin and Supreme Court President Asher Grunis met Sunday to discuss a controversial new bill that may upset the balance of power between the judiciary and legislative branches of government.
The bill, a Basic Law draft, seeks to regulate the relationship by allowing the legislature to revive laws that the court strikes down. The bill, drafted by the Justice Ministry, proposes to allow a 65-member majority of 120 members in the Knesset to overrule the Supreme Court in the event that the Court finds a law to be unconstitutional.
“The purpose of the legislation is to prevent a clash between the authorities [the Supreme Court and the Knesset],” Rivlin told Grunis, who was on record as opposing the bill because of its provision for such a slim majority in the Knesset. He was also opposed to the legislation because the Knesset did not consult with the Supreme Court while drafting it.
Rivlin said that the two institutions had been on a collision course for years, and that the “historic legislation” would preserve the Supreme Court’s ability to review Knesset laws, and at the same time “avoid the danger that politicians will seek to establish another constitutional court composed of politicians rather than jurists.”
Grunis responded that he would bring the draft legislation up for discussion with the other Supreme Court justices.
Basic Laws carry a lot of weight in the country because they have attained constitutional status, in a country that lacks a formal constitution. Rivlin contends the bill is imperative because it would solidify the relations between the courts and the legislature. But, he added, he was seeking the justices’ approval before bringing it to the Knesset floor for a debate or a vote.
Grunis and Rivlin are scheduled to meet again during the Knesset’s upcoming summer session, which is when the discussed legislation is tentatively expected to reach the Knesset floor.