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Ex-chief justice slams bill allowing override of Supreme Court rulings

‘In what world do you want to live? In a world in which the court lacks authority?’ Miriam Naor says of proposed legislation

Then-outgoing Supreme Court chief justice Miriam Naor speaks during her a farewell ceremony in Jerusalem, on November 6, 2017. (Flash90)
Then-outgoing Supreme Court chief justice Miriam Naor speaks during her a farewell ceremony in Jerusalem, on November 6, 2017. (Flash90)

Former Supreme Court chief justice Miriam Naor on Sunday harshly criticized a bill that would drastically curb the court’s ability to strike down laws it deems unconstitutional, saying such legislation is not used in democratic states.

“Where did this consensus come from that there is a need for an override clause?” Naor asked at an Israel Bar Association conference in Eilat.

“In what world do you want to live? In a world in which the court lacks authority? This is not an issue of power,” she added, saying such a clause is not used in democratic states.

Naor’s successor, Justice Esther Hayut, has also come out strongly against the bill, calling it an “unprecedented assault” against the judicial branch, in a speech earlier this month.

While the bill, which would give a 61-MK-majority the ability to overturn Supreme Court decisions to strike down Knesset legislation as unconstitutional, was approved by ministers earlier this month, its advancement has been stalled by disagreements among coalition partners over the proposal.

The legislation comes amid efforts by right-wing lawmakers to limit the court’s power. The matter arose after judges repeatedly stymied the government’s bids to imprison and deport African asylum seekers from the country without examining their asylum requests or, according to the court, sufficiently ascertaining the safety of the countries to which they were to be deported, as Israel is required to do under international treaties and Israeli law.

Limiting the Supreme Court’s ability to overturn Knesset legislation would allow the coalition to pass a law that would legalize the deportations.

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