Hearings for prospective Supreme Court justices to be broadcast live

Justice Minister Sa’ar says move aimed at shoring up trust in judicial system; Justice Uzi Vogelman appointed as court’s deputy president

A High Court of Justice hearing at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem, on May 4, 2020. (Abir Sultan/Pool/AFP)
A High Court of Justice hearing at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem, on May 4, 2020. (Abir Sultan/Pool/AFP)

The Judicial Selection Committee on Monday approved Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar’s proposal to hold televised public hearings for Supreme Court candidates.

According to the proposal, a subcommittee’s public interviews with the candidates will be broadcast live. Currently, those hearings are held in private.

Sa’ar said the move was aimed at strengthening trust in the judicial system.

“I am convinced that the public component of the election process, and its transparency, will contribute to increasing public confidence in the election process to our Supreme Court,” the justice minister said in a statement.

“The status of the Supreme Court, the fact that its decisions constitute a binding precedent for the entire judicial system, and the extent of its involvement in issues of public importance establish the need for a public dimension in part of the selection process,” he said.

Sa’ar’s proposal originated from a bill proposed in 2019 by then-Blue and White MK Zvi Hauser, which was based on the American system, in which Supreme Court candidates appear before the Senate.

Gideon Sa’ar, head of the New Hope political party, speaks during the conference of the Israeli Television News Company in Jerusalem, on March 7, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Right-wing politicians have long derided the court for its composition and its rulings, accusing it of being too liberal, and also called for drastically limiting its powers of judicial oversight. Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly attacked the justice system during his ongoing corruption trial.

Sa’ar has been at the head of advocating for further forms within the justice system. Many see his push to appoint Gali Baharav-Miara as attorney general as an expression of his intention to split the role in two, with one person serving as the government’s legal adviser and another as chief state prosecutor. He and other conservative critics have argued that the dual role creates a conflict of interest, as the attorney general is tasked with overseeing the prosecution of members of the government whose moves he is also charged with defending.

Also on Monday, the Judicial Selection Committee voted to appoint Justice Uzi Vogelman as deputy Supreme Court president, replacing Justice Neal Hendel, who is set to retire at the end of April.

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