Judges rejects Knesset lawyer’s attempts to minimize impact of reasonableness law

Jeremy Sharon is The Times of Israel’s legal affairs and settlements reporter

Yitzhak Bart, an attorney representing the Knesset legal adviser, downplays the impact of the reasonableness limitation law, arguing that rather than strike down the law, the High Court could use its ability to interpret laws to remedy the vacuum in judicial review over government decisions caused by the legislation.

For example, he says, judges could rule that the law does not apply to interim governments, because such governments could abuse the absence of the reasonableness standard.

Supreme Court President Esther Hayut questions this position, asking on what basis within the text of the reasonableness law the court could make such an interpretation.

“What in the law allows us to differentiate between different types of reasonableness?” she says. “Are you not inviting us to rewrite the law? If we say it doesn’t apply to interim governments… then we are rewriting the law.”

Bart later continues to argue: “It’s not that the reasonableness standard has been canceled. The precedent of previous decisions for the government to act with reasonableness remains. The attorney general and legal advisers will continue to tell the government when it is acting without reasonableness.”

Justice Ofer Grosskopf interjects: “But there will be no way to enforce it.”

Bart then says: “The idea that the ministers will only listen to the attorney general if [the court] has a sledgehammer [of being able to strike down government decisions through the reasonableness standard] is simplistic.”

To this, Justice Uzi Vogelman replies: “This argument is disconnected [from reality]. It’s a very optimistic vision.”

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