Levin says legislation to curb courts corrects historic wrongs

Carrie Keller-Lynn is a former political and legal correspondent for The Times of Israel

Justice Minister Yariv Levin addresses the Knesset, February 20, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Justice Minister Yariv Levin addresses the Knesset, February 20, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Speaking shortly before the Knesset is set to vote on his ambitious plan to move judicial appointments into government control and block the Supreme Court from reviewing Basic Laws, Justice Minister Yariv Levin says that the legislation is part of a process to correct historic wrongs.

A longtime ideological advocate of constraining the Supreme Court’s power, Levin says that sections of Israeli society were “trampled” and “disrespected” by the Supreme Court.

Addressing the Knesset floor, Levin says that through this legislation, “masses of citizens are raising their voice, voices that have not been heard for decades by the justice system, which was blind to their needs, which neglected them.”

The justice minister says the court had “disrespected them,” and “this evening, I stand here in determination and great pride, to make their voices heard and to promise that, from here on out, their voices will be heard.”

Levin also says the reform will rebalance power toward the Knesset, after the court expanded its purview three decades earlier.

“In the biased media, they speak about a judicial revolution,” says Levin. “I want to tell the citizens of Israel the truth. There really was a judicial revolution.” But this, he argues, was led by former Supreme Court president Aharon Barak, who in the 1990s expanded the court’s powers to review laws against Basic Laws, elevating them to a quasi-constitutional status.

“I hear the false claims about the end of democracy… and I tell you that what we’re doing is bringing back democracy,” Levin says.

Amid much public pressure to engage in dialogue with the opposition over the content of the reforms before they come for their second and third, final, readings, Levin says he “extends a hand” across the Knesset aisle and suggests discussion, without pre-conditions. Both opposition leaders and President Isaac Herzog have said pausing the legislative process is needed to enable proper discussion.

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