Monday August 31, 2015
Israel Hayom
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Prof. Aviad Hacohen

Levin's dangerous law

Every now and again a bill suggesting a change to the composition of the Judicial Nomination Committee arises, usually paving the way for a slew of other similar bills, which are focused on "changing" and "revolutionizing" the legal system. Some of these bills are clearly anti-democratic, doing more harm than good.

Those promoting such bills may mean well, but their actions are both unwarranted and unworthy. Judging by the bill introduced on Tuesday by Coalition Chairman MK Yariv Levin (Likud), the number of judges on the nine-member committee will be reduced by one, in favor of another minister, a Knesset member or a representative from the academia.

Make no mistake -- this is more than a cosmetic change. The committee currently comprises three Supreme Court judges, two representatives from the Israel Bar Association, two MKs and two ministers. This makeup has been in place for over 25 years and is guided by the principle that the number of law professionals on the panel must be higher than the number of politicians serving on it.

This structure has, for years, ensured that the two forces on the committee are duly represented and that the professional aspects pertaining to its decisions outweigh all others.

The accolades lavished on the Israeli judiciary the world over, which are best manifested by the tens of thousands of Israelis who seek to become a part of it every year, prove that despite the criticism often leveled at it, the public has great respect and faith in the Israeli legal system.

No judiciary is free of failures and Israel's is no exception. Upon close examination, one can see how judges' nominations reflect Israeli society. Some nominations deserve the criticism they attract and at times, efforts should be made to correct what needs correcting, but the main problem does not lie with the manner in which judges are named to the bench.

Changing the system may politicize the judiciary, and from there on it is a slippery slope to losing the public's faith in the legal system. One can only hope that this bill, like all the ones before it, will be shelved alongside the multitude of bills that managed to manufacture little more than media headlines. Over the past few years, it seems, that shelf has become very crowded.

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