Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked on Saturday night published a scathing post on her Facebook page, in response to a Friday Yedioth Aharonoth interview with former supreme court president Prof. Aharon Barak. Barak expressed his concern over the direction the justice minister is pursuing, in an attempt to reverse 25 years in which supreme court justice—starting with Barak—have been usurping powers from the Knesset to which they are not entitled by law.
Barak criticized Shaked personally, saying that “Democracy is not based on the fact that elected officials can do what they want. In my opinion, the justice minister does not understand that.”
A clearly hurt Shaked rebuked the former chief justice, saying, “As far as I am concerned, proper ethics precede any legal philosophy, and [as the sages put it] decency preceded the Torah. Readers of interviews with you cannot miss the sad fact that for you the world is divided into two groups: those who agree with you and those who don’t understand (they don’t fail to understand you, heaven forbid, they just don’t understand).”
“It is regrettable to discover once again that an ideological opponent who understands something, and perhaps even holds a different perception of justice than your own, belongs to that empty group as far as you are concerned,” she shot back.
Minister Shaked has been promoting a new constitutional-level “Basic Law” to regulate the relationship between the Knesset and the Supreme Court on legislation. The new law will clarify the Knesset’s authority to enact laws, determine legislative processes, define the supremacy of the Basic Laws over ordinary laws, and determine the authority of the court to annul a law that contradicts a provision in a Basic Law.
This legislation, coming from the representatives of the real sovereign, the Israeli public, is liable to undo Barak’s quarter century of cleverly intertwined precedent rulings and wrest from the hands of the justices a great deal of misappropriated power – something Barak has been telling anyone with a microphone these days, would usher in the apocalypse.
“One sentence you said in the interview caught my attention, because it is true,” Shaked wrote, citing Barak’s assertion that “if the Basic Law: Legislation passes, it would set Israeli law back 25 years.”
“You certainly referred to the constitutional revolution that you have waged and that Israeli democracy is not yet done licking the wounds it opened. Well, the good news is that along with this law, the other things I have been working on for the past three years are moving us toward the realignment of the rail that you twisted a quarter of a century ago. Every day at the Justice Ministry, I take another step in creating a democratic alternative to your constitutional revolution.”
“There is one thing on which I agree with you,” Shaked concluded, that “there is no contradiction between the fact that Israel is Jewish and democratic. Except that this is where our paths are divided. I adhere to the separation of powers and a genuine democracy of majority rule while preserving human rights; you will probably continue to stick to your expansive as possible interpretation that would lead us directly to the tyranny of the minority.”