Last Friday I reported that the Movement for Governability and Democracy, founded by MK Simcha Rothman (RZ), filed a complaint with the Commission for Complaints against Judges and the Civil Service Commissioner against Supreme Court President Esther Hayut following Hayut’s speech Wednesday evening, in which she openly and harshly attacked Justice Minister Yariv Levin and his legislative reform proposals.
The complaint states that there is no dispute over the fact that Justice Hayut spoke as part of her role as the Supreme Court’s president, and if the Commission for Complaints against Judges and the Civil Service Commissioner finds that she has indeed violated the rules, they should recommend to the Judicial Selection Committee to fire her (NGO Demands Sacking Justice Hayut for Breaking Civil Service Protocol in Attacking Minister Levin).
On Sunday, MK Tally Gottlieb (Likud) petitioned Justice Minister Yariv Levin to file a complaint against Hayut with the Disciplinary Court for Judges for violating clause 18 (a) of the Ethics Rules for Judges 2007-5767, which states: “A judge will refrain from publicly expressing an opinion on a matter that is not primarily legal and is subject to public controversy.”; 20 (b)(1): “A judge shall not use his position as a judge to promote his own or another’s interest.”; and 23 (b): “A judge will refrain from activities that are inappropriate for his position as a judge or that may bring him into conflict with his role as a judge.”
Gottlieb argues that Hayut’s January 12 speech was a harsh attack on the Justice Minister’s judicial reform, in which the court president crossed every boundary while frightening the nation about the legislative and executive branches while stating wrong facts in a manner that expressed her opinion on a controversial political matter.
According to Gottlieb, the court president most definitely placed herself in a conflict of interests: should the court be petitioned regarding the Levin reform – she and the court members whom she messaged with the text of her speech, would have to recuse themselves. And if they don’t, this would harm even further the public’s already low opinion of the Supreme Court.
MK Gottlieb demands that the justice minister file a complaint with the disciplinary court for judges demanding Hayut’s removal from office.
It should be noted that although the disciplinary court for judges has removed only a few judges from office since the enactment of the ethics rules (by then-Supreme Court Justice Dorit Beinish), it is far from being a toothless body, and should it decide to rule on the complaint, it could very well decide to sack one of its own.
Revital (Tali) Gottlieb is a first term MK from the Likud party and a criminal attorney. She grew up in a national religious home in Bnei Brak, but in 2012, decided to leave the faith – but not her staunch, national views. She made a name for herself as a fighter on behalf of falsely accused husbands in divorce cases. Since arriving at the 25th Knesset, Gottlieb has been one of the most vociferous members, fighting the establishment––including her own party––on every front. To date, she has fought against letting MK Ahmad Tibi resume his post as deputy Speaker, against MKs speaking in Arabic at the Knesset podium, and several other causes.