Photo Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90
Justice Minister Yariv Levin, December 29, 2022.

On Tuesday night, News 13 reported (breathlessly) that the real reason Justice Minister Yariv Levin (Likud) wants to end the promotion of Supreme Court justices to the post of Court President based on seniority is his desire to appoint an outsider to the post.

According to the report, today, the law does not allow such a move, and the court president must be chosen from among the members of the panel of 15 judges (the seniority is just a practical way to avoid internal strife in the court over the promotion – DI). But Justice Minister Levin has prepared a memorandum proposing that “the president or vice president of the Supreme Court will be appointed in the same way as judges of the Supreme Court are appointed, whether they first served as judges of the Supreme Court, or not.”


It should be noted that one does not have to be a judge to qualify for the Supreme Court. In 2007, then-Justice Minister Daniel Friedman initiated the appointment of Justices Hanan Meltzer and Yoram Danziger, who were lawyers in the private sector. Following that logic, Levin could pick anyone he deems to be qualified to serve as court president.

And lest our good Jewish friends from America fret about yet another blow to Israel’s democracy which they could not defend back home, here’s a reminder from the land of the free: John Glover Roberts Jr. was nominated in 2005 by President GW Bush to replace Chief Justice William Rehnquist. Roberts moved from sitting for two years on the District of Columbia Circuit directly to Chief Justice, his current job. American politicians have no problem appointing whomever they want not only as Supreme Court judges but as court presidents.

Should the seniority system be left intact, the candidate to replace Court President Esther Hayut on October 23, 2023, is Justice Yitzhak Amit. If I were Levin, I’d keep him. Amit is an innovator, thinks outside the box, and relies frequently on American jurisprudence. He is considered a conservative judge, and appears to have a good sense of humor: he recommended compelling attorneys who speak for too long before the justice to pay the court expenses.

Levin’s reported initiative will be added to his “governance reform” of Israel’s justice system, following 30 years of former court president Aharon Barak’s 30-year creeping judicial revolution. The first phase of the reform includes instituting the Knesset’s overriding power over the high court’s annulling laws; eliminating the extreme unreasonableness that enables judges to disregard existing laws; and the expansion and change in the composition of the committee for selecting judges, giving the advantage to elected officials over judges. All these changes will be part of the Basic Law: the judiciary.

The coalition will formulate a separate legal memorandum to redefine the office of the Attorney General, which will likely be divided into a legal counsel to the government who also represents the state in court; and the Attorney General who will supervise the entire judicial system.


Previous articleWord Prompt – POLAND – Allison Josephs
Next articleTime to ‘Shackle’ Israel’s Supreme Court
David writes news at