Ahead of the High Court hearing on the petition to revoke the Reasonability Clause amendment to the Basic Law: The Judiciary, MK Simcha Rothman, Chairman of the Knesset Constitution, Law, and Judgement Committee, submitted a request to disqualify Supreme Court President Ester Hayut from sitting in the hearing.
According to Rothman, Hayut has already expressed her position against the amendment which restricted the court’s ability to use the argument that a government action, though legal, was extremely unreasonable.
In January, the Movement for Governability and Democracy, founded by Rothman, filed a complaint with the Commission for Complaints against Judges and the Civil Service Commissioner against Justice Hayut, following her speech in which she openly and harshly attacked Justice Minister Yariv Levin and his judicial reform.
The complaint stated that there was 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.
“There is much more than the fear of bias and damage to the appearance of justice that should prevent Her Excellency the President of the Supreme Court from participating in discussions regarding the question of the legality of the amendment to the law,” Rothman wrote on Monday, adding, “Therefore, and by law, she must recuse herself from sitting in judgment.”
Rothman elaborated that since Hayut had already expressed her opinion and explicitly stated that the amendment to the Basic Judiciary Law was “part of an unbridled assault on the justice system and part of a plan to crush the justice system, with all due respect, judging by the words of the Honorable President in public it appears that the President of the Supreme Court has long since formed her opinion on the matter and that in any case there is a real fear of bias and damage to the appearance of justice in a way that prevents the Honorable President from participating in hearings on petitions dealing with the question of the legality of the amendment.”
Rothman insisted that the facts described and detailed above present a bleak picture, according to which the Honorable President E. Hayut chose to ignore one of the fundamental principles of our legal system – that the court must come with an open mind be willing to hear the parties’ claims, and formulate its position only after hearing the claims.
“When a judge has revealed his opinion on a legal issue relevant to the court hearing, and certainly if he gave it a platform in public, then the court cannot hear the arguments of the parties with an open mind, a fact that has the potential to harm not only the litigant, but the entire public and the foundation of the legal system,” Rothman concluded.
Here’s the problem with MK Rothman’s argument: he thinks we live in a democracy where the courts have everyone’s best interest in mind and feel bound by ethical standards.
It’s so sad when politicians start believing these things.