Rothman Presents New Changes to Composition of Judges Selection Committee

MK Simcha Rothman, head of the Constitution Committee, at a committee meeting at the Knesset, Monday. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

​The Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, chaired by MK Simcha Rothman (Religious Zionism), convened on Sunday to discuss the amendments to Basic Law: The Judiciary.

Committee Chair MK Rothman presented the new changes to the composition of the Judges Selection Committee:

The composition of the Judges Selection Committee will be changed; instead of nine members, there will be 11 committee members. In effect, there will be two committees, or a kind of committee with a revolving composition.

The Judges Selection Committee for Supreme Court justices, which will be the main committee, will discuss all the issues on the agenda of the committee, and Supreme Court appointments. Its composition will be as follows: three Supreme Court justices — the Supreme Court president and two others, three ministers from three different parliamentary groups, three MKs from three different parliamentary groups from the coalition, and two MKs from different parliamentary groups from the opposition.

For two Supreme Court appointments per term, the required majority is a regular majority. For over two appointments per term, a regular majority is required that includes at least one representative of the judges and one representative of the opposition, so as to prevent the takeover of the court by the coalition.

As for the committee that appoints judges for other courts — the composition of the committee includes the Supreme Court president, a District Court president chosen by the District Court presidents and a Magistrates’ Court president chosen by the presidents of the Magistrates’ Courts. When the committee appoints judges to other courts, the required majority will be seven from 11, in order to create a situation in which the coalition cannot appoint a judge to a Magistrates’ Court or District Court on its own. [The committee chair said that a majority of] eight is also an option.

Regarding the Labor Court, the amendment will be indirect; the president of the National Labor Court will be [on the committee] instead of the Magistrates’ Court president. Then there will be the Supreme Court president, the Labor Court president and a District Court president who will be chosen by the District Court presidents.

The majority for dismissing [a judge] from his post will be nine from 11. The legal quorum of the committee and the partial committee will increase in keeping with the number of committee members, and will stand at six.

The issue of the hearing [for judicial candidates] will move from the Constitution Committee to the Judges Selection Committee.

The section of the Courts Law dealing with dismissal [of a judge] from his post for medical causes will be the same as dismissal for non-medical causes.

Committee Chairman MK Rothman summed up: “I think that whoever has been following the deliberations can see that there is an attempt here to reassure people who are concerned needlessly. I hope that the impression is very clear. There is a critical need to repair the justice system, make the Supreme Court more diverse and restore the public’s confidence in it. These arrangements are aimed [to ensure] that as many people as possible in Israel will feel that the Supreme Court is theirs, and for this reason we have provided diversity — diversity of parliamentary groups, diversity between the coalition and the opposition, and also the fact that appointments can be made without the veto that the judges have held until today. The reality of a court that holds so many powers, replicates itself and clones existing worldviews, is unacceptable. With all the arrangements, we managed to square the circle, so that the people can choose the judges, but on the other hand, a random political force will not be able to take control of the court.”

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