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High Court rejects government request to delay ‘reasonableness law’ hearing

The hearing on the amendment to Basic Law: The Judiciary is still scheduled for Sept. 12.

The Supreme Court weighs in on a Basic Law shielding Israel's prime minister from removal, Aug. 3, 2023. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.
The Supreme Court weighs in on a Basic Law shielding Israel's prime minister from removal, Aug. 3, 2023. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.

Israel’s Supreme Court, sitting as the High Court of Justice, on Tuesday rejected a government request to delay a hearing on the recently passed “reasonableness law.”

The government’s private counsel, Ilan Bombach, submitted a request last week for the hearing of petitions against the amendment to Basic Law: The Judiciary be postponed by at least three weeks. The hearing is scheduled for Sept. 12.

Bombach is representing the government in the absence of Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara, who excused herself from the hearing over objections to the amendment, which she has said is “not legal.”

In its decision the High Court cited scheduling challenges that would be involved in a delay, including an eight-day recess for Sukkot and the retirements of Supreme Court President Esther Hayut and Justice Anat Baron in mid-October.

However, the deadline for Bombach to submit his response was extended from Sept. 3 to Sept. 9. The Attorney General’s Office will still need to file its response by Sept. 3. The petitioner’s deadline for arguments was also rescheduled, from Sept. 7 to Sept. 10.

The time of the hearing was moved up from 10 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. to accommodate the wedding of Bombach’s son in the evening.

Religious Zionism lawmaker Simcha Rothman, chair of the Knesset’s Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, criticized the Supreme Court’s ruling.

“I wanted with all my heart to believe that the High Court is not deliberately striving to create a constitutional crisis as part of the war to preserve its excessive power and at the cost of dragging the State of Israel into functional chaos,” said Rothman.

“Reality proves that this is a completely naive thought. The High Court has no boundaries. And in a democracy, there must not be an authority whose powers have no limits.”

All 15 Supreme Court justices will hear the petitions against the “reasonableness law.” It will be the first time in the court’s 75-year history that a full 15-judge panel has presided over a case.

The amendment, passed on July 24 by all 64 lawmakers in the governing coalition, bars “reasonableness” as a justification for judges to reverse government decisions.

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