President Rivlin and the Supreme Court vs. the Knesset

President Rivlin and the Supreme Court vs. the Knesset: In his speech opening the winter sesion of the Knesset, President Reuven Rivlin had words of caution against attacking the watchdogs of Democracy, the Supreme Court. The past few years The Knesset is grappling with the judicial activism of the Supreme Court they consider more and more invasive into the legislative branch and less and less sensitive to the country’s real needs.

Striking down the illegal immigrant law and the draft law which took years to figure out and draft was the epitome narrow sectarian interest instead of the interest of the whole country. But Rivlin chose to speak in the opening session of the Knesset strengthening the hand of the Supreme Court instead of the hands of the Knesset. It’s also biting the hand of the Likud that voted him to be president.

Here’s a part of his speech: “We are witness today to winds of revolution… the rule of the majority is absolute. But beneath the reality that ‘everything is judicial’ a new reality is sprouting up where ‘everything is political’… this is an ongoing attempt to weaken the guardians of democracy… there’s an attempt to intimidate the court and weaken it as an institution and invite the public to question it’s authority… how can a conforming, threatened, toothless Supreme Court be the interest of democracy and our country?”

If you ask the Knesset, that’s an easy question to answer. The Supreme Court’s increase in judicial activism forcing its views on the public who didn’t vote for them by deciding against the legislative branch which was voted in by the public is what is marginalizing the court. In the Mishna in Avot it says: “If you grab too much, you didn’t grab, but if you grab a little you did grab.”  Evidently this grabbing and grabbing of the Supreme Court time after time is exasperating the Knesset and the people of Israel.

The people perceive the Knesset as having their interests in mind and the Supreme Court as having its own interests in mind. In the time of Justice Aaron Barak who coined the phrase 'judicial activism' and made it fashionable, he should have learned this Mishna and taken heed to its lesson. The court whose status he tried to raise is about to be compromised by its own undoing, courtesy of this judicial activism.

Rivlin has chosen to align himself with the court ignoring his natural allies and his home camp and essentially the whole country and democracy itself when he backs a court that insists on marginalizing itself. Indeed there are now open talks of abolishing the office of the president of Israel in addition to stripping the Supreme Court of its over reaching power. President Rivlin is adding fuel to that fire.


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