September 19, 2023


Israel's Looming Constitutional CrisisDebates over the Supreme Court's role expose deep societal fissures, including between the religious and secular. (Charlotte Lawson, Sep 19, 2023, The Bulwark)

[A]dvocates of safeguarding the court's review power say barring the court from weighing in on Basic Laws would essentially create a majoritarian system. The laws and their amendments have special standing but no special procedure, meaning that they can be passed by a simple majority of lawmakers. Drawing on hypothetical worst-case scenarios, several opponents of hollowing out the court's authority asked the question: What happens if the Knesset pushes through a Basic Law that's blatantly anti-democratic?

Without a written constitution, Israel throughout its history has faced its fair share of tricky legal questions like the ones raised last week. But underpinning the legal disputes are core questions about outcome, and who wields the power in Israeli society. 

In the past, the Supreme Court has challenged or criticized policies pushed by religious political parties in the Knesset. Limiting the court's power, secular Israelis worry, could allow the current ruling coalition to pass laws they view as discriminatory, including enforcing gender segregation in public spaces and giving ultra-Orthodox Israelis greater control over who and how people can worship at Jewish holy sites.

Another major point of contention, military service exemptions for ultra-Orthodox men studying the Torah, has divided Israelis for years. Most Israeli citizens are required to complete a stint in the army, but the ultra-Orthodox are largely excused from service on religious grounds. The ruling coalition has proposed a Basic Law to enshrine that exemption, which in theory would prevent the Supreme Court from striking down a bill to allow ultra-Orthodox men to completely avoid military service. 

It's no wonder, then, that support for limiting the court's power has been largely divided along religious lines, according to a recent study by the Viterbi Family Center for Public Opinion and Policy Research in the Israel Democracy Institute. While 68 percent of secular Israelis had a negative view of the proposed judicial reforms, 66 percent of ultra-Orthodox respondents said they were "very good" or "pretty good." 

Identitarians always oppose the universal application of laws.

Posted by at September 19, 2023 12:00 AM