Law and Religion Under the Status Quo Model: Between Past Compromises and Constant Change
13 Pages Posted: 27 Apr 2010
Date Written: 2009
Among the different approaches to the regulation of the legal status of religion, it is worthwhile to study the Israeli experience, traditionally depicted as based on a decision not to decide - that is, on preserving an existing status quo that acknowledges the priority of religious demands in some areas in a way that reflects a social-political compromise rather than a principled decision-making. This approach has been labeled the “status quo” model. The practical meaning of accepting the status quo model was supposed to be refraining from changing the compromises that had been crystallized in the early days of Israel. This abstention was planned to apply to all forms of law-making - either by legislation, administrative decisions or judicial decisions. This Article will look into the practice of the status quo regime and will argue that in fact, contrary to its reputation, the status quo was ever-changing, and in this respect does not represent a workable compromise anymore.
Following this introduction, Part I of this Article describes the basic arrangements of the status quo in its formative years. Part II analyzes the conditions that shaped the status quo and enabled it to function. Part III describes the changes that the status quo has gone undergone, exposing it as a particularly unstable regime. Part IV analyzes the processes that transformed the application of the status quo, and the institutional mechanisms through which they were implemented. Part V continues this analysis by evaluating the impact that judicial review had on both the preservation of the status quo and the changes introduced to it. The Article ends with reflections on the viability of adopting a status quo model for the regulation of religion within a constitutional regime.
Keywords: Religion and State, Status Quo, Israel, Constitutional Law
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