Judicial Appointments and Promotions in Israel - Constitution, Law and Politics
APPOINTING JUDGES IN THE AGE OF JUDICIAL POWER: CRITICAL PERSPECTIVES, Kate Malleson, Peter Russell, eds., Toronto University Press, 2005
26 Pages Posted: 9 May 2005
Many scholars view the fact that Israel established and managed to maintain a democracy almost as a miracle. A possible explanation for Israel's democratic success lies with the legal institutions in Israel and especially its judiciary. The Supreme Court of Israel, together with other legal institutions, such as the Attorney General and the prosecution agencies, managed to construct important features of Israel's democracy and protect others. The Israeli case indeed proves that an independent judiciary is perhaps the most crucial condition for a successful democratic state.
The paper focuses on the procedure for the appointment and promotion of judges in Israel as an important element for securing the independence of the judiciary in Israel and for its key role in constructing and protecting democracy in Israel.
The story of the Israeli judiciary and especially its Supreme Court is a fascinating one. Without the protection of a constitution to guarantee its independence, it was through the actual conduct of the judges that the judiciary gradually gained public trust and admiration. In repeated studies from the 1980's onwards, the judicial branch in Israel was ranked second to the army in terms of public appreciation and confidence, whereas the politicians - legislators and government ministers - were ranked in the bottom of the tables. This public esteem enabled the judges to become crucial partners in public decision-making in Israel, to construct a judiciary-made bill of rights and to engage in checking and balancing the decisions of the other branches of government
The public trust that these judges gained in the first few years of statehood paved the way to the Judges Act 1953, which established the procedure for appointments of judges to all courts in Israel, which is still in force today. This system in which the professionals on a judicial appointments commission have the majority vote in the selection of judges enabled Israel to maintain a Supreme Court with a high degree of professionalism, free of party politics, corruption and the like.
The article provides a short account on the history of judicial selection in Israel, elaborates on the procedure itself and on the results of this procedure and ends with the main contemporary issues under debate.
Keywords: Independence of the Judiciary, Israel, Separation of Powers, Judicial Selection, Constitutional Law
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