Ono Scholar and Former Legal Clerk of Chief Justice Barak Comments on Israel’s Controversial Judicial Override Clause

Dr. Yaakov Ben-Shemesh, an expert in administrative and constitutional law, was interviewed on Kan Reka Russian Language Radio’s “Subject of the Day” Program (in Hebrew) about a proposed legislation that would allow the Knesset, Israel’s legislative body, to override decisions of the Supreme Court to invalidate passed legislation, with a majority vote.

Dr. Ben-Shemesh received his Ph.D., in Political Philosophy from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, USA. He served as Legal Assistant to Supreme Court President (Ret.) Prof. Aaron Barak until his retirement in late 2006. Ben-Shemesh is a Senior Public Law Lecturer in Constitutional and Administrative Law at Ono Academic College and regularly appears as a legal commentator on television and radio channels.

Jokingly, Dr. Ben-Shemesh began by saying that the proposed override clause law does not yet mark the end of democracy in Israel and we still have some time left. He noted that the reform that has been put forward by Israel’s Justice Minister Yariv Levin has legitimate and even desirable elements. Ben-Shemesh said that regardless of the political controversy, reform is truly needed in all four areas covered by the proposed law including: the process of electing Supreme Court Justices, the authority of the Supreme Court to invalidate laws that were passed by the Knesset, the definition of “reasonableness” as a criteria for allowing/disallowing Supreme Court intervention, and the process of appointing governmental advisors. However, Ben-Shemesh also noted the bill’s dangers.