Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (August 30)

Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (August 30)

Supreme Court Chief Justice Esther Hayut just removed Justice Yosef Elron from the panel that will hear petitions against Likud Justice Minister Yariv Levin’s refusal to convene the Judicial Selection Committee, in apparent response to Elron’s proposal of himself for Chief Justice today, presumably since it is a conflict of interest.

Chief Justices have traditionally been chosen based on seniority. The next Chief Justice is supposed to be (liberal) Justice Isaac Amit. However, the Coalition has indicated it will not be happy with Amit in the position. Instead, until they can dispense with the seniority system, the Coalition has indicated it will leave the position vacant.

In the absence of an appointment of a new chief Justice, responsibilities will go to vice president, Justice Uzi Vogelman (a more palatable choice for the Coalition, especially given his retirement next year, making a rapid more palatable replacement soon possible.) Both Hayut and Justice Anat Baron are to step down in October for mandatory retirement.

Chief Justices of the Supreme Court are customarily chosen from currently-sitting justices by the Judicial Selection Committee, which is traditionally composed of three high court justices, three coalition MKs, one opposition MK, and two Bar Association members. Levin is attempting to wrest control of the committee - and thus the court composition - to the Coalition, by delaying the appointment of Hayut’s replacement until the seniority system is altered, and possibly also by opening the top position to someone not yet on the bench as Levin has indicated.

In order to circumvent the seniority tradition, and until the system is changed, the Coalition needed a sitting justice to present him or herself as a candidate. In May, Globes reported that Elron was considering nominating himself.

The Chairman of the Constitution Committee MK Simcha Rothman also jumped into the fray today, telling 103 FM radio that elections for court president should be “democratic” and not based on seniority as is traditional.

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