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Supreme Court of Israel in session. (Photo: ©Yossi Zamir/ Flash 90, 2011.) This photo is licensed, do not download or copy.

Israel's Judiciary under Threat

Professor Menachem Hofnung will share insight into how Israel's judiciary has changed over time, attempts to limit its role in government, and its position in Israeli politics.

Thursday, October 19, 2017
5:30 PM - 6:45 PM
306 Royce Hall

Co-Sponsored by the Center for Near Eastern Studies, and the International & Comparative Law Program (ICLP) at UCLA School of Law

About the Talk

Does the Judiciary really constitutes a third independent branch of government in Israel? This question arises when one witnesses the continuous attempts to change the existing balance of power and limit the court from applying judicial doctrines and legal standards to executive and parliamentary decisions.

In the early years of the State of Israel, Supreme Court justices were appointed by the government. However, the enactment of the Judges Act in 1953 formally anchored the principle of judicial independence in Israel, and transferred the power of appointment from the Government to the President of the State.

Remarkably, until the 1980s, appointing a judge to the Supreme Court was not of great public concern. However, with the changing nature of voting patterns and the formation of competitive elections and shaky coalitions in the 1980s, the court was frequently asked to intervene in political decisions. In a sense, petitions to the High Court of Justice became another tool for the parliamentary opposition and civil society to have their voice in the formation of public policy. This trend was enhanced following the enactment of the 1992 Basic Laws on human rights, and consequent rulings that established the power of judicial review.

In his talk, Professor Hofnung will discuss how the appointment of justices, the power of judicial review, and even the legitimacy of Israel’s Supreme Court have become permanent and compelling issues in Israeli politics.

About the Speaker

Menachem Hofnung is immediate past Chair of Department of Political Science of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (through September 2017). He also served as the Academic Director of the Joint Graduate Program in Public Policy and Law at the Hebrew University and Academic Director at The Gilo Center for Democracy and Civic Education. Professor Hofnung’s research covers national security and civil liberties, constitutional politics and comparative political finance.

A leader in numerous academic associations, Professor Hofnung served as President of the Israeli Law and Society Association (2007-2010), Chair of the International Political Science Association Research Committee on Political Finance (2006-2009), and President of the Association for Israel Studies (AIS) (2013-2015). He also served as a member of the National Commission on Campaign Finance Reform (Levin Commission, 2000), and the National Commission on the Structure of Governmental Administration in Israel (Magidor Commission, 2006).

Professor Hofnung has been a visiting professor at the University of California at Berkeley and Irvine, San Francisco State University, University of Florida at Gainesville, and Moscow State University, and a Research Fellow at the Center for Law and Society at the University of California at Berkeley and Sydney University, Australia.

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Sponsor(s): Center for Near Eastern Studies, Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for Israel Studies, International & Comparative Law Program (ICLP) at UCLA School of Law