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  • ACRI

Revocation of the Reasonableness Clause

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel and 37 other human rights organizations jointly filed a petition with the High Court of Justice, challenging the amendment to Basic Law: The Judiciary. This amendment, which eliminates the grounds of reasonableness and rejects judicial review of decisions made by the government, Prime Minister, and Ministers, is a matter of deep concern. The petition emphasizes the potential damage to the scope of human rights protection, violating the principles of the rule of law, separation of powers, and integrity. The organizations highlighted the adverse impact on various communities, including those living in poverty, Arab society, members of the LGBTQ community, Bedouins in the Negev, women, Ethiopian immigrants, Mizrahim, Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and East Jerusalem, migrant workers, and asylum seekers.

 

The petition argues that constitutional rights are intricately linked to their practical realization through administrative decisions. For instance, protection of the right to live in dignity for those facing electricity disconnection involves procedural decisions, necessitating judicial review of ministerial decisions for effective constitutional rights realization. The petition also underscores the crucial role of the courts in examining the reasonableness of government decisions, especially for rights not explicitly protected by Basic Laws, such as the right to housing.

 

Furthermore, the organizations contend that the amendment jeopardizes the independence of judges, undermining the Judiciary's essential role in safeguarding human rights. They criticize the rushed and opaque legislative process, leading to a vague law that generates uncertainty on critical matters requiring clarity. The amendment is seen as an overreach of constituent authority, constituting an unconstitutional change designed to shield it from judicial scrutiny.

 

On August 9, 2023, the court took a significant step by including human rights organizations as amicus of the court in the eight petitions slated for a hearing on September 12, 2023. This marked a crucial development in the legal challenge against the amendment to Basic Law: The Judiciary.


On January 1, 2024 the verdict was delivered. In a decisive majority opinion, with 12 out of 15 justices concurring, the Supreme Court affirmed its authority to conduct judicial reviews of Basic Laws, particularly in exceptional cases where the Knesset overstepped its constituent authority. Additionally, a majority of 8 out of 15 justices ruled that the amendment, which eliminated the grounds of reasonableness, should be deemed void. The court underscored the severe and unprecedented harm this amendment posed to the foundational democratic characteristics of the State of Israel.

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