25 judges up for two Supreme Court spots
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked and the Courts Spokesperson’s Office have announced a list of 25 candidates for filling the two spots that are about to open on the Supreme Court.
Moderate-activist justices Yoram Danziger and Uri Shoham are about to retire, and their replacements will be selected on February 22 by the powerful nine-member Judicial Appointments Committee.
As usual, the battle will be between Shaked and the political members of the panel who are trying to inject more conservative nominees versus the three judicial members who are trying to maintain nominees with similar viewpoints to themselves – on average, moderate-activist.
In a November interview with The Jerusalem Post, Shaked predicted that she would succeed at getting her candidates into the new spots as she mostly did in February 2017.
Asked if she might have less success given that current Supreme Court President Esther Hayut is considered a better negotiator than her predecessor, Miriam Naor, the justice minister referenced reports that her majority-garnering alliance with the Israel Bar Association is already an established fact.
Media reports had no consensus regarding two clear leading candidates.
But multiple reports mentioned Central District Judge Ofer Grosskopf as one of the smartest candidates. He is said to be acceptable to Shaked because he was a student of former justice minister and conservative Daniel Friedman.
However, unlike some of Shaked’s candidates, he is not viewed as looking to go to war with other justices and is seen as very professional and potentially acceptable to the judicial camp on the panel.
Tel Aviv District Court Judge Khaled Kabuv is preferred by the two Israel Bar Association representatives and was on the short list for Supreme Court candidates during the February 2017 appointments.
He would also become the first Israeli-Arab who is a Muslim on the court. One obstacle to his appointment could be that he was beaten by Christian Israeli-Arab George Kara in the last round, and there may not be a push to have two Israeli-Arabs on the court.
Like the last round, Shaked is promoting Bar-Ilan Prof. Gidon Sapir. But she also is now promoting Prof. Alex Stein, an expert in evidence. Sapir has little chance, as he has publicly butted heads with current Supreme Court justices. It is unclear if there is much opposition to Stein.
Other noteworthy names who are not considered to have sufficient support from the various camps are Knesset legal adviser Eyal Yinon and famed defense lawyer Zion Amir, who represented former president Moshe Katsav and many other famous persons.
Zionist Union MK Revital Swid criticized the list of candidates released on Monday, noting that only five of the 25 were women for a court that only has four women out of 14 justices.
Such a lopsided list would only maintain the inequality on the court, she said, and at least one of the two new appointments should be a woman to start to rectify the imbalance.
The full Judicial Selection Committee includes Shaked, Hayut, Deputy Supreme Court President Hanan Melcer, Justice Neal Hendel, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, MKs Nurit Koren (Likud) and Robert Ilatov (Yisrael Beytenu) and two Israel Bar Association members.