On judicial independence in Israel
Israel was originally to have a Constitution, but it never did as the issue proved divisive on religious grounds, among others. An unwritten constitution developed in its place. This is the legal context of current constitutional debates, including on the constitutional status of religion in Israel. The solution was the adoption of chapters or Basic Laws, that together would form a constitution. What are the Basic Laws – an exercise of a constitutional authority of the Knesset, if such existed? An exercise of legislative authority?
The status of religion in the state is a constitutional matter which directly affects religious freedom, and the establishment of religious is a pivotal constitutional matter. Religious courts derive their legal powers from the statutes enacted by the Knesset and must abide by the laws of the Knesset as interpreted by the Supreme Court, even if it conflicts with their religious interpretation. The religious courts, however, view their authority as emanating from a religious normative system. Attempts to rectify inequalities in religious law through state law directed at religious courts, are destined for a clash of normative hierarchies.
The talk will draw on the speaker’s experience as a constitutional law barrister representing litigants in the Supreme Court, as well as on her academic research.