Tom Ginsburg Discusses the Power of the Israeli Judiciary

A top US law professor worries Israel could become the next Hungary

Tom Ginsburg is a professor at the University of Chicago, “where he is the Leo Spitz Distinguished Service Professor of International Law and co-directs the Comparative Constitutions Project, which gathers and analyzes the constitutions of all independent nation-states. He is also a Jew who has transformed a former synagogue on the South Side of Chicago into a cutting-edge arts space, and says what is happening with Israel’s new governing coalition “raises my complicated relationship with the country.”

The Israeli promoters of these plans are pointing to the United States, in particular, for the proposals for more political involvement in the appointment process. On the other hand, in the United States once you’re appointed politically, you’re serving for life. There’s literally no check on your power. And so maybe some people think we have too much independence. If these proposals go through in Israel, there will be a front-end politicization of the court [in terms of the selection commission], but also back-end checks on the court [with the override clause that would allow a simple majority to reinstate laws struck down by the Supreme Court]. So in some sense, it moves the pendulum very far away from independence and very much towards accountability to the point of possible politicization.

Tom Ginsburg Co-Director of the Comparative Constitutions Project