Two judges were elected to the Supreme Court on Thursday evening, in what has been described as a victory for Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked.
The nine-member Judicial Selection Committee met Thursday and confirmed Prof. Alex Stein, Minister Shaked’s first choice, and Judge Ofer Grosskopf as new Supreme Court justices. The pair will replace Justices Yoram Danziger and Uri Shoham, who will soon be retiring.
The committee also made a round of additional appointments to magistrate’s, district and labour courts, which included the country’s first female Haredi judge, Attorney Chavi Toker, and first female Arab registrar, Sameh Amar, to be appointed to the Jerusalem Magistrates’ Court.
Speaking about the appointment of the two new Justices, Supreme Court Chief Justice Esther Hayut said: “One is an excellent jurist and a former academic, whereas the other is a longstanding and well-respected academic both in Israel and the world. I have no doubt both will make a significant contribution to the Supreme Court and enrich its rulings with their knowledge.”
Justice Minister Shaked, who chairs the committee, called the appointments “outstanding nominees … carrying unique and varied cultural background and life experiences”.
She added: “When I began my term as Justice Minister, one of my central goals was to diversify the Supreme Court. I have little doubt their contribution to the court will leave its mark on the annals of Israeli law. I began the move to change the Supreme Court’s make-up a year ago by appointing four justices. This move concludes today by the appointment of two more. They are all part of the decision to return the court to its paramount objective: interpreting the legislative branch’s norms rather than supplanting them.”
Earlier in the month it had been reported that Shaked was threatening to block all the judicial nominations unless Stein was chosen. Stein is considered one of the leading academics in fields such as criminal law and medical malpractice. He has taught at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, at Yeshiva University in New York, and most recently at Brooklyn Law School. Supreme Court President Esther Hayut was said to have opposed Stein’s nomination.
Grosskopf began his career as an officer in the Military Advocate General’s Office. He served as a Professor and Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Law at Tel Aviv University. Yediot Ahronot describes Grosskopf as “an expert in civilian law. The 49-year-old justice is perceived as a socially conscious arbitrator who often stands with the weak, and is unafraid to voice his social views when presiding over class action lawsuits.”