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The Purse and the SwordThe Trials of Israel's Legal Revolution$
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Daniel Friedmann

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190278502

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190278502.001.0001

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The Supreme Court Writes a Constitution

The Supreme Court Writes a Constitution

(p.189) 22 The Supreme Court Writes a Constitution
The Purse and the Sword

Daniel Friedmann

Oxford University Press

This chapter addresses the Supreme Court’s invention of an Israeli constitution through the use of its powers of legal interpretation. Israel, as a matter of fact, has no official document enacted by the Knesset or any other authorized body labeled “constitution.” But after the Knesset passed, in 1992, the Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty, Aharon Barak declared a constitutional revolution. This basic law does not mention a long list of rights which are generally considered fundamental, and which in other countries are considered constitutional rights. However, convinced that it had managed to legislate a constitution, the court also decided to determine its contents by simply interpreting the term “human dignity” so as include in it the values which in the court’s view ought to be guaranteed, even where the legislator decided to omit them. The connection between this basic law and what the court calls a constitution, however, is an invention of the Supreme Court itself.

Keywords:   Israeli constitution, Knesset, Israeli Supreme Court, human dignity, Aharon Barak, constitutional rights, voiding Knesset legislation, constitutional revolution

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