High Court overturns ´discriminatory´ law (JERUSALEM POST) By JOANNA PARASZCZUK 02/28/12)
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In her final judgment before retiring in a special farewell ceremony
in the court on Tuesday, Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch and
the High Court of Justice overturned two articles of the Income
Support Law, which prevent people who own a car from receiving income
In her final speech, Beinisch emphasized the importance of an
independent judiciary and struggling for social issues. "The burden-
bearing middle class feels a sense of deprivation that is liable to
undermine the core of the system," Beinisch said.
Beinisch will be replaced by Justice Asher Dan Grunis, who is set to
be sworn in on Tuesday. Grunis was selected for the role after the
Knesset passed an amendment to the court’s law last month. Dubbed
the “Grunis Bill,” it effectively paved the way for Grunis to replace
Beinisch by lowering the minimum tenure for a Supreme Court president
from three to two years.
The former retirement age for presidents as stipulated by law was 70,
which ruled out Grunis, who will be just over 67 years old on the day
Beinisch retires. The new amendment reduces the minimum term to two
years, making Grunis eligible for the Supreme Court presidency.
As her retirement ceremony began following the announcement of her
final ruling, Labor Party chairwoman Shelly Yacimovich lauded the
retiring Beinisch´s achievements, saying that her work had been "a
rare combination of statism and protecting individual rights."
"The public is taking leave of an important leader, who was able to
work, with determination and courage, in the face of pressure from
government leaders," said Yacimovich.
The Labor Party chairwoman said that Beinisch had left a legacy of
important legal rulings, including banning corporal punishment
against children and overturning a law against the privatization of
The Income Support law in Beinisch´s final ruling stipulated that
individuals and families not capable of ensuring a basic minimum
subsistence income are eligible for income support payments, as long
as they meet certain requirements.
However, the same law stated that “a vehicle owned or utilized by the
insured person precludes entitlement to benefits,” a clause which
both civil and women’s rights groups have vocally opposed, arguing
that it harms weaker sections of the population.
Itach - Women Lawyers for Social Justice, Adalah, Sawt al- Amel
(“Worker’s Voice”) and the Legal Aid Department of the Justice
Ministry had all filed petitions against the National Insurance
Institute (NII) and the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor.
As is common practice for petitions on identical issues, the High
Court decided to hear the petitions together and make a single ruling
on all of them.
The petitions sought to abolish a law that unnecessarily harms one of
the country’s weakest populations, Shemesh- Perlmutter said, adding
that the call to overturn the clauses was part of the country’s
continuing fight for social justice.
Adalah say in their petition that the law particularly discriminates
against Arab communities, where there is a shortage of jobs and where
public transport infrastructure is also lacking, making it difficult
for people to travel without a car.
In its written response to the petition in December, the NII and the
state attorney’s office argued that vehicle use per se does not
necessarily preclude eligibility for income support, and noted that
there are certain exceptions and that the law relates to permanent
use of a car. The state said that use of a car involves both fixed
expenses, like insurance, and personal expenses like gas that vary
from person to person, meaning that the NII cannot make objective
calculations about cost.
However, the petitioners argue that denying income support to weaker
populations – in Itach’s case, single mothers – simply because they
had the use of a car is “absurd.” (© 1995-2011, The Jerusalem Post
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