33 Pages

The High Court of Justice and the Shaping of Public Policy: Equality and Gender

The Supreme Court of Israel, sitting as the High Court of Justice, has sole instance jurisdiction to hear petitions questioning whether the activities of governmental authorities are compatible with the rules of proper public administration, as these have been determined by the constitutional Basic Laws, legislation and the decisions of the court itself. How does the court use its jurisdiction to shape public policy? This article examines this issue in the light of the leading judgments of the High Court of Justice in relation to equality of the sexes. We shall try to assess the extent of the creativity displayed by the court in this area and the level of influence exerted by the judgments on norms of governmental behaviour. Initially, the principal judgments will be presented (together with a few observations); this will be followed by a discussion of the global picture emerging from the judgments in relation to the court's influence on public policy as the key to reform of accepted societal norms.