As in other parliamentary democracies, the Israeli government is dependent on the confidence of parliament. Israel is a country with a diverse society, divided by multidimensional political issues and using a proportional representation electoral system. It is therefore not surprising to find a multiparty system with a highly fragmented parliament. This setting produces the central institutional feature of its executive branch: coalition politics. This chapter outlines the process of cabinet formation and the types of coalitions formed, presents an overview of the position of the prime minister, describes the work and structure of cabinet ministers and ministries, explains why governments seldom complete a full term, and assesses claims about both instability and nongovernability in Israel.
Cristina Bucur and Bjørn Erik Rasch
This chapter focuses on the link between amendment institutions and formal constitutional changes. The authors’ survey of the extensive literature on constitutional amendment procedures and their consequences for constitutional adjustment highlights the lack of agreement about key mechanisms of constitutional change. Despite the increase in the availability of data on constitutions and the continuing sophistication of research methods and measures, there is still no consensus on the extent to which amendment procedures influence the pace of formal constitutional change. The authors argue that amendment institutions provide only a partial explanation of constitutional change, which also needs to take into account a number of additional political, economic, and social factors.
Menachem Hofnung and Mohammed S. Wattad
The contemporary perception of Israel’s judiciary as an independent branch does not coincide with Israel’s first government’s perception after establishing the first Supreme Court. To a great extent the executive branch deemed the court its long arm. Until the mid-1950s judges were appointed by the government, and questions of conflicts of interest and political affiliation—in the wide sense of the term—were not compelling. However, since the 1990s the court’s power of judicial review and the legitimacy of its decisions have become issues of heated public debate. Consequently the process of appointing justices to the court has become subject to very strict public and political scrutiny. This chapter asks whether the Israeli judiciary truly constitutes a third independent branch of government. This is relevant considering the continuous attempts to change the existing balance of power, aiming to limit the court’s capacity to apply universal judicial doctrines and legal standards to executive and legislative decisions.
Kevin T. McGuire
This article considers several issues that are related to the judicial process. It aims to shed some light on the policy capacities that the courts possess, as well as the impact of their decisions. The chapter focuses on the conditions that must be met in order for the courts to make effective policy. It describes how several of the basic features of the judicial process actually undermine the realization of those conditions. The discussion draws on several different strands of research that underscore different problems that are common to judges serving as policy-makers.
Patricia E. Salkin and Amy Lavine
This article describes the judiciary and judicial reform in New York. Reform has been ongoing, and in recent years the courts in New York have evolved into a unified system to manage better, among other things, the volume of cases, physical infrastructure, and human resources. The administrative board plays a mostly advisory role; many of the chief judge's responsibilities have in practice been delegated to the chief administrator. The court of appeals is responsible for appointing the state board of law examiners and establishing regulations for the admission of attorneys to practice law in the State of New York. The court of appeals has also become embroiled in nonfiscal issues that have major political dimensions and are arguably better resolved through the legislative process.
Mathew D. McCubbins and Daniel B. Rodriguez
This article discusses the judiciary and the role of law. It talks about the implications of the approach for issues in statutory interpretation, and then examines the relationship between the legal and political controls of bureaucracy. The last section in the article focuses on the implications for judicial independence within the larger separation-of-powers system. The emerging literature on Positive Political Theory (PPT) further stresses the political nature of legal decision-making and the dynamic relationship among the legislative, judicial, and executive branches.
José E. Alvarez
This chapter surveys how international legal scholars have catalogued and sought to explain the legal impact of the UN even though its political and judicial organs have not been delegated the power to make law. It explains how the UN attempts to adhere to, but also challenges, the traditional sources of international law—treaties, custom, and general principles—contained in the Statute of the International Court of Justice. It enumerates how the turn to UN system organizations—amidst newly empowered non-state actors, increasing resort to ‘soft’ or ‘informal’ norms, and recourse to institutionalized processes—have led to distinct legal frameworks such as process or deliberative theories, interdisciplinary ‘law and’ approaches, feminist and ‘Third World’ critiques, and scholarly work that renews attention to or revises legal positivism.
Daniel L. Feldman
This article explores the fascinating and varied tools with which the New York State attorney general exercises power over lives and property. The New York State attorney general has become a major player in the national economy, and the office a steppingstone to the governorship. It is noted that law and tradition generally give the attorney general sufficient independence to exercise judgment in any given matter as to whether the responsibility to represent the public interest prevails over the responsibility to represent the attorney general's “other” client, the state, or the state agency being sued. New York State attorneys general have employed creativity, ambition, and intelligence to realize the full potential of their office to do good, a potential that developed over history and in response to the evolving social, economic, and political complexity of American society.