#6 Esther Hayut - The Supreme Court president in the hot seat

After years as a mostly quiet back-bencher, Hayut emerged in a more aggressive role, using biting sarcasm and cutting off lawyers left and right.

September 20, 2017 13:37
2 minute read.
#6 Esther Hayut - The Supreme Court president in the hot seat

Esther Hayut. (photo credit: REUTERS)


Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analysis from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief


Justice Esther Hayut, unanimously selected to replace Miriam Naor as Supreme Court president in October, will be the third female chief justice of the last four.

Though few people outside the judiciary may be familiar with Hayut, she could establish a much greater legacy than some predecessors. At 64, her relatively young age means she will run the court for the next six years – longer than both recent chief justices Asher Grunis and Naor combined.

Until now, Hayut was known as more of a consensus builder than well-known justices like Salim Joubran, Elyakim Rubinstein and some others known for dramatic judicial opinions and their readiness to stand out by writing fierce dissents.

In that respect, the rule that the Supreme Court president is decided by seniority played a decisive role in paving the road toward her elevation. However, there was already a clear shift in the first case she presided over after the formal announcement that she would be the next chief.

After years as a mostly quiet back-bencher, Hayut emerged in a more aggressive role, using biting sarcasm and cutting off lawyers left and right.

Esther Hayut, newly elected president of the Supreme Court, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked and current Supreme Court president Miriam Naor, September 5, 2017. / Yonah Jeremy Bob

Rejecting the petition of an NGO for the court’s intervention in making Israel’s nuclear program more transparent, she would not even let Avner Cohen, a noted critic of Israel’s nuclear program who flew specially from California to Israel for the hearing, to say a few words. Lawyers should take this as an indication that they may need to shorten their arguments under her new reign.

Hayut is respected by both sides of the debate over judicial interpretation, which likely reflects her mostly centrist positions, though she is more identified with the moderately activist camp.

Far more like justices Naor and Grunis than former activist chief justices Aharon Barak or Dorit Beinisch, she is frequently in the majority when the court splits but still upholds the law.

In one case, the March 2016 3-2 decision over whether to strike Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s natural gas deal over the massive Leviathan gas field off Israel’s coast, she even voted in the minority against it when Rubinstein, often viewed as more conservative, was in the majority.

Where Justice Menachem Mazuz has dissented from rulings enabling the demolitions of terrorists’ family homes, she has at most expressed some mixed feelings, but said she would support the demolitions. However, on issues of religion and state, minority rights, or challenges to the Supreme Court, such as the Settlements Regulation Law, she is likely to remain in the moderate liberal camp of Naor.

IDF demolition of terrorists' houses, August 9, 2017/ IDF demolition of terrorists' houses, August 9, 2017.

Before 1990, Hayut spent over a decade in the private sector before climbing up the judicial ladder post-by-post from 1990 to 2004 until reaching the Supreme Court.

Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>

Related Content

A vendor at the neo-Nazi celebration of Hitler's birthday in eastern Germany
June 26, 2019
German town buys up beer supply to ‘dry Nazis out’ ahead of concert


Cookie Settings