(photo credit: Courtesy)
In her first interview since stepping down from the bench, former Supreme Court president Miriam Naor told Channel 1 that she was wrongly characterized by critics as a leftist when she never took a side in cases before her.
“I was not on the Right or on the Left... I kept my beliefs to myself... To some on the Right, anything which is not Right is Left,” said Naor.
Portions of her interview with Liat Regev were aired late Sunday and late Monday, while additional portions were due to be aired Tuesday night.
Naor, and the Supreme Court in general, have been increasingly attacked by the government in recent years as frequently intervening to declare key laws and policies unconstitutional.
Sticking to a line she took while heading the judicial branch, Naor contended that the courts are not overly interventionist, they simply intervene when the law requires and those who they intervene against label them as leftist for doing their job.
Besides that more serious exchange, much of the interview with Naor was unusually personal and humanizing for a justice known as cerebral and distant.
On the show, Naor displayed a humorous statue of three monkeys and another statue symbolizing justice.
One of the monkeys was covering its ears, the other covered its eyes and the other its mouth. Tying the statutes into a more serious issue, she said the statues inspired her view of the role of a judge in difficult cases.
She said that sometimes witnesses do not want to tell what they heard or saw, but that the “statue of justice” still prevailed because, “Despite the silence of monkeys, judges can figure out what happened.”
Asked what judges would do if they were missing key pieces of a picture in a case, she responded unhesitatingly, “If there is not enough evidence, then it is simple” – the prosecution did not carry its burden of proof and the judge acquits the defendant.
Naor was asked whether she ever wrote verdicts with a shaking hand from the difficulty of coming to a decision in a close case. She answered, “When you write a verdict you already know what you think...; before the verdict...
sometimes” judges struggle with some of the issues, “but that is our role.”
She admitted that certain cases were harder emotionally as a judge than others, such as those dealing with adoption where the family situation is messy. The reason those were harder, she explained, was that “the case itself is hard and tragic, you don’t know what will happen – you are taking a calculated risk either way about the fate of the child.” Naor also discussed the difficulties of work-life balance when she was raising young children and trying to make her name as a young state prosecutor. She said luckily she got lots of childcare help from her mother, but also made sacrifices to be present for her children earlier in her career when they were young.
Naor was also asked about her feelings on visiting German death camps in her role as Supreme Court president.
“You say to yourself... your ancestors are proud of you...when you pass the gate [at Auschwitz]... it is a kind of a victory” over the Nazis since “we are here and alive.”