Justice Vogelman Expected to Decline Supreme Court Presidency

Justice Isaac Amit, who is next in line for the post, is an expert in civil law and has a history of liberal rulings

Chen Maanit
Chen Maanit
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Supreme Court President Esther Hayut, front right, and Supreme Court Justices at the swearing-in ceremony in March.
Supreme Court President Esther Hayut, front right, and Supreme Court Justices at the swearing-in ceremony in March.Credit: נעם ריבקין פנטון
Chen Maanit
Chen Maanit

Supreme Court justice Uzi Vogelman is expected to forgo an appointment as Supreme Court president after Esther Hayut retires in October 2023 because he would only be a year younger than the mandatory retirement age for judges. Hayut will turn 70 and retire next year. The post is usually based on seniority, so if Vogelman declines it, Justice Isaac Amit – who will be 65 when Hayut retires – would be next in line for the post.

Vogelman spoke to Hayut and others recently about his intention to turn down the court presidency. Vogelman is considered to be one of the most liberal justices on the Supreme Court. In December, he harshly criticized Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked’s policy that instructed the Population, Immigration and Border Authority to continue to operate according to the Citizenship Law – which expired in July – on the issue of family unification for families in which one of the spouses is an Israeli citizen and the other is a Palestinian.

In 2019, Vogelman held a minority opinion that the state should allow Palestinians who reside in Israel with a residency permit issued by the Coordinator for Government Activities in the Territories to fly via Ben-Gurion International Airport. In 2014, he was one of the justices who ruled that sections of the law that allowed detaining asylum seekers in the Saharonim detention center for a period of up to a year or the Holot detention facility for an unlimited amount of time were unconstitutional.

Amit, whose main expertise is in civil law, is considered to be an efficient justice and part of the center bloc, with liberal tendencies. He was appointed to the Supreme Court in August 2009, after serving as a judge in the magistrate’s and district courts in Haifa. He was a member of the majority at the beginning of the month in the Sheikh Jarrah appeal, in which the Supreme Court accepted the appeal by the Palestinians living in the neighborhood who had received eviction orders and ruled that they could continue to live in their homes until a final agreement is reached on the land ownership and residency arrangements in return for reduced rent.

Amit ruled in December that a woman who sued for compensation for damages from sexual abuse is entitled to choose to be examined by a female psychiatrist – who is providing a medical opinion on behalf of the defendants. “The difficulty in being exposed to a male psychiatrist could very well influence the opinion,” wrote Amit at the time. In July, he told senior police officers that the courts today “no longer believe the police like they once did,” because of the use of body cameras by the police. In December 2005, Amit was a member of the majority in a district court case that denied the appeal of Roman Zadarov of his conviction for the murder of Tair Rada, a controversial case that is now being retried.

In 2007, the Justice Minister Prof. Daniel Friedman passed an amendment to the law that only a justice with at least three years left to serve before mandatory retirement could be appointed as Supreme Court president. But, in January 2012, the Knesset once again amended the law and removed this restriction. The legislation was called the “Grunis Law,” because the change allowed the appointment of justice Asher Grunis as Supreme Court president just a short time after the Knesset passed the amendment.

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