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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Naomi Elizabeth Morris, November 11 and 16, 1982, and March 29, 1983. Interview B-0050. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Argument for the separation of personal and judicial philosophy

In this excerpt, Morris talks about how a judge's personal philosophy should never affect the way they interpret the law. Although she acknowledges her own conservative leanings and the fact that her political views do affect the way she sees cases, she aligns herself with Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's assertion that personal feelings ought not to intersect with written facts of law.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Naomi Elizabeth Morris, November 11 and 16, 1982, and March 29, 1983. Interview B-0050. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

PAT DEVINE:
What about a judge's upbringing in terms of morals, religion?
JUDGE NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Now that probably has something to do with the way that he feels the law should be applied to a situation. And there are those of us who are conservative and those of us who are liberal. I happen to be very conservative. I've tried not to let that show in my opinions. I guess it does, because I do feel that way. And maybe it isn't all bad. I just don't know. It's something to think about. For example, I went before the Nominating Committee for the Federal Court of Appeals, and about the only question that was asked me was, "What have you done for the civil rights movement lately?" And my answer was, "Nothing. It's not my province to do anything for the civil rights movement." But better than half of the members of that commission felt that that was what I was supposed to be doing.
PAT DEVINE:
As a judge on the Court of Appeals.
JUDGE NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
As a judge on the Court of Appeals. That, in my opinion, is absolutely wrong.
PAT DEVINE:
And this was a nominating committee to consider you for membership on the other court?
JUDGE NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
Up for appointment on the federal court. As Justice O'Connor said in her hearing before the Senate, "How I feel about something has nothing to do with the way I apply the law. I apply the law as it's written to the facts as they are before me. And my feeling personally might be entirely different and just as far apart as two poles. My personal philosophy has nothing at all to do with whether I would be a good judge." She said that, and she was absolutely correct.
PAT DEVINE:
I thought that's what you would say.
JUDGE NAOMI ELIZABETH MORRIS:
I don't see how it can be any other way.