[EDITORIALS]No tinkering with courtsThe legal community is in turmoil over the nomination of a new supreme court justice. The justice minister and the president of the Korean Bar Association stormed out of a nomination committee meeting Tuesday and then resigned from their positions on the committee. A senior judge on the Seoul District Court also tendered his resignation yesterday over the nomination procedures. At the core of the crisis is the dropping of a nominee whom the government and a minority faction in the legal community was recommending. Their argument is that the Supreme Court is too conservative and its composition must be changed.
Then the Blue House got involved. It is apparently unhappy with seniority-based nominations to the court. There is now a suggestion that President Roh Moo-hyun could veto a nomination, which would leave it open to criticism that it is trying to pack the court.
The argument that the court is too conservative has some justification. When the social consensus is reflected, the court can reach balanced decisions. But that argument should not be made in a way that damages the independence of the judiciary. We believe that our judiciary has the social rationality to make such a decision on its own. The person that a minority faction of the legal community is recommending is said to be a reformer. Is that intended to imply that the persons now before the committee are corrupt?
It was inappropriate for the justice minister and the president of the bar association to resign because their views were not reflected. They only intended to use their resignations as a way to pressure the judiciary. And now that the Blue House is involved, we have to ask whether the administration is entitled to talk about an independent judiciary.
The Blue House must not exert pressure on how the Supreme Court is organized. The legal groups that represent the reform faction must not try to go beyond an advisory role. The judiciary must be trusted and it must be left to decide itself on the makeup of the Supreme Court. Without that kind of trust, an independent judiciary ― and the rule of law ― could collapse.