[EDITORIALS]Let the court do its workThe Constitutional Court is reeling from overwhelming public attention in the wake of the impeachment of President Roh Moo-hyun. Proponents and opponents of the action are crowding the court’s Web site with their opinions, and the press is reporting every step the nine jurists make.
The voters’ rush to the court’s Web site is slowing down the site. Before the impeachment, about 1,000 people visited the site daily. The number has now shot up to 70,000 a day. On the Web site’s bulletin board, 8,000 postings on the impeachment have been made in the three days since it happened. Public attention is riveted on the court and its coming decision.
In a democratic society, freedom of expression ensures the public the right to give opinions on any issue. As long as the issue is within legal boundaries, people should be encouraged to speak out and be protected when they do. But when the expressions are made with an intent to affect an important case that is under way or the expressions are to the degree that they can influence the final decision, we are in a whole new situation. A judge should rule only according to the law and his conscience.
The court’s ruling on Mr. Roh, made inevitable by the National Assembly, is a crucial decision that may well determine the country’s fate. More than any other case, the ruling must be based on law and principles. Political parties, interest groups or others should not attempt to influence the court’s decision. In that regard, Mr. Roh’s comment that he expects the court to reach a different decision from the National Assembly ― a legal, not a political decision ― was inappropriate. Neither is it appropriate for the leadership of the governing and opposition parties to discuss by what date the court should come to its final decision. Needless to say, the press should also refrain from speculative reporting that only promotes confusion.
The Constitutional Court must rule fairly on the case and not be swayed by politics or the press. The court should not pay heed to the political schedule ― in other words, the April 15 National Assembly elections. Citizens should refrain from excessive expressions or violence to try to influence the court.