[EDITORIALS]A ‘lick and a promise’ hearing

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[EDITORIALS]A ‘lick and a promise’ hearing

The National Assembly held a confirmation hearing yesterday for Kim Young-ran, the Supreme Court justice candidate. But most questions from lawmakers were either political or superficial, which is very disappointing.
The hearing was a matter of strong interest not only for legal circles but for the entire nation. This is because Ms. Kim is the first female Supreme Court justice candidate in history and there are rising suspicions that some civic groups influenced the judiciary to nominate her.
Still, lawmakers’ questions yesterday were at an elementary level and were only based on media reports or Ms. Kim’s ready-made position papers. Some lawmakers, furthermore, made a slew of irrelevant inquires about issues not pertaining to the judiciary, such as a referendum on the administrative capital relocation bill. Also, some legislators emphasized the need to choose a liberal Supreme Court justice, rather than attempting to verify the candidate’s credentials.
We doubt that yesterday’s hearing accomplished very much. It is important to find out whether some civic groups influenced the judiciary in choosing her as a Supreme Court justice nominee. If it was true, then it means that the independence of the judiciary was infringed upon and judges’ future rulings may be influenced as well. But lawmakers failed to make any serious attempt to find out the truth in this case.
The reason that the confirmation hearing system for Supreme Court justice candidates was introduced is to verify the candidates’ qualifications, morality and professionalism so that the president cannot act arbitrarily in the formation of the judiciary.
The change of Supreme Court justices is very important; personnel changes in the Supreme Court amount to the changes in the nation’s legal system. Thus, the confirmation hearing should not be just formalities.
In the case of the United States, of the 145 Supreme Court justice candidates through the mid-1990s, 28, or 20 percent, were rejected by the Senate after confirmation hearings. In the United States, the candidates’ rulings and even the texts of their lectures are examined.
The judiciary is the ultimate defender of the nation’s system. Confirmation hearings on Supreme Court justices should take place seriously. When can we see true confirmation hearings?
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