[EDITORIALS]Odd way to respect the lawIt was very wrong of President Roh Moo-hyun to say, “The decision by the Constitutional Court has undermined the constitutional authority of the National Assembly.” The National Assembly, like the administration, can make errors in judgment. As the administration can infringe on the basic rights of the people when undertaking their duties, so can the National Assembly sometimes pass laws that are not in conformity with the Constitution.
The Constitutional Court is a body set up to prevent infringement on the freedom of the people by government bodies. That is why the Constitutional Court, which was introduced in the revised Constitution of 1987, has become a symbol of democracy in South Korea. Even so, the president says he fears “confusion in constitutional order” only because the court ruled against his expectations.
President Roh has gained much because of the Constitutional Court. On March 12, the National Assembly exercised its constitutional authority and impeached the president. There were193 votes for impeachment and 2 against. If, according to President Roh, the National Assembly’s judgment is so absolute, then instead of the Constitutional Court’s dismissal of the impeachment indictment, the impeachment should have been accepted without any complaints. According to President Roh’s logic, the Constitutional Court’s rejection of the impeachment decision by the National Assembly caused confusion in our nation’s constitutional order. If so, for President Roh to remain in his presidency is in itself confusion in constitutionalism. That is why it is a contradiction for President Roh to now say, “The decision by the Constitutional Court has struck a blow to the political leaders and the political circles as a whole.” The president’s remarks can only be viewed as an order or an urging by the administration to disobey or overturn the court’s decision. The first duty of the president is observing the constitution as he pledged at his inauguration.
The governing party’s proposed National Security Law, the Private Schools Law, the Inquiry into the Past Law and the Press Law may become constitutional issues. Is Mr. Roh trying to build defenses against that possibility? The president should prune the unconstitutional elements in the legislation instead of threatening the court’s rights in our Constitution.