[EDITORIALS]Discord among lawyer activistsA new lawyers’ group with a moderate political tone and the aim of monitoring powerful authorities and assisting minorities in our society was officially launched yesterday. The group’s name, Sibyeon, translates into English as “lawyers standing with the people.”
It is the third lawyer’s association in Korea after the progressive Lawyers for a Democratic Society and the conservative Constitution Law Advocates. Until now, the legal community has shown concern that the existing two lawyer groups have become too political and ideological.
During the Roh Moo-hyun administration, Lawyers for a Democratic Society has provided a pool of officials and became a power group.
The Constitution Law Advocates was also criticized for leaning too much toward defending Korea’s old system and spending too much effort on ideological debates. The confrontations between the two groups surfaced clearly during the presidential impeachment trial and a discussion of the abolishment of National Security Law. Some lawyers openly complained about the Constitutional Court rulings and did not hesitate to insult the highest court and its justices.
Under such a reality, it is meaningful that Sibyeon has decided to follow the pragmatic path. If lawyers’ groups are divided and spend all their time in ideological confrontation, we will end up with nothing but conflict.
That is why we need diversified voices in the legal community to find constructive alternatives.
We have high anticipation of the new group’s promise to review the constitutionality of recently-passed controversial laws governing the media. The group also promised to review the constitutionality of private school laws and the legal measures to investigate Korea’s modern history.
We also have high hopes of such procedures. Since constitutional debates continue over these matters, the bills need thorough reviews at this point.
Before the end of this year, six justices of the Supreme Court, including the chief justice, will end their terms. During the upcoming appointments, the lawyers’ groups will likely raise their voices to place the candidates who share similar views with them.
We hope Sibyeon acts as a practical watchdog during the process. Supreme Court justices should be the ones who can make rulings according to law and conscience ― not politics.