[EDITORIALS]Don’t pressure the judiciaryTwo Supreme Court justices, one retiring and one incoming, have expressed worries over the independence of the judiciary. Byun Jae-sung, a former Supreme Court justice who retired last week, said that a way of thinking that is biased and lacks understanding of the nature of the judiciary is rampant outside the judiciary.
His successor, Yang Sung-tae, said at his National Assembly confirmation hearing that sound criticisms of the court’s decisions, suggesting better directions were desirable, but emotional responses to the court’s rulings hurt the judiciary. The remarks of both justices attract our attention because they are candid expressions of worries that the independence of the judiciary is being threatened by politicians and some social forces.
After the Constitutional Court ruled that the bill on the move of the capital was unconstitutional, some governing party lawmakers intensified criticism of the judiciary. Recently, they openly criticized the courts’ decisions on lawmakers who were charged with election law violations. We are in an era where legislators abuse the judiciary, saying, “The Constitutional Court is an institution that shouldn’t have been born!” or “The judiciary is dancing with a knife.”
Previously, they criticized the judiciary as the handmaiden of power. Now that they have come into power, they threaten the judiciary because it doesn’t do what they want. After all, they want to wield power as they please, but they feel uncomfortable because the judiciary is in the way. This is the very reason why the judiciary is necessary.
The court makes the final decision on the results of both public power and personal action. If the judiciary is swayed by the interest of a political faction or public opinion, the rule of law will cease to exist. Where there is no rule of law, it is only naked power that will prevail. This is the reason why all social forces, including politicians, shouldn’t damage the authority of the judiciary under any circumstances.
The judiciary also shouldn’t yield to outside pressure. If a judge makes a decision based on the trend of the times, it will allow room for outside intervention and the court’s standing will be diminished. As the retiring judge has warned, judges shouln’t be self-righteous, biased, selfish or arrogant. If they rule according to the constitution, the law and conscience, the judiciary will be free from criticism and its independence will be guaranteed.