[EDITORIALS]Break the court deadlockThe stalemate between the government and the opposition parties in appointing a new chief justice of the Constitutional Court is frustrating. The court is the institution that makes the final decisions regarding the Constitution. It is a pity that the court, which should be a symbol of justice and independent authority, is the victim of an ugly political dispute.
The first person responsible for this situation is, of course, President Roh Moo-hyun, but the National Assembly is responsible just as much as the president. How can a law-making institution use an unconstitutional process just because the president asked it to do so? Even after the Assembly knew it was unconstitutional, it did not work to correct the situation, but rather tried to solve it politically. Legislators made the whole nation confused but not a single person apologized.
Starting now, it should head toward a way to set up order in the Constitution. It is the least it can do to recover the authority of the National Assembly, which has humiliated itself. What do legislators wish to gain from making this issue a political debate and fighting with each other?
President Roh Moo-hyun sent a request to the National Assembly to open another confirmation hearing on the president’s designate, Jeon Hyo-sook, as a judge on the court. It is necessary to appoint Ms. Jeon as a judge first since it is unconstitutional to designate someone not sitting on the court as chief justice. But even if the National Assembly refuses to hold a confirmation hearing, Ms. Jeon’s nomination as a judge on the court would be automatic after a certain period of time. After this procedure, it seems likely that the Blue House will request the approval of the National Assembly to appoint Ms. Jeon as the chief justice.
Even if they go through these procedures from the beginning, the violation of the Constitution is not resolved. Reappointment starts a new term for Ms. Jeon. Many jurists say that resigning in the middle of a term and starting again is contrary to the terms of office and reappointment provisions in the Constitution. If Ms. Jeon is appointed as chief justice, there would be a debate about infringing on the rights of the next president.
Jeon Hyo-sook’s political neutrality has been in question. The authority of the Constitutional Court has also dropped. If placing Ms. Jeon as chief justice is a matter of stubbornness, constitutional violation suits will follow continuously. That would be unfortunate for Ms. Jeon herself as well as the Constitutional Court.