[EDITORIALS]A judicial embarrassmentPresident Roh Moo-hyun is determined to appoint Jeon Hyo-sook as a justice of the Constitutional Court even though the situation surrounding her nomination has become an embarrassment. Ms. Jeon resigned from her post as a justice in the Constitutional Court with only a few years left in her tenure. President Roh wanted her to become the chief justice, with a longer tenure. However, it seems neither President Roh nor Ms. Jeon realized they had walked into a trap. As they have both now discovered, nominating a non-justice as a candidate for chief justice is unconstitutional, so Ms. Jeon’s nomination failed to win approval from the National Assembly. The administration will now renominate her as a justice and asked the National Assembly to hand in reports about their hearings on her chief justice nomination by today.
The plan to make Ms. Jeon a justice again has been hatched because President Roh would still like to see her become chief justice, despite her rejection by the National Assembly. It will take a long time for her even to be approved as a justice, so the number of justices at the Constitutional Court will only be nine and the court will have no chief justice for a protracted period.
The Constitutional Court should be more neutral and independent from political forces than any other governmental body. The Constitutional Court should be faithful to the spirit of the Constitution. In this respect, the controversy over Ms. Jeon has harmed not only herself, but also the Constitutional Court. If Ms. Jeon is approved by the National Assembly and employed as chief justice, this damage would be excacerbated. A person involved in a trial could appeal the verdict, simply on the grounds that Ms. Jeon had ruled on the case. Even now, the Grand National Party is preparing to file a lawsuit applying for a provisional disposition to suspend Ms. Jeon from duty.
When people appeal verdicts or file a lawsuit against a justice, it leads to mistrust of the Constitutional Court. This is why we have repeatedly pointed out that Ms. Jeon’s resignation is now the best option. In the wake of the North’s nuclear test, now is not the time to divide the nation even further. President Roh should withdraw his nomination of Ms. Jeon as justice and chief justice of the Constitutional Court.