Court needs to actThe Constitutional Court yesterday struck down President Roh Moo-hyun’s challenge to an election law barring civil servants from speech that can influence elections. A president is the representative of the country’s civil servants, and he holds enormous power. Therefore, it is crystal clear that a president must remain neutral, rather than expressing his political opinion, for a fair election. It is only logical that the court ruled against Roh.
We are more interested in the court’s attitude than the ruling itself. We wonder why the judges had to wait so long to rule on such a simple matter. Roh filed his petition on June 21 of last year, and it took seven months. This violates regulations governing the Constitutional Court that a case will be ruled on within 180 days. Furthermore, the case was directly related to the president’s intervention in the presidential election. There was a strong possibility that Roh would ignore the National Election Commission’s warning and public opinion and repeat his offense. Therefore, the ruling should have come long before the presidential election. The ruling, however, came a month after the election.
The Constitutional Court is the highest authority of law and order in Korea. Its authority, independence and honor are its life. The Constitutional Court’s authority can only be respected when it makes fair and stern rulings over “a living power.” After the ruling party’s presidential defeat, Roh has become “a dying power.” Why does the court avoid “a living power” and only rule on “a dying power”?
Of the nine judges, most were appointed by Roh, or by the Supreme Court chief justice, who was appointed by Roh. Most were recommended by liberal politicians. The Constitutional Court’s handling of the petition was not upright, and that is why we are scrutinizing the judges’ background.
This is not the first time the Constitutional Court has sat on a sensitive matter. When it postponed ruling on legislation on private schools, the law was revised, and the court lost its opportunity to rule on the case. The judges still say they are reviewing the petitions challenging the Roh administration’s media policy of shutting down press rooms, the comprehensive real estate tax and the KBS decision to include the TV bill in the electric utility bill.
When the Constitutional Court remains silent, we face corruption. The Constitutional Court protects the soul of our society’s law and justice. However, it is not free from trying to please those in power.
How can we expect this nation to stand upright?