Late, but still rightSupreme Court Chief Justice Lee Yong-hoon, at an event celebrating the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the judiciary, vowed to reflect on the wrongdoings of the judiciary and to do his best in securing judicial independence.
It is the first time in history that the head of the judiciary has publicly admitted that there were problems with rulings over state affairs.
Although late, the chief justice’s pledge is the right move. The judicial system’s 60 years should not be stained only with dishonor. It is a fact that many rulings which reflect conscience and moral reasoning have been the basis of, and functioned as, important values in our society.
However, it is clear that such self-reflection has come from the conclusion that public trust in the judicial institution has been seriously damaged.
It is appropriate, therefore, for our society and the court to fix the past wrongs and start anew. We hope that those who form the judicial department will open their hearts and let in the “trust” and “independence” that was stressed in the chief justice’s speech.
Judicial right is entrusted by the public, and without public trust it cannot hold.
The reason behind stressing the age-old dictum of securing independence from political power once again should be carefully looked into. It will require unrelenting self-examination, especially if compromises with political powers have been made to preserve current vested interests.
President Lee Myung-bak’s comment that the judicial department should shun populism and instead gain public trust through rulings based on justice and conscience should be heeded. His words reflect public expectations.
The view that judges have failed to be fair and impartial, and made rulings that went against the Constitution or procedural justice, appropriately reflected the public’s evaluation.
Therefore the apology that we heard yesterday, and the disappointment that was shown in the judiciary’s failures, show sincerity. It remains to be seen whether these vows are put into action.