Top court resists changes by GNP

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Top court resists changes by GNP

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Supreme Court Chief Justice Lee Yong-hoon presides over a Supreme Court meeting yesterday in Seocho District, southern Seoul. The court issued a public statement opposing the GNP’s judicial reform proposal. [YONHAP]

The nation’s highest court yesterday expressed full-on opposition against the ruling party’s proposal to change the judiciary system.

Korea’s Supreme Court issued a public statement attacking the Grand National Party’s effort to increase the number of Supreme Court judges and enact other changes. This is the first time that the Supreme Court has released a public statement opposing a proposal by the ruling party.

“It is only proper for the Supreme Court to be responsible for and decide on the terms of judicial reform,” the statement read. “Even when the National Assembly or the executive branch of the government discusses judicial reform, they have to respect the constitutional freedom of the judicial court.”

On Wednesday, the GNP’s judiciary reform committee announced that it had finalized 10 measures to “improve” the judiciary system. The proposal seeks to add 10 judges to the current 14 over the course of a decade. The GNP also proposed stricter eligibility requirements for Supreme Court candidates, requiring new judges to be at least 45 years old with 20 years or more of experience in the legal profession. Currently, new nominees have to be at least 40 years old with at least 15 years of legal experience.

Park Ill-hwan, head administrative official at the Supreme Court, said that “the court has never come across such an inappropriate circumstance, in which a change in the judiciary system is pushed forth without the consent of the judicial branch.” The Supreme Court said the statement had been approved by the Supreme Court Chief Justice Lee Yong-hoon.

In response, GNP floor leader Ahn Sang-soo said, “In the National Assembly’s lawmaking process, the court has the right to express its opinion and the opinion will be noted.”

The proposal follows recent friction between the GNP and the court on several politically sensitive rulings. Earlier this year, the Seoul Central District Court acquitted five staff members of Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation on libel charges stemming from the broadcast of a “PD Diary” episode on the safety of American beef.

Another cause of friction between the court and the ruling party involved the acquittal of opposition lawmaker Kang Ki-kab by the Seoul Southern District Court.

Kang, head of the Democratic Labor Party, was charged with obstructing official parliamentary duties after a violent outburst at the National Assembly.


By Cho Jae-eun, Kwon Suk-chun [jainnie@joongang.co.kr]
Related Korean Article

“사법부 불신서 비롯된 개혁론 법원 말 듣고 개혁할 수 있겠나”



권력 대충돌한나라당의 사법부 개선안에 대해 이용훈 대법원장의 사법부가 정면 반발하자 한나라당이 내심 격분했다. 안상수 원내대표는 18일 “국회가 (사법부 개혁) 법안을 제출할 때 사법부와 일일이 의논해서 할 수 있느냐”며 “그런 식이면 사법개혁이 되겠느냐”고 반문했다. 법원의 반발이 일종의 입법권 침해일 수 있다는 의미다.

당 사법제도개선특위 위원장인 이주영 의원은 “대법원이 ‘일방적 밀어붙이기’라고 한 것은 지나친 과민반응”이라고 말했다. 그는 “사법부에 대한 불신과 국민 불만으로 비롯된 사법부 개혁론인데 법원 말을 듣고 개혁을 추진할 수 있느냐”며 “우리는 국민의 시선에서 사법부 개혁을 추진하고 있는 것”이라고 강조했다. 특위 간사인 장윤석 의원도 “법치국가에선 사법부든 행정부든 입법을 통해 국민의 뜻을 담는다”며 “의회가 입법하는 걸 두고 사법부를 배제했다고 주장하는 건 문제가 있는 발언”이라고 비판했다. 그는 “당혹스럽다”는 말도 했다. 한나라당이 “대법원이 과잉대응했다”고 보는 이유는 여러 가지다.

우선 이번 개선안은 향후 국회에서 논의를 위한 한나라당의 ‘당안’일 뿐이란 점이다. 판사 출신인 법원제도개선소위 위원장인 여상규 의원은 “16일 활동을 시작한 국회 사법제도개혁특위에서 논의하기 위해 한나라당의 입장을 낸 것”이라며 “공청회에서 법원 의견도 수렴할 생각”이라고 말했다.

한나라당은 법원의 배제 주장이 사실과 다르다는 점 또한 주목한다. 이주영 의원은 “두 달여 논의하는 동안 법원의 입장도 들었다”고 말했다. 지난달 8일 전문가 간담회에 심준보 법원행정처 기획총괄심의관이 법관인사제도 등에 대한 대법원의 의견을 제출한 일이 있다.

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