The irresponsible Supreme CourtThe Supreme Court, the last bastion of justice, has been irresponsible. On Tuesday, the court hastily wrapped up the heated controversy over a judge’s brazen criticism, posted on his personal Facebook profile, of the recent ratification of the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement. What the highest court did was to establish a public ethics committee, which only said it would issue guidelines for government officials using social networking services - without referring his case to a disciplinary committee.
The actions of Choi Eun-bae, a senior judge on the Incheon District Court, are extremely disappointing in the eyes of ordinary citizens. His choice of words was terribly substandard given the noble title he holds as a protector of justice. Choi wrote on his Facebook profile that the trade pact with the United States amounts “to a sell-off of our country and working-class people by the president and his economic bureaucrats, who are pro-American to the bone.”
Supporting Choi is a group of liberal judges who are members of an association of liberal judges chaired by Choi called the Research Society on Our Laws. Lee Jeong-ryeol, a senior judge on the Changwon District Court, said that conservative judges must resign. And Song Seung-yong, a junior judge on the Suwon District Court, went so far as to state that other judges “will not stay mum if the court takes disciplinary action, including censure, against us.” We are deeply concerned that such a refined group of people are using such vulgar expressions.
Also, we are dumbfounded at their bizarre assertion that the expression of personal views via social media should be protected under the doctrine of personal privacy. Everyone knows that things spread quickly in cyberspace as soon as they are posted. It would be naive or ignorant to argue that they were not aware of it.
Convinced that our judges are neutral and their rulings just, we believed the court was our society’s ultimate guardian of our social values. Yet the high court’s disappointing decision only reminds us of the disgraceful image of our National Assembly, which disappointed us by failing to penalize Rep. Kim Seon-dong of the far-left Democratic Liberal Party, who threw a tear gas canister in the legislative body last week.
The Supreme Court should not be so lenient - or self-disparaging - as to lose its own authority. We hope it will keep the balance amidst the unprecedented chaos from the unfettered violence and baseless rumors that have followed in the wake of the legislature’s approval of the FTA last week.