Published : 2013-02-04 18:52
Updated : 2013-02-04 18:52
The Constitutional Court, together with the Supreme Court, constitutes one of the three branches of government that are required to maintain checks and balances among themselves. But the Constitutional Court has been degraded by a series of ill-advised actions by its incumbent and former justices.
One case in point involves Ahn Chang-ho, a Constitutional Court justice, who recently allowed his background to be checked for potential selection as a prosecutor-general nominee. He has turned himself into a target of criticism by many jurists, who believe that he smeared the court’s image when he accepted his name being put forward as a candidate for the post.
Still worse, he is the first incumbent justice to be tapped for the post of prosecutor-general. Many believe the least he could have done was to resign as a justice before allowing his background to be checked so that he could appear for a confirmation hearing at the National Assembly.
True, former justices of the Supreme Court were appointed to the post of prime minister, other posts of the executive branch and even to a post of the ruling Saenuri Party. But none of them were selected for the posts when they were still on the bench.
Ahn’s background check followed a failed attempt by President-elect Park Geun-hye to install Kim Yong-joon, a former president of the Constitutional Court, as her first prime minister. When his selection was announced, a question was raised: Would it be appropriate for checks and balances if a former head of the Constitutional Court were to serve the president as his or her prime minister? But Kim had to withdraw from the selection process when one suspicion after another was raised about his background.
Another pending problem involves a former justice, Lee Dong-heub, who stood a confirmation hearing as President Lee Myung-bak’s nominee for the post of Constitutional Court president. But Lee, whose integrity was called into question, is left in limbo as the National Assembly is making no move to put his confirmation to a vote anytime soon, if it ever does.
What can be best done about Ahn’s case is to stop the process of selecting a nominee for the post of prosecutor-general. Ahn will do well to withdraw from the process and the outgoing Lee administration may leave the process to the Park administration. It would do little harm to the prosecution if it was headed by the acting prosecutor-general for one or two more months.