Constitutional Court Faces Difficulty Operating without its Chief Justice
The Constitutional Court has had no chief for nearly two months and it's been well over a month since the nominee for the position, Lee Dong-heug , withdrew himself from consideration in the face of allegations of ethical lapses.
Later this week, Justice Song Doo-hwan who has been serving as the acting chief since his predecessor retired in late January, is due to retire himself.
That means.. that for the first time in its 25-year history, the court will have to run with only seven justices, instead of the legally-required nine.
The problem is President Park Geun-hye, who is responsible for appointing the court chief, is preoccupied with the appointments for her administration.
An official from the presidential office of Cheong Wa Dae says President Park's priority is to fill the vacuum crearted by the recent withdrawal of her nominees for two key government agencies.
President Park has yet to nominate someone to head the Small and Medium Business Administration and her new nominee to head the new science ministry is awaiting his parliamentary confirmation hearing.
Legal experts point out the current situation will make it difficult for the Constitutional Court to function properly, as the law stipulates that it takes the consensus of at least six justices to rule a law unconstitutional.
In other words, all but one of the current seven justices would have to come to an agreement for such a ruling to be made.
Even if President Park Geun-hye were to appoint a new court chief immediately, he or she would have to go through a confirmation hearing at the National Assembly, which could take weeks.
Heo Seung-ha, Arirang News.
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