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[Editorial] The Constitution Must Be Protected

Posted July. 17, 2007 03:16,   


Today marks Korea’s 59th Constitution Day, which was first celebrated in 1948 after the constitution was completed, and immediately before the establishment of the Republic of Korea. It’s been two decades since the constitution was revised to reflect the democratic constitutional order after the June Democratic Movement in 1987. It is the basic law which sustains the country and defines the order of the people’s daily lives. It is at the zenith of the rule of law, above any other laws. Any problem with the constitution puts the rule of law at risk.

Ironically, the president of the administration, which is known to consist of so-called democratization activists, denounces and violates the constitution. The constitution is the law by the people. Even elected powers cannot be above the constitution. The purpose of the law is to prevent the abuse of those elected to power.

The crisis of the constitution that Koreans see is caused by the inner circle of the administration which is indulging self-righteousness and denies the existing order as if it had a monopoly on all the justice in the world. Although he solemnly made an oath at his inauguration, saying, “I will observe the constitution,” President Roh Moo-hyun belittled the law and refused to accept the Constitutional Court’s interpretation of the law thanks to his blind, self-righteous perspective. History will remember the president as the one who made the grave blunder of undermining the rule of law.

The president and his close aides protest this label, claiming that elected judges on the Constitutional Court are attempting to invalidate the decisions of the National Assembly, which is elected by the people. This controversy was decided when a federal court in the U.S. established a precedent for violating the constitution. The Constitutional Court is given the constitutional right to check the legislative rights of parliament. If the constitution is undermined, the other laws under it are also undermined.

For the constitution to remain part of the rule of the people, the role of the Constitutional Court is important. The court needs to promptly reveal its clear position on controversial issues so that the state power cannot violate the constitution. It should not delay the ruling for the Private School Act, real estate taxation and the constitutional petition filed by President Roh Moo-hyun.

Only when all the members of the Republic of Korea respect the constitution and practice constitutional values can law and order be firmly established in society. The president, in particular, should serve as the protector of the constitution.