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Schedule the vote

Sept 20,2017
The legislative vote to confirm Kim Myung-soo as the Supreme Court chief justice could be a watershed for the Moon Jae-in administration. The government of President Roh Tae-woo was shaken in 1988 after the opposition-majority legislature voted down the nominated chief justice Chung Ki-seung. The setback eventually led to the merger of three parties and a coalition government.

President Moon issued a statement appealing for legislative approval of his chief justice choice before he left the country to attend the UN General Assembly on Monday. He pleaded with the legislature not to leave the top post at the highest court empty. Ruling Democratic Party chair Choo Mi-ae, who had caused an impasse with her demeaning rhetoric towards the People’s Party, “regretted” her comments in order to prevent a political catastrophe for the fledgling administration just four months in.

The presidential office and DP asked the legislative to vote on the nomination before the term of the current chief justice ends on Sept. 24. The conservative opposition — the Liberal Korea Party that commands 107 seats and the Bareun Party with 20 seats — made their opposition to the choice clear. The People’s Party with 40 seats left the decision up to individual members. At the end of the day, the People’s Party will have the casting vote on the fate of Kim.

The ruling faction brought about the debacle. Indulging in a high approval rating, the presidential office did not apologize or become humbled even when seven candidates for ministerial level posts failed to be confirmed. Choo resorted to name-calling to lay the blame on the opposition. She ended up making enemies with the opposition camp and causing a political stalemate.

The opposition must put the confirmation to a vote as soon as possible. Kim does not have personal flaws. But the choice raises concerns for left-leaning court rulings. Lawmakers must cast their vote based on their conscience and judgment in consideration of national interests and constitutional rights instead of party interests and public opinion.

JoongAng Ilbo, Sept. 19, Page 34