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Posted : 2012-02-22 15:50
Updated : 2012-02-22 15:50

Constitutional Court pressures parliament to fill up vacancy

The Constitutional Court urged the National Assembly Wednesday to swiftly fill a vacant seat on its nine-member bench after lawmakers rejected a nomination earlier this month.

The seat has been vacant for more than seven months since its former holder retired. The main opposition party designated a successor in June, but the ruling Saenuri Party voted against the nomination this month, citing the candidate's ideological stance.

On Wednesday, the court's Chief Justice Lee Kang-kook sent a letter to the Assembly, calling for the swift nomination of a new candidate. It is the first time the court has expressed its opinion through an open letter since it was established in 1988.

The Constitutional Court is composed of nine justices with a six-year tenure, three of whom are appointed from nominees selected by the National Assembly.

"Electing three Constitutional Court judges is the National Assembly's constitutional right, duty and responsibility to the people," Lee said in the letter delivered to the Parliamentary Speaker's office.

"The court asks the parliament to promptly proceed with the nomination of the new judge according to the Constitution and the legitimate procedure," he said.

Time is running short for this parliament as its session ends in May after new representatives are elected in the April polls.

"Although the 18th National Assembly's term is nearing its end, (lawmakers) are not making efforts to solve the problem, sparking concerns over a protracted vacancy on the bench," Lee said, describing the current situation as "unconstitutional."

"The absence of one judge means more beyond one vacancy, and could distort court decisions," he added. (Yonhap)

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