Constitutional Court president’s term ends, leaving eight justices
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Constitutional Court president’s term ends, leaving eight justices

Park Han-chul…, the president of Korea’s
Constitutional Court steps down after completing his six-year term. Kim Jung-soo explains what this could mean
for the ongoing impeachment trial. On the last day of his six-year term on the
Constitutional Court, outgoing court president Park Han-chul urged the remaining eight justices
to concentrate their efforts and come up with a swift decision on the legality of the motion
to impeach President Park Geun-hye, which was passed by the National Assembly on December
9th. “The world is changing rapidly, but the country’s
president has had her duties suspended for more than two months. The remaining justices must resolve this situation
as soon as possible for the national good.” Although the court is now deprived of one
justice, the number of justices needed for the motion to be upheld remains fixed at six,
while the number needed for the motion to be voted down decreases proportionally to
the remaining number of justices,… which means it has now become more difficult for
the motion to be upheld. Under normal circumstances, at least six of
the nine justices would need to vote to uphold the impeachment motion, while four dissenting
votes would be needed for it to be rejected. This means 66-point-7 percent support is needed
for the motion to be upheld and 33-percent to reject it. But now with just eight justices, six of the
eight are still needed for the motion to be upheld, while only three dissenting votes
are needed for the motion to be rejected, which means the proportion of the court needed
to reject the motion is just 25 percent. And that’s not accounting for the fact that
one more justice’s term will end on March 13th. When Justice Lee Jung-mi leaves, that means
only two dissenting votes will be needed for the impeachment motion to be rejected. The outgoing court president has previously
acknowledged the urgency of the situation and said the court would do its best to reach
a verdict before that date. On Tuesday, he also addressed the issue of
constitutional revision, which has emerged amid calls to change the country’s single,
five-year presidential term. He cautioned that any changes to the Constitution
must be made for the benefit of society and must not be politically motivated. The Constitutional Court will hold a special
session on Wednesday to choose a new acting president, with the likely favorite expected
to be outgoing justice Lee Jung-mi. Kim Jung-soo, Arirang News.

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