Sun, Sep 04, 2016 - Page 3 News List

Hsu Tzong-li’s nomination unconstitutional: judges

By Alison Hsiao  /  Staff reporter

Shilin District Court Chief Judge Hung Ying-hua (洪英花) yesterday questioned President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) nomination of former grand justice Hsu Tzong-li (許宗力) as Judicial Yuan president, saying a re-assumption of the position would contravene the Constitution.

At a news conference “to warn against nepotism in the nation’s judiciary,” Hung said that while Hsu upholds that the Constitution only stipulates that candidates cannot hold the position for two consecutive terms and does not explicitly prohibit re-assumption, “according to official documents regarding the Constitution-amending process [in 1997], what the Constitution means by ‘no consecutive terms’ is precisely ‘once in a lifetime.’”

The draft amendment used the examples of Germany and Italy to support the change that called for the injunction against consecutive terms, “and both German and Italian grand justices, with terms of 12 years and nine years respectively, are not allowed to be appointed for consecutive terms, which means no reappointments,” she said.

Hung also cited then-National Assembly member Thomas Peng (彭錦鵬) as saying during the amendment process that the reasoning behind the ban of serving consecutive terms was to “rule out the possibility of grand justices harboring the desire of reappointment, which would adversely affects their work of Constitution interpretation.”

Hung also quoted then-National Assembly member Yang Min-hua (楊敏華) as saying that the impossibility of consecutive terms would “prevent [grand justices] from hoping that they could enjoy a lifetime of prestige and prosperity, so that they would interpret the Constitution according to their true consciences.”

Keelung District Court Judge Chen Chih-hsiang (陳志祥) seconded Hung’s argument, saying that the 1997 constitutional amendments clearly state that: “Each grand justice of the Judicial Yuan shall serve a term of eight years, independent of the order of appointment to office, and shall not serve consecutive terms.”

Chen said the fact that “independent of the order of appointment” means that there should be no reappointment whatsoever regardless of whether there terms are consecutive or not.

Even if re-assumption of the office is practicable, “shouldn’t the interval be at least eight years instead of Hsu’s five years?” Chen asked, adding: “If five years is okay, how about five days?”

The third issue raised by Chen was that insofar as Hsu also acknowledged that there are concerns involving constitutionality over his reappointment, “the doubt of how [Hsu] could guide judicial reforms [pledged by the president] in the capacity of Judicial Yuan president therefore arises.”

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