The New Power Party (NPP) yesterday proposed holding confirmation hearings on President Tsai Ying-wen’s (蔡英文) nominees to the Council of Grand Justices after the passage of amendments to the Act Governing the Exercise of Legislative Power (立法院職權行使法).
“Since the [legislature’s Judiciary and Organic Laws and Statutes] Committee has completed its review of the proposed amendments, we urge all party caucuses to pass them into law before starting a review of the nominees. Given that there is already a consensus, would not conducting the reviews within the framework of the amendments be more complete and rigorous?” NPP caucus convener Hsu Yung-ming (徐永明) said during a meeting with Tsai’s nominee for Judicial Yuan president, Hsu Tzong-li (許宗力), who visited party offices with six other grand justice nominees.
“This is important, as it guarantees the right of all legislators to participate in the review, especially as there had not been enough time in the past [to conduct reviews],” he said.
“We do not want to see a situation in which time becomes pressing and the review process gets constrained because of an early voting date,” he added.
The proposed amendments would mandate that judicial nominees undergo at least one month of official legislative review prior to confirmation, with individual reviews being conducted and a roll call held for the confirmation vote.
Committee review of the amendments was largely completed during the previous legislative session, with an official proclamation by a committee coconvener the final step before they are sent to the general assembly.
While committee coconvener Lin Wei-chou (林為洲), a Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislator, has called for the amendments to be passed before new grand justice candidates are considered, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) has said that could delay plans for the holding of a national conference on judicial reform, which President Tsai has promised to call.
Ker last week said he favored holding five review meetings — including public hearings — in four days to speed up confirmations.
“I can understand his concerns, but the national affairs conference is not scheduled until next year, so there should be no conflict,” Hsu said, adding that extra reviews would not delay the conference as long as votes were held by December, when the legislative session ends.
Tsai nominated Hsu Tzong-li for Judicial Yuan president after her previous candidate, Public Functionary Disciplinary Sanction Commission Chief Commissioner Hsieh Wen-ting (謝文定), withdrew amid criticism over his role during the KMT authoritarian era.
However, Hsu Tzong-li’s nomination has also been questioned, because he had previously served on the council.
The Constitution forbids grand justices from holding consecutive terms, with some legal academics maintaining that the “no consecutive terms” provision should be interpreted as “once in a lifetime.”
Tsai’s national affairs conference is expected to focus on new measures to increase civic participation in court decisions, following the failure of efforts by the previous administration to introduce an “advisory jury” system.
The judicial nominations are also important because of expectations that the recently passed Act Governing the Handling of Ill-gotten Properties by Political Parties and Their Affiliate Organizations (政黨及其附隨組織不當取得財產處理條例) will reach the Council of Grand Justices for constitutional review.
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