The Constitutional Court of Korea () is an independent and specialised court in South Korea
, whose primary role is the reviewing of constitutionality
under the Constitution of the Republic of Korea
. It also has administrative law
functions such as ruling on competence disputes between governmental entities, giving final decisions on impeachment
s, and making judgments on the dissolution of political parties
The Constitution guarantees independent status and power of the Constitutional Court in a separate chapter apart from the Legislative, the Executive and the Judiciary. According to separation of powers, the Court exercises its authority given by the Constitution along with the National Assembly, President and the Supreme Court, making it on a par with the other supreme institutions of the nation.
Last resort for Constitutional disputes
The Constitutional Court has jurisdiction over constitutional review of statutes, constitutional complaints, competence disputes between governmental entities, impeachment of high-ranking government officials and dissolution of political parties. A decision of the Constitutional Court on the above issues binds all state agencies and local governments, and cannot be appealed.
Guardian of the Constitution
The Court protects the Constitution through legal procedures. In the course of adjudication on the constitutionality of statutes, impeachment, dissolution of a political party, competence disputes and constitutional complaints, the Court interprets and applies the Constitution to resolve constitutional disputes and prevent its violation.
Protection of basic rights
The Court assures the basic rights of the people. When a basic right is infringed upon by the exercise or non-exercise of the government power, the Court declares such use of government power unconstitutional, thereby protecting the basic right. In case a statute is deemed to infringe upon the basic right, the Court rules the statute unconstitutional, invalidating it to guarantee the basic right.
Check on public authorities
If the legislature enacts a statute that is deemed unconstitutional, the Court declares the statute void through judgment on the constitutionality of statutes. It can decide whether to impeach high ranking officials of the Executive or Judiciary branches who have abused the public power. It can also order dissolution of a political party if the party acts against the basic order of democracy.
Nine Justices serve on the court, all of whom are appointed by the President
. Three of the positions are appointed directly by the President. Of the remaining six positions, three are appointed from candidates nominated by the Chief Justice
of the Supreme Court
, and three are appointed from candidates elected by the National Assembly
. In addition, the head of the court is chosen by the President, with the consent of the National Assembly.
Justices of the Constitutional Court are prohibited from joining political parties and engaging in political activities by Article 112(2) of the Constitution. In addition, Justices of the Constitutional Court are prohibited by law from running businesses, holding other public offices, and being otherwise employed.
Justices are required to retire at age 70.
The Court’s administrative affairs are managed and supervised by the Court Administration. The Secretary General, currently Park Jong Mun
, under the direction of the President, oversees the administrative works of the Court, directs and supervises the public employees under his or her authority, and attends National Assembly sessions or cabinet meetings to make statements on the Court’s administrative issues. The Deputy Secretary General assists the Secretary General and acts on behalf of the Secretary General if he/she is unable to perform his/her duties for reasons.
The Court Administration consists of the Planning and Coordination Office, the Administration Management Bureau, the Judgment Affairs Bureau, the Information and Materials Bureau and the Executive Director of Public Information Office.
Planning and Coordination Office is responsible for establishing major plans, budgeting and accounting, assessing and auditing works, enacting and revising the Court rules and coordinating international relations and exchanges.
Administration Management Bureau is responsible for events, protocol, courthouse security, facility management, procurement, expenditure, HR and training, newly building and extension of courthouse and facility maintenance.
Judgment Affairs Bureau is responsible for processing cases filed to the Court, civil service and release of information to the public, improvement or development of the constitutional adjudication system and preservation and management of archives.
Information and Materials Bureau compiles and publishes materials regarding constitutional adjudication, oversees IT projects and runs the library.
Executive Director of Public Information Office produces and distributes news releases, provides information on significant cases and events, generates promotional materials and operates a courthouse tour program.
The rapporteur judges may serve renewable terms of 10 years and shall retire at the age of 60. A newly appointed rapporteur judge shall serve assistant rapporteur judgeship for three years as a special public official before being appointed as a rapporteur judge in consideration of their performance during the period. The rapporteur judges are divided into two groups. One consists of those who are assigned to Justices and are responsible for preliminary review of constitutional complaints and also cases allocated to the full bench. The other is composed of those not assigned to Justices and are separated into sub-groups of specialized fields.
Adjudication on the constitutionality of statutes
This is a system that nullifies any statute that has been found unconstitutional by the Court. It is a core component of constitutional adjudication, by providing a mechanism to protect the Constitution against arbitrary legislation.
A constitutional complaint is a system where anyone whose basic rights guaranteed under the Constitution have been infringed upon by public authorities may seek relief by filing a complaint to the Constitutional Court. Both natural person and juridical person may lodge a constitutional complaint. While in other adjudications of the Court jurisdiction, the National Assembly, Administration, ordinary courts or local governments are the claimants, an individual becomes the claimant in a constitutional complaint to pursue a direct remedy for basic rights infringement. Therefore, it is one of the key mechanisms to assure basic rights. With the introduction of the constitutional complaint, democracy took an important step forward, and it also has contributed to promoting constitutional adjudications.
Adjudication on competence dispute
When conflicts arise between state and local governments and agencies about the duties and authorities of each institution, it not only endangers the principle of checks and balances between public powers, but also risks paralyzing an important government function. As this may pose a threat to the basic rights of citizens, a systematic coordinating mechanism is required. The Constitution of Korea empowered the Constitutional Court to judge on conflicts between national institutions and local governments regarding competence and scope thereof, as part of a function to safeguard the Constitution.
Adjudication on impeachment
High ranking officials of the administration or judiciary, who are not subject to prosecution or disciplinary action under the general legal system, may be subject to impeachment adjudication. The National Assembly passes a motion for impeachment when officials whose status are guaranteed by statute are found to have committed a grave crime while performing their official duties, and the following impeachment decision removes the persons from office. This system protects the Constitution from being violated by such high ranking officials.
Adjudication on dissolution of a political party
A political party exercises great influence on the people’s forming political will and intention. If its objectives and activities run counter to the basic order of democracy specified in the Constitution, the political party should be dissolved. This jurisdiction is assigned to the Constitutional Court to protect the Constitution as well as protect political parties from arbitrary decisions of the Executive.
The case administered by the Constitutional Court has a case number in the form . For example, the case number of the case of "Case on Defamation against the President" whose decision date is 26 December 2013 is "2009Hun-Ma747".
It is the year of the day the case was billed. Before 2000, only two digits after the year, and four digits after the year.
It is the classification of the case which is the case goes into. It is made up of two letters, the first letter is 'Hun'. This represents the Constitutional Court is responsible for this case. The second letter consists of 'Ka' to 'A'(Ka, Na, Da, Ra, Ma, Ba, Sa, A). In the case of the Constitutional Court, there shall be ‘Ka’ to ‘Ba’ in the order of Article 111, Paragraph 1 of the Constitution of the Republic of Korea. In other words, if the case of the judgement of the unconstitutional law by the court's request, 'Ka' is assigned, 'Na' is the judgement of the case of the impeachment judgment, 'Da' is the judgment of the case of the dissolution of the political party, and ‘Ra’ is the judgement of the case of Competence disputes between State agencies, between State agencies and local governments, and between local governments. The Constitutional Appeal under Article 68 (1) of the law of Constitutional Court Act is ‘Ma’ and under Article 68 (2) of the law of Constitutional Court Act is ‘Ba’. In addition, various application cases are 'Sa' and various special cases are accompanied by 'A'.
Progress numbers should be serialized in the order of time of receiving bill during the year.
This is the constitutional case aggregate table until 09 Feb 2021.
Footnotes of table
1. This type of "Constitutionality of Statutes" case refers to the constitutionality of statutes cases brought by ordinary courts, i.e., any court other than the Constitutional Court.
2. "Unconstitutional": Used in Constitutionality of Laws cases.
3. "Nonconformity" : This conclusion means the Court acknowledges a law's unconstitutionality but merely requests the National Assembly to revise it by a certain period while having the law remain effective until that time.
4. "Conditionally Unconstitutional": In cases challenging the constitutionality of a law, the Court prohibits a particular way of interpretation of a law as unconstitutional, while having other interpretations remain constitutional.
5. "Conditionally Constitutional": This means that a law is constitutional if it is interpreted according to the designated way. This is the converse of "Unconstitutional, in a certain context". Both are regarded as decisions of "partially unconstitutional".
6. "Upholding": This conclusion is used when the Court accepts a Constitutional Complaint which does not include a constitutionality of law issue.
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