President Tsai Ing-wen announced her nomination of four justices on Tuesday to fill upcoming vacancies on the Constitutional court, including two female judges. Lin Chia-lung, Secretary General to the President, said five out of 15 Grand Justices will be women if the legislature approves the decision, the highest number in history.

With four Grand Justices set to step down in September at the end of their term, President Tsai formed a selection panel in March to identify candidates for the prominent positions.

The nominees include Tsai Tsai-Chen, a Supreme Court judge; Chu Fu-mei, Secretary-General of the Control Yuan; Chen Chung-wu, a distinguished law professor at National Taiwan University; and Yu Bo-hsiang, Chairman of the Foundation for the Restoration of Rights of Victims of National Illegal Acts During Authoritarian Rule, an organization established by the Executive Yuan.

The Grand Justices serving on the Constitutional Court are responsible for issuing constitutional interpretations and, if necessary, impeaching the president.

Currently, all 11 Grand Justices, including the President of the Judicial Yuan, Hsu Tzong-Li, were nominated by President Tsai. This has raised concern among opposition parties and civic organizations about judicial independence.

Kuomintang legislator Lee Te-wei said it’s a “tragedy” that all Grand Justices are nominated by the president. He added that two out of the four nominees have specific ideological leanings.

Lee said that the people of Taiwan want an independent and neutral judiciary, but the ruling party has “put its hands into the judicial system.”

In response, Lin said the nominees have to go through a nomination process. The president exercises the power of nomination based on the opinion of the selection panel, in accordance with the Constitution. Lin emphasized that this process is crucial to ensuring judicial independence, and appointing new judges is essential for protecting the Constitution and the fundamental rights of the public.

In March, the Taiwan Jury Association, a judicial reform group, called for constitutional amendments regarding the rule that grants the president the authority to appoint Grand Justices. The group argued that this practice “goes against the constitutional order, democratic values, and the independence of the court.” They suggested that President Tsai involve the vice president, the Speaker of the Legislative Yuan, opposition parties, and an independent body in the selection process to ensure diverse opinions and voices are represented in the court.

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TNL Editor: Bryan Chou (@thenewslensintl)

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