Law, Politics, and Impeachment: The Impeachment of Roh Moo-Hyun from a Comparative Constitutional Perspective

30 Pages Posted: 3 Nov 2005 Last revised: 5 Oct 2007

See all articles by Youngjae Lee

Youngjae Lee

Fordham University School of Law


In March 2004, the National Assembly of South Korea impeached President Roh Moo-hyun and brought about an immediate suspension of Roh's presidency. Two months later, the Constitutional Court of Korea restored the status quo by dismissing the impeachment and reinstating the President. This episode marks the first time in the history of modern constitutionalism that a president impeached by a legislative body has been reinstated by a judicial body. This Article focuses on one slice of this remarkable turn of events: its constitutional dimension from the perspective of comparative constitutional law. After explaining the Constitutional Court's decision, this Article discusses the significance of the ruling for three broad questions of comparative constitutional law: judicial decisionmaking as a distinct form of constitutional interpretation; the dual nature - legal and political - of the impeachment process and the proper role of the courts in it; and historical, political, and institutional factors that lead to the doctrine of judicial supremacy. Comparisons to the U.S. model of presidential impeachment are made throughout the Article.

Keywords: Impeachment, Judicial Review, Constitutional Court of Korea

Suggested Citation

Lee, Youngjae, Law, Politics, and Impeachment: The Impeachment of Roh Moo-Hyun from a Comparative Constitutional Perspective. American Journal of Comparative Law, Vol. 53, 2005, Fordham Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 97, Available at SSRN:

Youngjae Lee (Contact Author)

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