Former Justice Lai Shares Views on Constitutional Interpretation as SCU Chair Prof

  • 10/02/2018
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  • Headline News
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  • Information provided by The Secretariat
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  • Written by Campus Reporter(s) The Secretariat, School of Law
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  • Photo by The Secretariat

On October 2nd, former Justice of Judicial Yuan In-Jaw Lai (賴英照) received warm welcome as a chair professor, and delivered a speech on “the constitutional interpretation over same-sex marriage in the U.S.” at Soochow’s Downtown Campus.

SCU vice president Bau-Tscheng Dung (董保城) honored Lai as a knowledgeable and versatile professional who had served in several important posts including vice premier, grand justice, president of judicial yuan, etc. Dung considered it a privilege for Soochow to have Lai as chair professor, whose expertise in academic research and legal practice will sure broaden law school students’ horizon and open a new page for Soochow University.

Dean of School of Law Kuan-Yu Cheng (鄭冠宇) brought up Lai’s early-day connection with Soochow as Lai offered classes in the School four decades ago, benefiting many students including Cheng himself. Cheng hoped younger students and faculty of SCU could learn about Lai’s stories and experiences in his life by attending his classes in person.

Lai felt glad to be back to teach at Soochow again, saying he missed those days when he commuted to and from Waishuangshi Campus and Downtown Campus. When receiving a bouquet in the ceremony, Lai presented it in the mid-air to his late mentor Mo Li (李模), whom he thanked so much for introducing him to Soochow in the very beginning.

After the ceremony, Lai shared his views on constitutional interpretation over gay marriage in the U.S. by using the U.S. Justice Anthony Kennedy as an example.

Kennedy announced his retirement from the U.S. supreme court this year, said Lai, and the New York Times, in response to the shocking news, published in April an editorial titled “Please Stay, Justice Kennedy. America Needs You.” As one of the nine justices, his stance has usually been pivotal as the other 8 take on conservative and liberal views in a 4-to-4 split. Though mostly in favor of a conservative standpoint, Kennedy had sided with liberals in some important issues such as same-sex marriage and abortion rights. Therefore, his retirement may likely turn the supreme court into a conservative one.

Even though a legal case is judged according to the law, different grand justices, however, may render different interpretations of the Constitution. Neither the wording of the law nor the constitutional intention nor precedents can frame the Constitution, but the value of the justice who interprets it.

As Kennedy retired, the same-sex marriage case would likely be heard mainly by conservative justices, which may yield a totally opposite outcome on such a controversial and critical issue. And this explains why a single justice’s staying or retirement could have a deep impact on a trial and the related interpretation of the Constitution.