The presidential election in Taiwan this past March was marred by spoiled ballots, a mysterious assassination attempt on incumbent President Chen Shiu-ban, and a recount, which an American news outlet described as "positively Floridian." The Judicial Yuan, the highest judicial body in Taiwan, was called to consider the election results in which President Chen won by a margin of 0.2 percent, or 30,000 votes. Pi Hu Hsu is one of 15 new grand justices sworn in last October.
Thousands of protesters and supporters of opponent Lien Chan demanded the votes be recounted, after an electoral commission ruled 300,000 votes - 10 times the margin of victory - invalid. The high court's order that contested ballots be sealed until the matter could be resolved through the judicial process was met mostly with peaceful demonstrations.
Justice Hsu's appointment to the court, and that of her two fellow women colleagues, makes her one of seven women to serve on Taiwan's Judicial Yuan. Over the past five decades, only four other female grand justices sat on the court. Justice Hsu, a former Taiwan Supreme Court judge, remains rather nonplussed by the historical precedent her appointment may represent.
"I have witnessed many chances [for] gender equality for women beyond the judiciary in Taiwan after I received my LL.M. in 1979," she says. Justice Hsu graduated from the law school at National Taiwan University in 1970 before receiving her master's in law from Columbia. After a one-year term as public prosecutor, she began hearing civil and criminal cases, accruing more than 29 years of experience on the bench. As grand justice, she will serve one non-renewable term for eight years. The body meets three times a week to review petitions or deliberate interpretations of a constitution modeled primarily on those of the United States and other Western nations.
A recount of presidential election votes was conducted in May and failed to reveal any widespread discrepancies with the original result. Nearly 38,000 votes were ruled invalid, but with only 16,000 of them cast for Mr. Lien, President Chen, an advocate for Taiwan's independence, continues in his second term.
Apart from her work on the bench, Justice Hsu also taught intellectual property law for more than 20 years. She credits her studies at the Law School with sharpening her methods of legal analysis and induction and profoundly affecting her career as a jurist. She continues to be a committed supporter of legal studies at the Law School.