POSTS BY Marcin Matczak

Who’s next? On the Future of the Rule of Law in Poland, and why President Duda will not save it

With the latest draft laws about the judiciary, the Law and Justice party (PiS) has crossed yet another line. President Duda’s announcement of a veto appears on first sight to present an obstacle to PiS’ march towards completely unrestricted, unitary state power. In this post, I will examine first what effects the PiS drafts will have on the independence of the judiciary by the hands of PiS and then, whether or not President Duda’s so-called veto holds what it seems to promise.

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How to Demolish an Independent Judiciary with the Help of a Constitutional Court

On 20 June, the Polish Constitutional Tribunal, with three anti-judges among its members, decided that certain provisions of the Act on the National Council of the Judiciary of Poland were unconstitutional. By doing so, the Tribunal unanimously conceded to the motion of the Minister of Justice, who had questioned those provisions in the course of work on reform of the National Council of the Judiciary. The reason why the current Polish Government unexpectedly suspended the process of usurping control of the national judicial system in order to enlist the help of the constitutional court can be understood with the help of a metaphor.

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Self-defence of public institutions in the Polish constitutional crisis

Nicholas Barber’s paper “Self-Defence for Institutions” provides a useful tool for analysing the complex relationship between the branches of government, in particular between the most dangerous and the least dangerous ones: the legislative and the judicial. This paper sets out to elaborate the theoretical tool proposed by Barber and to show that the elaborated tool has a better explanatory value than the original when applied to real-world circumstances. The real-world case examined in this paper is the constitutional crisis that Poland has undergone for the last 18 months.

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An Eye for an Eye: Law as an Instrument of Revenge in Poland

You question our judges, we question yours: This tit-for-tat strategy has recently been redeployed by the Polish governing party PiS and now jeopardizes the Supreme Court. The message is clear: whoever wishes to use their legal powers against the government can be sure the government will strike back.

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A Polish Marbury v. Madison?

Has the new President of the Polish Constitutional Tribunal been lawfully appointed? This question is at the core of the latest act of the ongoing judicial drama in Poland. The Warsaw Court of Appeals has now referred this question to the Polish Supreme Court. Civil courts are called upon to at least partially fill the gap left by the subjugated Constitutional Tribunal in safeguarding the rule of law in Poland.

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Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal under PiS control descends into legal chaos

Immediately after the governing Law and Justice party in Poland established its control over the Constitutional Tribunal, the court has plunged into a whole number of legal imbroglios undermining its authority and calling into question the legality of its verdicts. The new President’s nomination is contested even by a supposed ally, and the remaining "old" judges seem to have adopted a strategy of passive resistance. This is probably what Law and Justice wanted to achieve: it is much easier to govern without a strong constitutional court.

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