POSTS BY Tomasz Tadeusz Koncewicz

Living under the unconstitutional capture and hoping for the constitutional recapture

After the unconstitutional capture of the Constitutional Tribunal in Poland, ordinary courts will have to step in to provide constitutional review. Polish judges are faced with the most fundamental challenge since 1989. Are they ready to be constitutional judges in times of constitutional emergency?

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Constitutional Capture in Poland 2016 and Beyond: What is Next?

2016 will go down in history as fundamental in the institutional history of Polish Constitutionalism. It began with an unprecedented attack on the Constitutional Tribunal, rule of law, checks and balances and judicial independence. It ends with full-blown constitutional crisis. The dramatic events in the Sejm and on the streets only corroborate that Poland is on the slippery slope towards autocracy.

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Constitutional justice in Handcuffs? Gloves are off in the Polish Constitutional Conflict

A high-ranking PiS politician has announced that those Constitutional Tribunal judges who will not bend to the will of the PiS majority will be removed from office. This marks a new step of escalation in the ongoing constitutional crisis in Poland.

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Polish Constitutional Tribunal goes down with dignity

On 11 of August 2016 the Polish Constitutional Tribunal (“Tribunal”) decided case K 39/16 in which it disqualified, for the second time in the span of 5 months, court-packing provisions contained in the Law of 22 July, 2016 on the Constitutional Tribunal. Separation of powers, judicial independence and effective functioning of the constitutional court were again the keywords that informed the analysis. After this most recent case the clock is ticking on the Tribunal and this time the self-defense by way of courageous judicial pronouncements might not be enough to survive.

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Statutory tinkering: on the Senate’s changes to the Law on the Polish Constitutional Tribunal

The infamous law on the Polish Constitutional Tribunal of July 7th has met with an outcry of criticism among constitutional scholars. Last week, the upper chamber of the Polish Parliament, the Senate, has introduced a number of changes to meet some of the concerns. On the whole the effort amounts to little more than statutory tinkering, though. The effect, the emasculation of constitutional control in Poland, remains unchanged.

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Farewell to the Polish Constitutional Court

The Law of July, 7th 2016 on the Polish Constitutional Court leaves no doubts that the parliamentary majority lead by Law and Justice party (PiS) is not holding back and is determined to see its plan through to make sure that Court is finally tamed and incapacitated. The Law signals the death knell for the Court. The institution once recognized as powerful, efficient and independent from whatever powers that be is left at the mercy of the politicians, and unable to effectively wield its power of judicial review. Most importantly, the Law will make it impossible for the Court to provide an effective check on the excesses of parliamentary majority.

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Polish Judiciary and Constitutional Fidelity: beyond the institutional “Great Yes”?

The Polish Supreme Court and the Polish Supreme Administrative Court both have published resolutions to back the Constitutional Court in its conflict with the ruling PiS majority in Parliament. The statements from Poland’s highest courts and the societal mobilization are first symptoms of a constitutional fidelity in the making.

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“Emergency Constitutional Review”: thinking the unthinkable? A Letter from America

With the constitution and the rule of law in Poland under systemic attack and the Constitutional Court weakened by the refusal of the government to publish its decisions, ordinary judges should step in and, if need be, declare unconstitutional laws inapplicable by themselves. An example for this sort of emergency constitutional review has already been set by the Polish Supreme Court in a decision of March 17th.

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The Polish Constitutional Crisis and “Politics of Paranoia”

Thanks to the growing interest in the “Polish case”, Europe should now have a clear legal understanding of what is going on in Poland and of the motives of the government: the systemic repudiation of some of the fundamental principles of Polish constitutional order, rule of law, legality, separation of powers, independence of the judiciary, supremacy of the Constitution and the monopoly of constitutional review.

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