“2004 EU Accession” as a Founding Moment? Of lost opportunities, alienating constitutionalism and vigilant courts

Much as the liberal elites in Poland are appalled by the ruthlessness of the attack on the Constitutional Court and the Polish rule of law, they are the ones to be blamed for the civic passivity that continues to define post-transition societies in general. The truly reformative potential of 1989, and then 2004, was lost when elites neglected the importance of connecting with the “real” people beyond the magic of the big-bang moments of 1989 and 2004. This „alienating constitutionalism“ is one of the dark sides of 2004 Founding Moment, one that nobody really saw coming at the time of the EU Accession. Should the citizenry start embracing and defending the Court as „my own“, the truly powerful legacy of the 2004 Founding Moment would be discovered.

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The Commission vs Poland: The Sovereign State Is Winning 1-0

Studying Soviet legal theory is probably one of the most tedious activities imaginable, but it can teach us a great deal, sadly, about the contemporary reality in some of the Member States of the EU: a reality captured by Uładzisłaŭ Belavusaŭ’s catchy phrase ‘Belarusization’ of the EU with enviable precision. Not a single person familiar with the basics of the principle of the Rule of Law could possibly be in doubt that what is going on in Poland now is a partly Soviet-style dismantlement of the Western values of democracy and the Rule of Law. By having started its famed Pre-Article 7 Procedure against Poland the Commission made four drastic mistakes and did not move any closer to stopping Polish backsliding.

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Politik, Recht und die Rule of Law irgendwo dazwischen: zur Rechtsstaatlichkeits­debatte zwischen EU und Polen

Die polnische Regierungschefin Beata Szydło hat am Dienstag in ihrer Rede vor dem Europaparlament ein wenig Erstaunen über die europäische Aufgeregtheit um jüngste Reformen der Verfassungsgerichtsbarkeit und des öffentlich-rechtlichen Rundfunks in Polen durchblicken lassen. Trotz mehrmaliger Betonung der polnischen Souveränität musste aber auch sie einsehen: Brüssel hat die rechtliche Kompetenz, sich in bestimmten Grundwertefragen politisch auch auf nationaler Ebene einzubringen. Das Pech der polnischen Regierung – und gleichzeitige Glück des polnischen Volkes – ist der augenscheinliche Beschluss der Kommission, einem vormals politischen Totschlagargument nun endlich konkrete, normativ verwendbare Schärfe zukommen zu lassen.

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Polish Constitutional crisis goes to Europe – or does it?

The latest move by the Polish government in its attempt to disembowel the Constitutional Court looks, on first sight, like a conciliatory gesture: The Minister of Foreign Affairs has submitted two proposals amending the Act on the Constitutional Court to examination by the Venice Commission, the expert body on constitutional issues of the Council of Europe. Does this turn to Europe signal a change of heart in the revolutionary zeal on the part of the Polish government? Not so fast. On closer inspection, the request appears conspicuously ambiguous. The motion does not even specify in sufficient detail what text(s) the Venice Commission is to provide its opinion on.

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Chess-boxing around the Rule of Law: Polish Constitutionalism at Trial

In the conflict between the Polish government and the constitutional court, we are watching a sort of chess-boxing, a hybrid game consisting of rounds in chess and boxing, where the parties attempt to outsmart the opponent and if this doesn’t help, they simply punch. Contravention of the division of powers and disregard for the idea of limited government has repeatedly been perpetrated by the ruling party Law & Justice and “their” President Duda. It remains to be seen if the attempts made are understood by the perpetrators as a tool to facilitate party’s short-term objectives or as an ultimate goal to redesign Poland’s institutional order.

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“Court-packing” in Warsaw: The Plot Thickens

The wheels of Polish constitutional upheaval keep rolling relentlessly and in one direction – to the full dismantling and paralyzing the Constitutional Court and all it stands for. However, it is not just the tempo itself of the legislative process that is out of ordinary, but the ruthlessness with which the new majority carries out its plan. A new chapter in obliterating the Court was added on 15th of December, 2015 when the majority came forward with a draft of the amendments to the Law on the Constitutional Court.

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Bruised, but not dead (yet): The Polish Constitutional Court has spoken

The current attack on the Polish Constitutional Court is unprecedented in scope, cold efficiency and intensity. It aims to paralyze and incapacitate the Court. Polish democracy is faced today with a crisis that has more to do with the lack of constitutional culture rather than deficiencies of the constitutional text. Europe will have its hands full with Poland in the days to come. Unfortunately, so far it has not shown much teeth in response to the constitutional shenanigans playing out in Poland. This must change or Warsaw will become another Budapest with Europe idly watching.

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Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal under Siege

A constitutional crisis? A coup d’état? Whatever it is Poland is going through right now, the constitutional situation is far from normal. After a fierce political brawl about the election of five new judges to the Constitutional Tribunal, that same Tribunal declared yesterday the legal basis upon which two of them were elected unconstitutional.

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Midnight Judges: Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal Caught Between Political Fronts

Many Eastern European states have seen their once glorious constitutional courts politically delegitimized in recent years. Now, Poland might join them. Hasty attempts by the outgoing majority to fill the benches of the court with judges of their choosing, and constitutionally dubious attempts by the new majority to thwart those attempts and to tamper with constitutional procedural law, threaten to inflict fatal damage to the Polish Constitutional Tribunal and its integrity.

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