Sententia non existens – the future of jurisprudence of the Polish Constitutional Tribunal?

One of the latest topics in the debate on the future of constitutional control in Poland concerns the possibility and the need of common court judges to directly apply the Constitution. This possibility has already existed in theory – according to the Article 8 para 2 of the Constitution of Poland, the provisions of the Constitution shall apply directly, unless the Constitution provides otherwise. However, in practice, until now in case when the conformity of the normative act with the Constitution was questioned in particular case, the court has always referred the question of law the Constitutional Tribunal. The need to come back to the discussion on direct applicability of the Constitution stems from the questionable legality of some Constitutional Tribunal rulings in connection with the incorrect appointment of three so-called “quasi-judges” in December 2015.

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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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Poland and the European Commission, Part III: Requiem for the Rule of Law

On 20 February 2017, the Polish government has replied to the European Commission’s rule of law findings. That reply is so clearly absurd, rude and full of ‘alternative facts’ that the case to trigger the sanction mechanism in Art 7 TEU promptly is more compelling than ever. It is time for Member State governments to get their act together and make explicit their disapproval of a government that finds it acceptable not only to violate its national Constitution and EU values in plain sight but also to bully and disrespect EU representatives such as Frans Timmermans and Donald Tusk.

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An Explicit Constitutional Change by Means of an Ordinary Statute? On a Bill Concerning the Reform of the National Council of the Judiciary in Poland

Towards the end of January 2017, the Polish Ministry of Justice introduced a bill reforming the current legal status of the National Council of the Judiciary. If passed as proposed, the bill would seriously undermine the independence of the judiciary in Poland.

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In Judges We Trust? A long overdue Paradigm Shift within the Polish Judiciary (Part I)

The Polish Judiciary is under duress, no question. However, it is not only the pending Supreme Court decision that may determine their fate. Polish judges need a new approach to judicial interpretation and the role of judges as a whole.

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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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Constitutional Review as an Indispensable Element of the Rule of Law? Poland as the Divided State between Political and Legal Constitutionalism

The power of constitutional courts appears to be a political matter which depends on the political majority and public support notwithstanding their desirability in certain political contexts, in particular in countries with relatively young democratic traditions and authoritarian pasts. This might not be the best news for modern constitutionalism but one we need to be aware of, in particular in times of the recent re-rise of populist movements, illiberal disenchantment, and anti-establishment rhetoric – not only 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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Poland and the European Commission, Part II: Hearing the Siren Song of the Rule of Law

As Poland has careened away from the rule of law, the European Commission has struggled to work out its response. Given Europe’s multiple crises at the moment, the internal affairs of a rogue government or two may seem less critical to Europe’s well being than crises that affect multiple states at the same time, like the refugee crisis, the Euro-crisis or the fallout from Brexit. But the proliferation of governments inside the EU that no longer share basic European values undermines the reason for existence of the EU in the first place.

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