Defamation of Justice – Propositions on how to evaluate public attacks against the Judiciary

Public debate is an essential element of a democratic society. While this debate should not spare the judiciary, public attacks against the judiciary of a critical intensity can be observed in several European countries. The most recent example originates from Poland, where, in September 2017, a campaign on bill boards and on the internet was launched in support of the controversial draft acts on judicial reform. The campaign portrays judges as a "privileged cast" and as being corrupt, criminal and incompetent. Having regard to these events, it should be borne in mind that attacks against the judiciary from members of the legislative and executive can pose real threats to judicial independence and the separation of powers. This post takes these considerations as the starting point for a general discussion on how to properly evaluate public criticism of the judiciary. We suggest a frame of reference which seeks to balance the right of free speech and the legitimate interest of the judiciary to not have its legitimacy and independence abridged by political actors. In this regard, we argue that the level of scrutiny must depend on where such criticism comes from.

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Defenceless Formalists: on Abuse of Law and the Weakness of the Polish Judiciary

Poland’s constitutional crisis is caused by the power of those who attack the rule of law, but also by the weakness of those who defend it. This weakness derives from courts taking a traditional formalist approach, excluding purposive and functional argumentation and leaving themselves prone to attack by the abuse of power through the other branches of government.

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On the Slippery Slope to a ,People’s Court'

Writes Matej Avbelj in High time for popular constitutionalism!, ‘The majority in our societies seems to be increasingly disconnected with the liberal values that especially the legal academia, but also the ruling political class – at least on a declaratory level – have taken for granted…’ Living as I do in the country in which one sees an increasing distaste for the European Convention of Human Rights and regular media criticism of the ‘unelected judges’ in Strasbourg – and that despite the fact that the judges of the Court are, in fact, elected from a slate of three by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe – I cannot help wondering whether the disconnect is anything very new.

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Fighting Judicial Corruption with Constitutional Measures: the Albanian Case

No state can thrive with corrupt political and legal elites. But if lawmakers and judges are corrupt themselves, fighting corruption with legal means is all but impossible. As a step towards membership in the European Union, Albania has embedded a comprehensive reform of its anti-corruption law directly into its constitution.

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Über die Selbstrechtfertigung unabhängiger Institutionen

In der letzten Woche hörte ich auf einer Tagung den Vortrag eines höheren Beamten der EZB über die internen Entscheidungsprozeduren im Governing Council. Weil eine Publikation nicht abgesprochen ist, will ich meinen Bericht anonymisieren. Der Vortrag war affirmativ. Der Redner wies darauf hin, dass der Council Entscheidungen treffen müsse, die nicht immer angenehm wären. Dies […]

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