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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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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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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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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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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Statement by the former presidents of the Constitutional Tribunal: Marek Safjan, Jerzy Stępień, Bohdan Zdziennicki and Andrzej Zoll

Four former presidents of the beleaguered Polish Constitutional Tribunal have issued a powerful statement calling on the legal community and the President to defend the Court and, indeed, the constitutional order of the Republic.

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Is the EU Commission’s Rule of Law Fight about Poland already lost?

In ten days, the deadline set by the EU Commission to Poland in the current stand-off about the Polish constitutional crisis will expire. A lot is at stake for both sides. In Warsaw few expect that the Commission will still be able to keep the ruling party from having it their way.

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