President Duda is Destroying the Rule of Law instead of Fixing it

Were the president of any country to propose acts of law that remove almost half of the members of its supreme court, interrupt the constitutional term of office of the chairperson of such court, give himself the right to appoint a new chairperson of the court, and finally, interrupt the constitutionally defined term of office of a judicial council responsible for appointing judges, the consequences of such manifestly unconstitutional solutions would be massive public opposition and accusations of a coup d’état.  And yet in Poland, where this is exactly what is happening, the President’s proposals are met with understanding.  Why?  Because they are perceived as better than the even more unconstitutional proposals put forward earlier by the ruling party, Law and Justice. 

Continue Reading →

Farewell to the Separation of Powers – On the Judicial Purge and the Capture in the Heart of Europe

After the cautious and carefully prepared dismantling of the Polish Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court’s independence was now swept away in the twinkling of an eye. Late at night on Wednesday, July 12, 2017, a draft law virtually constituting an overnight demolition of the Supreme Court was proposed. This amendment heralds the death knell for the rule of law in Poland.

Continue Reading →

Die aktuellste Justizreform in Polen: ist dies das endgültige Ende der Rechtsstaatlichkeit?

Während der Streit um den Verfassungsgerichtshof aus polnischer Sicht als mittlerweile beendet gilt, versucht die Europäische Union eine passende Lösung zu finden, die in der Empfehlung der Kommission geäußerten Forderungen durchzusetzen. Die regierende Partei „Recht und Gerechtigkeit“ beschließt jedoch in der Zwischenzeit weitere Justizreformen, die genauso, wie das umstrittene Verfassungsgerichtshofgesetz, gegen die Grundsätze der Europäischen Union aus Art. 2 EUV, vor allem gegen die Rechtsstaatlichkeit und Demokratie, verstoßen können.

Continue Reading →

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

Last November, the former presidents of the Polish Constitutional Tribunal issued a joint statement to protest against the subjugation of the Tribunal. Now, as the PiS government is about to effectively bring the entire judiciary under their control, they speak up again.

Continue Reading →

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.

Continue Reading →

“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.

Continue Reading →