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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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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Enemies of the People?

"Enemies of the People": that is, according to the Daily Mail, what the High Court judges are. Joseph Stalin would have been wildly amused by this way of putting things… Leaving aside such 30s reminiscences, it seems to me too simple to reduce this phenomenon solely to the disgracefulness of the British boulevard press and Tory backbenchers. There is something more fundamental going on. Not only in the United Kingdom. But in the entire Western democratic constitutional space.

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Farewell to the Polish Constitutional Court

The Law of July, 7th 2016 on the Polish Constitutional Court leaves no doubts that the parliamentary majority lead by Law and Justice party (PiS) is not holding back and is determined to see its plan through to make sure that Court is finally tamed and incapacitated. The Law signals the death knell for the Court. The institution once recognized as powerful, efficient and independent from whatever powers that be is left at the mercy of the politicians, and unable to effectively wield its power of judicial review. Most importantly, the Law will make it impossible for the Court to provide an effective check on the excesses of parliamentary majority.

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Political Reductionism at its Best: the EU Institutions’ Response to the Brexit Referendum

In their reaction to the Brexit referendum, some EU institutions have shown a troubling understanding of law – law as the mere crystallisation of power relationships, norms as just technicalities, annoying obstacles standing between the political actors and their legitimate goals. This is profoundly wrong and dangerous.

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Für eine Verfassungskrise gibt es keine politische Lösung

Was Polen will, kann die EU-Kommission nicht akzeptieren, und umgekehrt. Nach Wochen des "konstruktiven Dialogs" (Kommissionsvize Frans Timmermans) gibt es immer noch überhaupt kein Zeichen des Aufeinanderzugehens. Ist das schlimm? Im Gegenteil.

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Die Kanzlerin schützt den Rechtsstaat. Oder wie?

In einem Rechtsstaat, so Kanzlerin Angela Merkel in Sachen Böhmermann, sei „es nicht Sache der Regierung, sondern von Staatsanwaltschaften und Gerichten, das Persönlichkeitsrecht und andere Belange gegen die Presse- und Kunstfreiheit abzuwägen“. Wieso eigentlich nicht? Warum gibt es dann überhaupt ein einschlägiges Ermächtigungsdelikt? Tatsächlich ist nach Art. 1 Abs. 3 GG die Bundesregierung durchaus verpflichtet, eine entsprechende Grundrechtsabwägung vorzunehmen.

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How to protect European Values in the Polish Constitutional Crisis

Does the Polish development concern us — the European citizens and the European institutions we have set up? There is a functional and a normative argument to state that it does. The normative argument is that the European Union organizes a community of states that profess allegiance to a set of fundamental values—among others, democracy, the rule of law, and human rights. The functional reason is that the European legal space presupposes mutual trust. European law operates on the presumption that all institutions are law-abiding. Otherwise, the legal edifice crumbles.

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Paradoxes of Constitutionalisation: Lessons from Poland

This comment aims to explain a number of paradoxes of constitutionalization on the example of the current constitutional crisis in Poland. It attempts to demonstrate that this crisis is not only political in its nature, but structural as it results from the inherent tension between the concept of rule of law, democracy and human rights. It is also argued that the success of constitutionalization as a global project depends on strong social endorsement of constitutional institutions and practices, including judicial review.

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Hungary’s Struggle: In a Permanent State of Exception

The Hungarian government has called for a referendum on EU relocation quota plan and declared a “nationwide migrant crisis”. The justification given by the government for these measures was the “massive immigration” which “endangers the jobs of Hungarians and redraws Hungary’s cultural and religious identity”. The argument went that, due to a “migrant crisis” the Hungarian government needed a greater room for maneuvre, not limited by constitutional constraints, in order to manage the crisis. This argument presupposes that, as a result of the migrant crisis, Hungary has ended up in a state of exception, when constitutional guarantees have to be limited or suspended; essential powers have to be concentrated in the hands of the prime minister, until the crisis is overcome.

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