06 Mai 2019

Open Letter in Support of Professor Wojciech Sadurski

Two months ago Armin von Bogdandy and Luke Dimitrios Spieker highlighted the plight of our colleague Wojciech Sadurski, a distinguished professor of law at the Universities of Sydney and Warsaw, and formerly at the European University Institute in Florence.  Professor Sadurski finds himself facing an array of charges and lawsuits in Poland for his outspoken criticism of the governing party, PiS.  As von Bogdandy and Spieker pointed out, such attempts to silence critics are not solely a matter of Polish law but also of European Union law and European human rights law, particularly in the context of the ongoing Article 7 TEU procedure against Poland. But matters have continued to worsen since that time for Sadurski, who has been targeted by no less than three sets of legal proceedings aimed at silencing him and punishing him for speaking out.  We write to draw attention to the legal harassment of Professor Sadurski by the Polish government and its allies, to the right of academics across the European Union to freely speak out and to criticize political leaders, and to publicly express our support for Wojciech Sadurksi.

The background is this: On 10 November 2018 Wojciech Sadurski called upon Polish citizens to boycott a so-called “Independence March” to be held in Warsaw. He tweeted: “If anyone still had any doubts, after the maneuver of the past two days this much should be clear: no honest person should go in a parade of defenders of the White race, who have hidden for a moment their “falangas” [a neo-Nazi symbol] and swastikas, in collusion with an organized criminal group PiS”.  On 13 January 2019, shortly after the murder of Gdańsk Mayor Mr Paweł Adamowicz, Sadurski tweeted that a politician was killed after he had been hounded by government media, and stated that no democrat and opposition politician should enter the premises of TVP, a public television station, which he described as a Goebbelsian media company.

These two tweets led to three currently pending cases. The first, a civil suit lodged on 21 January 2019 by PiS and signed by its President, Jarosław Kaczyński, alleged that the personal rights of PiS were affected by characterizing the party as an ‘organised criminal group’. This characterization was also said by PiS to insult thousands of its members. PiS has demanded a public apology through a pinned tweet expressing regret for breaching its good name, payment of a high fine to be donated to a charity, as well as a commitment that he would never again refer to PiS in a similar way.  The second tweet led to a criminal case dated 21 January 2019, and to a civil case dated 20 March 2019, both brought by a state-run television TVP. The argument made in these two cases is that the tweet amounts to intentional and deliberate defamation as well as adversely affecting the personal rights of the TV station through its suggestion of a link between the manner of the station’s reporting and the murder of the Mayor. TVP also argues that the tweet would have a negative impact on the TV station’s reputation and on its commercial partners, particularly its advertisers.  TVP argues that Sadurski should pay a fine, to be donated to a charity, and should publicly apologise by purchasing an expensive advertisement in a top Polish web portal.  

All three cases are currently pending.  And while we respect and support the independence of the Polish courts and hope that they will be able to perform their functions freely and without interference, ongoing measures in Poland to undermine the independence of the judiciary and to assert disciplinary political control over the courts create grave cause for concern.   

It is clear to any observer with the most elementary knowledge of EU law and the law of the European Convention on Human Rights that the three cases against Professor Sadurski will not survive the scrutiny of the Strasbourg (ECHR) or Luxembourg (EU) courts. What is happening to Wojciech Sadurski is a coordinated harassment campaign by the Polish ruling party against a well-known and respected academic who has clearly struck a nerve with his powerful critique of the situation in his native country. 

Does the Polish ruling party really want to continue this futile and expensive campaign of legal harassment through the lengthy procedural routes to the Luxembourg and Strasbourg courts, given the inevitability of further high-profile and authoritative rulings against it?  We hope not and we suggest that the rational self-interest of the Polish government should prevail.  We call upon PiS to reconsider its position and immediately drop its case against Wojciech Sadurski, and to require TVP, which is financed through public resources, to do the same with its two cases. 

We write this letter not only in support of our academic colleague Wojciech Sadurski, but also to make the broader point that any attempt to silence any one of us who writes for and reads publications such as this one is an attempt to repress and silence all of us. Freedom of expression safeguards robust criticism of governmental and political action, and all the more so in a context in which there has been widespread criticism by independent observers of the actions of the national authorities to undermine the rule of law. We write today to speak out and to stand up for that freedom.  

To co-sign this open letter, please leave a comment with your name and affiliation!

Floyd Abrams, Senior Counsel Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP and Yale Law School

Bruce Ackerman, Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science, Yale University

Alberto Alemanno, HEC Paris

Philip Alston, New York University

Jack M. Balkin, Yale Law School

Petra Bárd, Central European University 

Christine Bell, University of Edinburgh

Bojan Bugaric, Professor of Law, Department of law, Sheffield University

Gráinne de Búrca, New York University 

Daniela Caruso, Boston University 

Sujit Choudhry, WZB Social Science Center, Center for Global Constitutionalism, Berlin

Paul Craig, University of Oxford

Deirdre Curtin, Professor of European Law, European University Institute Florence 

Tom Gerald Daly, MLS Fellow, Melbourne Law School 

Bruno De Witte, Professor of European Union law, Maastricht University

Oran Doyle, Trinity College Dublin

Cynthia Estlund, New York University

Owen Fiss, Yale Law School

Janneke Gerards, Professor of Fundamental Rights Law, Utrecht University 

Laurence Gormley, University of Groningen

Samuel Issacharoff, New York University 

Gábor Halmai, European University Institute 

Aileen Kavanagh, Oxford University

R. Daniel Kelemen, Professor of Political Science and Law, Rutgers University

David Kenny, Assistant Professor Law, Trinity College Dublin

Tarun Khaitan, Associate Professor, University of Oxford/University of Melbourne

David Kinley, Professor of Human Rights Law, Sydney Law School

Claire Kilpatrick, Professor of International and European Labour and Social Law, Dean of Graduate Studies, European University Institute,Florence, Italy

Dimitry Kochenov, University of Groningen 

Tomasz Koncewicz, University of Gdańsk 

Kriszta Kovács, ELTE/WZB Berlin

Martin Krygier, Gordon Samuels Professor of Law and Social Theory, University of New South Wales

Mattias Kumm, Professor for Global Public Law, WZB Berlin & Humboldt University, Inge Rennert Professor of Law New York University

Christine Landfried, University of Hamburg 

Rick Lawson, University of Leiden

Brian Leiter, Karl N. Llewellyn Professor of Jurisprudence, Director, Center for Law, Philosophy & Human Values, University of Chicago

Susanna Mancini, Full Professor and Chair of Comparative Constitutional Law, University of Bologna

Daniel Markovits, Guido Calabresi Professor of Law, Founding Director, Center for the Study of Private Law, Yale Law School

Frank Michelman, Robert Walmsley University Professor, Emeritus Harvard University

John Morijn, University of Groningen 

Jan-Werner Mueller, Professor, Princeton University

Kalypso Nicolaïdis, Professor of International Relations, University of Oxford

Gianluigi Palombella, Professor of Applied Legal Theory and Philosophy of Law, Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa 

Laurent Pech, Middlesex University 

Vlad Perju, Professor, Boston College Law School

Richard H. Pildes, Sudler Family Professor of Constitutional Law, NYU School of Law 

Gianfranco Poggi, Professor Emeritus of Sociology, University of Virginia

Robert Post, Sterling Professor of Law, Yale Law School

Judith Resnik, Yale Law School

Susan Rose-Ackerman, Henry R. Luce Professor of Law, Emeritus, and Professorial Lecturer,Yale Law School

Michel Rosenfeld, University Professor of Law and Comparative Democracy, Justice Sydney L. Robins Professor of Human Rights, Cardozo Law School

Ruth Rubio Marin, University of Sevilla and European University Institute, Florence

Ben Saul, Challis Chair of International Law, University of Sydney and Chair of Australian Studies, Harvard University

Joanne Scott, Professor of European Union Law, European University Institute, Florence, Italy 

Kim Lane Scheppele, Princeton University

Michael Sevel, Senior Lecturer in Jurisprudence, Sydney Law School 

Maximilian Steinbeis, Verfassungsblog

Alec Stone Sweet, Centennial Professor of Law, National University of Singapore

John Tasioulas, Director, Yeoh Tiong Lay Centre for Politics, Philosophy, and Law, the Dickson Poon School of Law, King’s College London

Gábor Attila Tóth, Humboldt University Berlin 

Antoine Vauchez, Professor, Université de Paris 1-Sorbonne

Jeremy Waldron, New York University

Neil Walker, Edinburgh Law School

Kevin Walton, Director of the Julius Stone Institute of Jurisprudence, University of Sydney

Stephen Weatherill, Jacques Delors Professor of European Law Somerville College and Law Faculty University of Oxford

Jan Wouters, University of Leuven

SUGGESTED CITATION  de Búrca, Gráinne; Morijn, John: Open Letter in Support of Professor Wojciech Sadurski, VerfBlog, 2019/5/06, https://verfassungsblog.de/open-letter-in-support-of-professor-wojciech-sadurski/, DOI: 10.17176/20190517-144045-0.


  1. Samuel Moyn Mo 6 Mai 2019 at 08:55 - Reply

    Samuel Moyn, Yale University

    • Miroslaw Wyrzykowski Mo 6 Mai 2019 at 18:08 - Reply

      Mirosław Wyrzykowski
      Prof. emeritus University of Warsaw, Poland

      • John Jeremiah Cronin So 12 Mai 2019 at 14:40 - Reply

        John J Cronin,alumnus EUI

    • Iain Stewart, Macquarie University, Sydney So 4 Okt 2020 at 01:38 - Reply


  2. Henri de Waele Mo 6 Mai 2019 at 09:18 - Reply

    Henri de Waele, Radboud University Nijmegen/University of Antwerp

    • Yasmin Dawood Di 7 Mai 2019 at 15:39 - Reply

      Yasmin Dawood
      Faculty of Law, University of Toronto

  3. Eva Lohse Mo 6 Mai 2019 at 11:20 - Reply

    Eva Julia Lohse, Lehrstuhl für Öffentliches Recht, Europarecht und Rechtsvergleichung, Universität Bayreuth

  4. Raul Sanchez Urribarri Mo 6 Mai 2019 at 11:30 - Reply

    Raul Sanchez Urribarri, La Trobe University, Melbourne

    • Maciej Mi 8 Mai 2019 at 07:37 - Reply

      Truth win!

  5. Darinka Piqani Mo 6 Mai 2019 at 11:33 - Reply

    Darinka Piqani, Leiden University

    • Gavin Phillipson, University of Bristol Law School. Mo 6 Mai 2019 at 17:13 - Reply

      I fully support Prof Sadurski.

    • Adam Shinar Mo 6 Mai 2019 at 22:56 - Reply

      Adam Shinar, Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya

  6. Xavier Arbos Marin Mo 6 Mai 2019 at 11:55 - Reply

    Xavier Arbos Marin, Professor of Constitutional Law, University of Barcelona

    • Tove H. Malloy Mo 18 Nov 2019 at 21:45 - Reply

      Tove H. Malloy, Professor Europa-Universität Flensburg

    • Ryszard Piotrowicz So 4 Okt 2020 at 07:03 - Reply

      I agree with the content of the open letter, and condemn the actions directed at Prof Sadursku.

  7. Anna Katharina Mangold Mo 6 Mai 2019 at 12:01 - Reply

    Anna Katharina Mangold, Europa-Universität Flensburg

  8. Steffen Ganghof Mo 6 Mai 2019 at 12:06 - Reply

    Steffen Ganghof, University of Potsdam

  9. John Parkinson Mo 6 Mai 2019 at 12:17 - Reply

    John Parkinson, Professor of Social & Political Philosophy, Maastricht

  10. Massimo Fichera Mo 6 Mai 2019 at 12:18 - Reply

    Massimo Fichera, Faculty of Law, University of Helsinki

  11. Radosveta Vassileva Mo 6 Mai 2019 at 12:37 - Reply

    Radosveta Vassileva, UCL

  12. Ming-Sung Kuo Mo 6 Mai 2019 at 12:39 - Reply

    Ming-Sung Kuo, University of Warwick School of Law

  13. Marcin. Koslowski Mo 6 Mai 2019 at 12:39 - Reply

    You stand up for the freedom of Sadurksi’s excessive hate speech!

  14. Michael Waibel Mo 6 Mai 2019 at 12:41 - Reply

    Michael Waibel, University of Cambridge

  15. Argelia Queralt Jiménez Mo 6 Mai 2019 at 12:42 - Reply

    I would like to sign the letter supporting prof. Sadurski. Prof. Argelia Queralt-Jiménez, University of Barcelon

  16. Adam Krzywoń Mo 6 Mai 2019 at 12:50 - Reply

    Adam Krzywoń, Constitutional Law Departement, University of Warsaw

  17. Eduardo Vírgala-Foruria Mo 6 Mai 2019 at 12:56 - Reply

    Eduardo Vírgala-Foruria, Professor of Constitutional Law, University of the Basque Country, Spain

  18. Susana de la Sierra Mo 6 Mai 2019 at 12:59 - Reply

    Susana de la Sierra, LL.M. (Bayreuth), Ph.D. (EUI, Florence), University of Castilla-La Mancha, Spain

  19. Ioanna Tourkochoriti Mo 6 Mai 2019 at 13:00 - Reply

    Ioanna Tourkochoriti, Lecturer Above the Bar, School of Law NUI Galway

  20. Jose Luis Marti Mo 6 Mai 2019 at 13:09 - Reply

    José Luis Martí, Associate Professor of Legal Philosophy at Pompeu Fabra University (Spain)

  21. Liam Murphy Mo 6 Mai 2019 at 13:55 - Reply

    Liam Murphy, New York University

  22. A. Drzemczewski Mo 6 Mai 2019 at 14:05 - Reply

    What is happening is indeed a coordinated harassment campaign by the Polish ruling party against Wojciech Sadurski.

    Andrew Drzemczewski
    Visiting Professor School of Law Middlesex University London, former Head of the Secretariat of the Parliamentary Assembly’s Committee on Legal Affairs & Human Rights, Council of Europe,Strasbourg

    • Andrzej Di 7 Mai 2019 at 15:29 - Reply

      Szanowny Panie,
      przepisy o karaniu osób za zniewagę, czy zniesławienie art. 212 i nst. k.k. obowiązują w Polskiej procedurze od lat. I nawet nowy kodeks karny, który wszedł w życie po obaleniu komunizmu w Polsce z tych przepisów nie zrezygnował. Co więcej wiele osób, w tym dziennikarz, została prawomocnie skazanych na ich podstawie i to nie tylko za obrażanie PIS, ale również Platformy Obywatelskiej (kolegów prof. Sadurskiego), PSL, czy SLD.
      Ale proszę się nie obawiać o losy Pana profesora. Dzięki bowiem Sądowi Najwyższemu orzekającemu przeciwko Jarosławowi Kaczyńskiemu powstała praktyka, która zmusi sądy do uniewinnienia Pana profesora.
      Pan Jarosław Kaczyński w jednej z wypowiedzi w programie Moniki Olejnik nazwał SLD organizacją przestępczą, stwierdził, że to udowodni i partię tę zdelegalizuje.
      Wypowiedzią tą poczuł się obrażony jeden z działaczy SLD, który nigdy nie uważał siebie za przestępcę i członka grupy przestępczej czy mafii. Wytoczył więc on powództwo Jarosławowi Kaczyńskiemu o naruszenie dóbr osobistych. Sprawa ta trafiła do Sądu Najwyższego i s.s.n. Iwona Koper uznała, że członków SLD jest tak dużo, że są mało identyfikowalni. Jeżeli nie można zidentyfikować kogoś w ramach przynależności do grupy, to nie można go obrazić, lżyc zbiorowość do której należy. Nadto sama obraza musi być obiektywna a nie subiektywna.
      Dlatego też zgodnie z twierdzeniem s.s.n. Iwony Koper lżąc PIS, jako organizację falangistów, antysemitów, nazistów, czy innych prawicowych zbrodniarzy nie można obrazić jego członków, a więc prowadzone w tej kwestii przeciwko prof. Sadurskiemu sprawy należy umorzyć.

      Andrzej Zając
      partner zarządzający Kancelarii Instytutu Praktyki Prawniczej


  23. Jernej Letnar Černič Mo 6 Mai 2019 at 14:12 - Reply

    Jernej Letnar Černič, Associate Professor of Constitutional and Human Rights Law, New university, Faculty of Government and European Studies, Slovenia.

  24. Matej Avbelj Mo 6 Mai 2019 at 14:14 - Reply

    Matej Avbelj, New University, Slovenia

  25. Violeta Besirevic Mo 6 Mai 2019 at 14:18 - Reply

    Violeta Besirevic,Union University Law School Belgrade & CEU,CELAB

    • Daniel Smilov, University of Sofia So 4 Okt 2020 at 13:32 - Reply

      Full support for professor Sadurski

  26. Peter Oliver, University of Ottawa Mo 6 Mai 2019 at 14:19 - Reply

    Peter Oliver
    Faculty of Law
    University of Ottawa

    • Matthias Goldmann Mo 6 Mai 2019 at 18:23 - Reply

      Matthias Goldmann, Goethe University Frankfurt a. M.

  27. Marie Laure BASILIEN GAINCHE Mo 6 Mai 2019 at 14:32 - Reply

    Marie-Laure Basilien-Gainche, Professor of Lax, University Jean Moulin Lyon 3, Honorarium member of the Institut Universitaire de France

  28. Sebastien Platon Mo 6 Mai 2019 at 14:38 - Reply

    Sébastien Platon, Professor of Public Law, University of Bordeaux

  29. Saša Zagorc Mo 6 Mai 2019 at 14:39 - Reply

    Saša Zagorc, University of Ljubljana

  30. Jurij Toplak Mo 6 Mai 2019 at 14:42 - Reply

    Jurij Toplak, University of Maribor and Alma Mater Europaea

  31. Wojciech Polak Mo 6 Mai 2019 at 14:42 - Reply

    You are biased. What is happening actually is a harassment of the Polish government by Prof. Sadurski, who attacks the PIS party.

  32. Adam Malinowski Mo 6 Mai 2019 at 14:46 - Reply

    Everybody knows in Poland that Prof. Sadurski is a hajer. https://dorzeczy.pl/kraj/83698/Profesor-hejter.html

  33. Roxana Vornicu Mo 6 Mai 2019 at 14:53 - Reply

    Roxana Vornicu, Fellow, Centre for Good Governance Studies, Babes Bolyay University Cluj-Napoca, Romania

  34. Koen Lemmens Mo 6 Mai 2019 at 14:53 - Reply

    I support Professor Sadurski’s freedom of speech!

  35. Jiri Priban Mo 6 Mai 2019 at 14:54 - Reply

    Jiří Přibáň
    Cardiff University

  36. Lilian Tsourdi Mo 6 Mai 2019 at 14:57 - Reply

    Lilian Tsourdi, University of Oxford

  37. Tom Theuns Mo 6 Mai 2019 at 15:03 - Reply

    Tom Theuns, Utrecht University, The Netherlands

  38. Robert D. Sloane Mo 6 Mai 2019 at 15:04 - Reply

    Professor of Law and R. Gordon Butler Scholar in International Law

  39. Kanstantsin Dzehtsiarou Mo 6 Mai 2019 at 15:04 - Reply

    I would like to support prof Sadurski

  40. Jaakko Husa Mo 6 Mai 2019 at 15:07 - Reply

    Jaakko Husa
    Professor in Law and Globalisation
    University of Helsinki

  41. Kai Purnhagen Mo 6 Mai 2019 at 15:08 - Reply

    Kai Purnhagen, Wageningen University and Erasmus University of Rotterdam

  42. GEORGE A. HAY Mo 6 Mai 2019 at 15:10 - Reply

    George A. Hay
    Charles Frank Reavis Sr. Professor of Law and Professor of Economics
    Cornell University

  43. dennis Patterson Mo 6 Mai 2019 at 15:12 - Reply

    Dennis Patterson
    Board of Governors Professor of Law and Philosophy
    Rutgers University

  44. Jamie Glister Mo 6 Mai 2019 at 15:14