Court-Packing, Judicial Independence, and Populism

Should the US Supreme Court be reformed? Many advocate for the introduction of term limits and/or other reforms. The new “court reform” movement is interesting no matter what its actual prospects are because it seems – but we think only seems – to fall within a broad category of challenges to constitutional courts brought by populists around the world.

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Frankenstein’s Court

Due to Brexit, the remaining 27 EU Member States would like to remove Eleanor Sharpston, an Advocate General nominated by the United Kingdom, from the CJEU. Many have criticized this idea, claiming that a removal would undermine the judicial independence of the Court. This post argues that the position taken by the EU 27 to remove Eleanor Sharpston from the Court is actually well-reasoned and lawful while leaving her in office would lead to strange consequences e.g. that the Judges of the Court are less protected than its Advocate Generals.

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Bringing a Hammer to the Chess Board

In cases where constitutional law is slowly losing its normative force, sophisticated doctrinal-conceptual systems (Verfassungsdogmatik) may even become ridiculous and, to some degree, dishonest. While showing a very few examples of doctrinal absurdities in a judgment of a captured and subservient constitutional court can be meaningful (also in order to corroborate the claim about its captured nature), writing a thorough doctrinal analysis on such a judgment is a futile, frustrating and meaningless exercise. A thorough doctrinal analysis can even legitimize the theater of legalism by taking seriously words which are not worth to be taken seriously. Judicial decisions of captured courts and doctrinal writings of pro-autocracy academics in these countries can be viewed as merely performative acts (as opposed to reasons).

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To Shoot Down a Judge

Waldemar Żurek, a Polish Judge tirelessly campaigning to preserve the independence of Polish courts, has probably endured every kind of repression that those in power have in their arsenal, save for being suspended as a judge. He was transferred against his will to another division in his court, harassed with anonymous threats over the phone and in emails and is now facing Kafkaesque claims of criminal misconduct.

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The Schrödinger’s Advocate General

We know Brexit means Brexit but should it also mean violating EU Primary Law? Eleanor Sharpston QC, one of the Advocates General of the European Court of Justice, launched an unprecedented legal action “against the EU and her own judicial colleagues after attempts were made to sack her”: The national governments of 27 EU Member States decided to terminate her appointment early. Why? Because Brexit ought to mean Brexit or so it seems.

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VB Live: Judicial Independence – a Public Talk by Robert Spano, President of the ECtHR

Today on VB: In his first public talk since taking over the presidency of the European Court of Human Rights, Judge Robert Spano speaks about “The Principle of Judicial Independence and the Democratic Virtues of Human Rights Law.” The talk will be followed by questions from the online audience, chaired by iCourts Director, Professor Mikael Rask Madsen.

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Can an Unlawful Judge be the First President of the Supreme Court?

Yesterday, the President of Poland appointed Małgorzata Manowska as the First President of the Supreme Court. The Polish Supreme Court, with Manowska as its First President, may from now on have difficulty providing the appearance of independence as required from all national courts dealing with EU law.

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Verfassungsrichter in der Defensive

Huber, Voßkuhle, Lenaerts – drei Richter des BVerfG bzw. EuGH haben sich in der Presse zu Wort gemeldet, um ihre jeweiligen Urteile im Streit um die Ultra-Vires-Entscheidung zu verteidigen. Diese Reaktionen sind nicht nur rechtlich problematisch, sie drohen auch genau das zu verspielen, was die Richter zu bewahren suchen: das öffentliche Vertrauen und ihre Autorität.

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Appeal to the independent Judges of the Supreme Court

Judges of the Civil Chamber,Judges of the Criminal Chamber, Judges of the Labour Law and Social Security Chamber,Legally appointed Judges of the Supreme Court, We are appealing to you, motivated by the utmost concern, to keep fighting for an independent Supreme Court, free from political pressure. It is the most important court for Polish citizens and […]

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Corona Constitutional #18: Zu wenig, zu spät?

Die EU-Kommission hat bekannt gegeben, Polen wegen des sog. “Maulkorbgesetzes” gegen die unabhängige Justiz mit einem Vertragsverletzungsverfahren zu überziehen – endlich, wie viele sagen würden. Ob das reicht, ob das zu spät kommt angesichts der gnadenlosen Politik der geschaffenen Fakten, die die polnische Regierung an den Tag legt, darüber spricht Max Steinbeis in der heutigen Folge unseres Krisenpodcasts mit dem Demokratie-Aktivisten MARTIN MYCIELSKI von der Open Dialogue Foundation.

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