Reviewing the Holocaust Bill: The Polish President and the Constitutional Tribunal

President Duda decided to sign off the controversial law allowing to punish those who publicly accuse the Polish nation and the Polish state of taking part in the Holocaust and in any war crimes. The law will now come into force – a circumstance which is unlikely to calm the international discussion it has generated. Having decided to sign the law, the President announced that he will file a motion to the Polish Constitutional Tribunal to check its constitutionality. If the president is aware that the law may be unconstitutional and has at his disposal legal tools to check it yet allows it to come into force, he can be accused of constitutional recklessness.

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Judicial “Reform” in Poland: The President’s Bills are as Unconstitutional as the Ones he Vetoed

Five months ago, the Polish President Duda vetoed the PiS laws on the judiciary as unconstitutional. Currently, the President and the PiS are negotiating about a solution to this conflict. But make no mistake: The Presidential vetoes have not triggered any new proposals which would be qualitatively better in terms of consistency with the Constitution than the initial PiS bills that he vetoed. Both the PiS and the President’s proposals are glaringly unconstitutional, though in different ways.

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One Law, Two Justices

Poland’s rule of law crisis stems from the conviction that respect for institutions and the requirement to observe procedures are for the weak. The greatest risk arising from the crisis is that the recent disregard for both institutions and procedures will become a norm for future governments, whatever their political orientation.

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Defenceless Formalists: on Abuse of Law and the Weakness of the Polish Judiciary

Poland’s constitutional crisis is caused by the power of those who attack the rule of law, but also by the weakness of those who defend it. This weakness derives from courts taking a traditional formalist approach, excluding purposive and functional argumentation and leaving themselves prone to attack by the abuse of power through the other branches of government.

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Is Poland’s President Duda on the Road to Damascus?

Does President Duda’s recent vetoes signal a more permanent change in his fidelities to his political stable and to the Constitution? An opportunity to witness the depth of his conversion arises soon. The untimely death of Professor Morawski, one of the anti-judges appointed to the Constitutional Tribunal (CT) by Duda in December 2015, has created a vacancy in the CT which must be filled soon. The big question is with whom.

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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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