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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Protecting Polish Judges from the Ruling Party’s “Star Chamber”

For the third time, the ECJ has intervened in the subjugation of the judiciary in member states. Its injunction against Poland’s “disciplinary chamber” is an important step. But unless Ursula von der Leyen’s Commission starts facing up reality, winning legal battles will not prevent losing another member state, after Hungary, to autocracy.

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Discipline and Punish

The Polish rule of law saga took yet another turn for the worse. The Parliament is working on a bill to prevent judicial review of the previous judicial reforms as well as to neutralize the effects of adverse CJEU judgments. The bill is blatantly unconstitutional but without a functioning Constitutional Court it does not matter much. It is also contrary to EU law.

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Burning the Last Bridge to Europe

The Polish legal system is infected by a virulent pathogen, viz. the neoKRS, which spreads its spores with each judicial appointment. The only deduction to be drawn from the recent CJEU verdict and the subsequent ruling of the Polish Supreme Court is that the neoKRS is an illegally constituted body that illegally appoints judges who deliver invalid judgments. The more illegally appointed judges, the greater the number of invalid judgments. Any government that valued the integrity of the nation’s legal system would set about healing such a sick system without delay.

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The Power of ‘Appearances’

Last week the EU Court of Justice replied to Polish Supreme Court’s preliminary references regarding the independence of judges of its Disciplinary Chamber. The good news is that the ECJ gave to all Polish courts a powerful tool to ensure each citizen’s right to a fair trial before an independent judge, without undermining the systems of judicial appointments in other Member States. The bad news is that the test of appearance may easily be misused or abused.

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Three Steps Ahead, One Step Aside: The AG’s Opinion in the Commission v. Poland Case

In the infringement case about forced retirement of Polish Supreme Court judges, the Advocate General has delivered his much-awaited opinion. The AG proposed that the Court should declare that Poland failed to fulfil its obligations under Article 19 TEU. I do agree with this conclusion. I do not share, however, the Advocate General’s view that the complaint of the Commission should be rejected as inadmissible as far as it is based on the right to an independent judge under Article 49 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights.

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1095 Days Later: From Bad to Worse Regarding the Rule of Law in Poland (Part I)

On 13 January 2016, exactly three years ago today, the Commission activated the so-called rule of law framework for the very first time with respect to Poland. As things stand today, Polish authorities’ sustained and systematic attacks on the rule of law now more than ever directly threaten the very functioning of the EU legal order.

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