Polish Ruling Party Forces Through Reforms to Defang Supreme Court
Poland’s right-wing Law and Justice party is forcing through judicial reforms that the Supreme Court’s president, Małgorzata Gesdorf, has said would “end” the Supreme Court and “break” the Constitution.
The changes are expected to be enacted next week after a parliamentary committee voted for the legislation on Thursday.
During a hearing, lawmakers from the ruling party rejected all amendments from the opposition, refused to hear independent legal counsel and ignored warnings from parliament’s own lawyers, who said the reforms might be unconstitutional.
Grzegorz Schetyna, the leader of the opposition Civic Platform, has called for demonstrations in the streets.
“This is no longer a creeping coup,” he told Polish television. “This coup begins to strike.” Read more
Duda Hasn’t Stopped Law and Justice from Subjugating Poland’s Courts
Poland’s president, Andrzej Duda, has surprised observers by vetoing legislation from his own Law and Justice party that would have defanged the judiciary.
Closer scrutiny suggests Duda’s opposition is less meaningful than it is made out to be, though.
The president has said he will sign the bills if they are amended and Leonid Bershidsky argues at Bloomberg View that his proposed changes don’t deviate from the legislation’s objective: “to put the judiciary, which the party argues has turned into an elitist caste, under more political control.” Read more
Poland’s Ruling Nationalist Party Steps Up Assault on Judiciary
Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party pushed through more changes to the court system on Wednesday:
One bill takes power to appoint members to the National Judicial Council, which is responsible for appointing lower-level judges, away from the judiciary itself and gives it to parliament, where Law and Justice has a majority.
The same law removes fifteen of the 25 judges currently serving on the National Judicial Council.
A second bill gives the justice minister the power to unilaterally replace court presidents. Read more
Recalcitrant Hungary and Poland Exhaust Europe’s Patience
The European Parliament has opened an investigation into the state of democracy and rule of law in Hungary, which is ruled by the self-described illiberal democrat Viktor Orbán.
The resolution, introduced by liberal and left-wing groups, passed on Wednesday with the support of 68 members of the conservative European People’s Party, to which Orbán’s Fidesz belongs.
The mainstream right has long shielded Budapest from scrutiny, despite Orbán’s years of attacks on the courts, the central bank and the media, the removal of checks on his parliamentary majority and his pursuing of economic and migration policies that defy the European mainstream. Read more