Fate Of Poland's Supreme Court Is Now In President's Hands, Despite Protests

Zborowski

Three bills changing the rules for the Supreme Court and other judicial bodies have been approved by Polish lawmakers but they must still be signed into law by President Andrzej Duda.

If the EU Commission fights and wins this struggle over the Supreme Court Bill now before the Polish parliament, it will confirm the bureaucracy's view that it should and can exercise sovereignty over democratically elected governments, whether the latter are progressive or reactionary.

The new legislation gives the nationalist ruling party extensive control over the nation's court system, a move which critics say brings into question the country's judicial independence.

The bill, sponsored by the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS), was passed by parliament's lower house earlier in the day after tumultuous debate, triggering one of the biggest protests since the PiS came to power in late 2015.

The president has 21 days to sign it, and is not expected to do it before his meeting Monday with the head of the court, Malgorzata Gersdorf. The tribunal has already been put under the influence of the ruling conservative party.

The parliament pushed through the change to the Supreme Court, which gives the government power to select candidates for the court, despite protests by thousands of people and criticisms from the EU.

European Union leaders have criticized the bill for impairing judicial independence and threatening the rule of law.

Senator Aleksander Bobko, of the right-wing PiS party, said that ending the term of the first Supreme Court president was an obvious violation of the constitution.




Tusk said in a statement that the PiS moves on courts were backwards, went "against European standards and values", harmed Poland's reputation and risked marginalising the country.

If Warsaw's nationalist-minded PiS does not back down, the government could face fines and even a suspension of voting rights, although other eurosceptics in the European Union, notably Hungary, will likely veto strict punishment.

In Poland, past presidents, activists and rights groups were among those to speak out against the judicial reforms, raising concerns about the erosion of laws and freedoms in Poland.

THE CONFLICT between the EU Commission and the misnamed Law and Justice government in Poland is a case - to adapt Oscar Wilde - of the unedifying in pursuit of the unspeakable.

The legislation, approved early Saturday, has drawn condemnation from European Union leaders and has led to major protests across Poland. Thus, the government wants to get rid of the pathologies in the judicial system of the country.

The bill still needs approval from Poland's upper house, the Senate and from Duda, before it takes effect.

During the 15-hour debate thousands of demonstrators took to the streets nationwide to protest the law, which reinforces political control over the Supreme Court. Critics say that will kill off judicial independence.

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