The Senate in opposition hands means the end of Law and Justice’s dreams of subordinating the Office of the Commissioner of Human Rights. Without the consent of senators, the new Commissioner will not take up the post in 2020 after Adam Bodnar’s current term ends. If the Senate rejects the candidates put forward by PiS, Bodnar may remain in the post of Commissioner longer. And continue to point out where PiS is breaking the law.
The Law and Justice government argues that the reforms introduced since 2015 do not differ from solutions in place elsewhere. But Law and Justice has politicised the National Council of the Judiciary and subjugated the Constitutional Tribunal. They are trying to take over the Supreme Court and is going after judges who dare to voice criticism. They have carried out a ghastly purge in the public prosecutorial service. Every particular change is troubling, but all the more so when viewed in its entirety.
A deputy minister of justice resigns. His devoted helper dismissed from his job at the ministry. Judge of the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court and employees of the neo-NCJ summoned to give explanations. Alerted prosecution office and disciplinary commissioners. The Piebiak scandal, which was the ‘PiS caste’ scandal as early as on Thursday, is spreading ever wider. The government is playing it down, but the opinion polls have moved
The assemblies of judges of all appellate courts in Poland have no intention of issuing opinions on candidates for judicial posts. They are refusing to cooperate with the new KRS, because the EU Court of Justice will soon rule whether it was established in accordance with EU law. “We have heard the negative opinion of the Advocate General. Common sense dictates that we avoid deepening the legal chaos,” comments Ewa Łętowska
“The Law on the Supreme Court was contrary to EU law”, ruled the Court of Justice on 24 June. According to the CJEU, the rules shorting judges’ term of office infringed the principle of their irremovability and judicial independence. The Court is in doubt about the real objectives of the PiS-led judiciary reform. More judgments will be issued shortly.
The newly constituted National Council of the Judiciary (KRS) does not want the Court of Justice to review its status, nor the activities of the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court. “Every criterion for independence is impeccably satisfied”, said Jarosław Dudzicz, member of the new KRS, on 14 May in Luxembourg. The Law and Justice government is again employing the rhetorical arguments of “German courts” and “thieves in togas”. A final verdict on the legality of the KRS will come in July at the earliest.
The Disciplinary Chamber is populated entirely by justices selected since Law and Justice came to power. In a resolution of 10 April, they declared that the process by which they were appointed was entirely proper. The new members of the Supreme Court are rushing to “legalise themselves” in order to head off the “older” judges, who believe their new counterparts should not be allowed to rule. They were appointed in a faulty process and with the participation of a politicised KRS.
Frans Timmermans spoke with journalists on Tuesday, 19 February 2019, just prior to another debate in the General Affairs Council of the EU over breach of rule of law within the Article 7 TEU procedure initiated against Poland. This was the first meeting of the Council since the Polish government presented its report on 11 December 2018
The new Supreme Court Act came into effect on 1 January – the Supreme Court judges previously forced to retire are coming back to work. PiS ultimately gave up despite stalling for time until the last moment. Yet the fight for the rule of law continues, and Brussels has no plans to quit. In 2019, the Court of Justice will rule on the politicisation of the National Council of the Judiciary (KRS)