Legalisation of the National Council of the Judiciary by the Constitutional Tribunal cancelled Is it for fear of Polexit?

Share

Leading journalist and commentator on legal affairs in Poland, a columnist for Polityka weekly. Her latest book ‘Sędziowie mówią. Zamach…

More

‘Why was the hearing cancelled? Either there is a problem with the unanimity of the judges, while the Tribunal likes to speak as one in political matters, or the leaders of the party and the government stopped the consideration of the case, fearing a suspected Polexit.’ argues Ewa Siedlecka in her article



The Constitutional Tribunal’s hearing of the petition from the new National Council of the Judiciary (KRS) to recognise the KRS as having been illegally elected was cancelled. It was planned for 3 January 2019. It had to be cancelled by the chairperson of the hearing, Julia Przyłębska in this case. The outcome was a certainty, as the hearing was planned with five judges, three of whom had ruled a year earlier that the KRS can be elected by members of parliament.
  
What happened? Nobody knows. The Sejm and the Attorney General expressed their opinions, but, in contrast with previous practice, the Tribunal did not publish those opinions on its website. The Sejm’s opinion is available on the Sejm’s website, although it was not submitted to the Constitutional Tribunal, but, according to ‘Gazeta Wyborcza’, this cannot serve as the formal grounds for postponing the hearing. The parliamentary majority (Law and Justice, PiS) claims the election of the judges to the KRS by MPs is in line with the Constitution, whereas the regulations on the right of a participant of the respective contest to appeal against a decision of the KRS are in breach of the Constitution.
  
If they nevertheless appeal, the court considering such an appeal is not allowed to suspend the other stages of the process, i.e. the President’s appointment of nominees elected by the KRS to the office of judges. This was done by the Supreme Administrative Court when the Court was considering appeals of several candidates to the Supreme Court, but the President ignored this ruling and appointed the nominees elected by KRS. The Sejm suggests discontinuation of the other parts of the complaint. The spokesperson of the State Attorney’s Office, Ewa Bialik, confirmed that the opinion of the Attorney General had been prepared, but she believes it can only be disclosed by the Constitutional Tribunal. And this did not happen.
  
Related content: Almost 3,000 Polish judges want the dismissal of the new National Council of the Judiciary. This is one third of all judges
  

Is this a unanimity issue or a signal from the party leaders?

  
We can only try to guess the reasons for cancelling the hearing on the basis of the previous activity of the Tribunal after the ‘good change’: either this is an issue of unanimity of the judges (the petition by the KRS applies to several provisions), and the Tribunal likes to speak as one in political matters, or the leaders of the party and the government indicated to the Tribunal that it should freeze the consideration of this case.
  
The KRS itself petitioned the Tribunal to rule that it is unconstitutional so that the Tribunal would rule the opposite, certifying that it is legal and capable of continuing to exist. Why would PiS waive this blessing, after it had taken over the Constitutional Tribunal to ensure that it certifies any doubtful or unconstitutional ideas? Why not use the Tribunal’s services in this case? PiS does not want to, as we can see, even by the fact that the petition to the Tribunal came from the KRS itself and not from PiS MPs. Even so, this is bizarre – an institution questioning its own legal status! Perhaps the KRS, despite being related to PiS itself, acted too quickly and prepared the petition without consulting the party?
  

More space for the government

 
From PiS’ point of view, the lawfulness of the appointment of the KRS is not a necessity. The Council’s objective is to appoint the right judges. Meanwhile, the members of the KRS may feel discomfort from other judges constantly questioning their legal status, e.g. in multiple resolutions of assemblies refusing to cooperate with KRS on opinions regarding candidates for court vacancies. Their position is also questioned by judicial organisations and the European Network of Councils for the Judiciary, which resolved to suspend  the Polish KRS’ membership.
  
Perhaps the hearing at the Constitutional Tribunal was cancelled because PiS is anxious not to be accused of initiating a Polexit before the elections. It should be reiterated that the European Court of Justice will rule in March/April on the lawfulness of the appointment of the KRS (while considering the requests of the Supreme Court and Supreme Administrative Court for preliminary rulings). If the Polish Constitutional Tribunal were to rule that the establishment of the KRS was not in breach of the Polish Constitution, whereas the Court of Justice were to rule that it was in breach of the Treaty on the European Union, the PiS government would face a real dilemma: whether to recognise the supremacy of the Polish Constitution by withdrawing from the Treaty or to accept the Court’s ruling, which would look as if it was depreciating the Polish Constitution. Perhaps this is why the ‘good-change’ Tribunal resolved not to rule on the case too early, leaving the government with greater freedom to act.
  

KRS operates as if nothing happened

  
Regardless of the reasons for cancelling the hearing planned for Thursday, the KRS, which questioned its own legal status, should not hold any further contests for positions of judges and should refrain from all activities whatsoever. This was exactly why the Constitutional Tribunal set the date of the hearing particularly quickly: a month after the petition was filed. Meanwhile, no hearing will now be held and the KRS should not take any action either. Even so, the KRS is still working: it issued the notorious ’pants resolution’ as an interpretation of the code of ethics forbidding judges from using symbols related to social movements. The resolution was approved after KRS’ petition questioning its own right to act as the National Council of the Judiciary was filed. And it is still working undisturbed: issuing opinions on legal acts and organising contests for judges. Judges who take part in such contests are also aware that they are taking part in a procedure that is being held by an institution that considers itself illegal. This is a sign of extreme contempt for the rule-of-law.
  
Ewa Siedlecka is a journalist and commentator for ‘Polityka’ weekly, specialising in law. She recently wrote the book ‘Sędziowie mówią. Zamach PiS na wymiar sprawiedliwości’. (The voice of judges. Law and Justice’s coup against the judiciary’. This text was published on her Conservative Blog.



Author


Leading journalist and commentator on legal affairs in Poland, a columnist for Polityka weekly. Her latest book ‘Sędziowie mówią. Zamach…


More

Published

January 3, 2019

Tags

Supreme CourtConstitutional TribunalDisciplinary ChamberPolandjudgesdisciplinary proceedingsrule of lawZbigniew ZiobroNational Council of the JudiciaryCourt of Justice of the EUjudicial independenceEuropean CommissionEuropean UnionAndrzej DudaMałgorzata ManowskaCourt of JusticeEuropean Court of Human RightsMinister of JusticeIgor Tuleyadisciplinary systemAdam Bodnarmuzzle lawJarosław KaczyńskiNational Recovery PlanCJEUMateusz MorawieckiCommissioner for Human Rightsneo-judgesCourt of Justice of the European UniondemocracyPrzemysław RadzikWaldemar ŻurekNational Council for Judiciarypresidential electionselectionselections 2023disciplinary commissionercriminal lawJulia PrzyłębskaPiotr SchabKamil Zaradkiewiczmedia freedomharassmentpreliminary rulingsHungarySupreme Administrative Courtelections 2020K 3/21Dagmara Pawełczyk-WoickajudiciaryFirst President of the Supreme CourtŁukasz PiebiakprosecutorsPresidentRecovery FundBeata MorawiecPaweł JuszczyszynProsecutor GeneralMichał Lasotafreedom of expressionMaciej NawackiEuropean Arrest WarrantSejmprosecutionCOVID-19Regional Court in KrakówCriminal ChamberNational ProsecutorConstitutionPrime MinisterMinistry of JusticecourtsMałgorzata GersdorfMarek SafjanEU budgetdisciplinary liability for judgesMaciej FerekOSCEWojciech HermelińskiExtraordinary Control and Public Affairs ChamberIustitiacriminal proceedingsWłodzimierz WróbelVenice Commissionconditionality mechanismAleksander StepkowskiTHEMISLabour and Social Security ChamberStanisław BiernatPiScommission on Russian influenceStanisław PiotrowiczPresident of the Republic of PolandNCJimmunityconditionalityAnna DalkowskaJustice FundcorruptionLaw and JusticeNational Public ProsecutorCouncil of Europefreedom of assemblyKrystian MarkiewiczreformsReczkowicz and Others v. PolandKrzysztof Parchimowiczacting first president of the Supreme Court2017policeSenateAndrzej Zollmedia independenceSLAPPdefamationStrategic Lawsuits Against Public ParticipationLGBTJustice Defence Committee – KOSEwa ŁętowskaDidier ReyndersFreedom HouseAmsterdam District CourtMay 10 2020 electionsXero Flor w Polsce Sp. z o.o. v. PolandOrdo IurisPresident of PolandAndrzej StępkaBroda and Bojara v PolandSylwia Gregorczyk-AbramPiotr GąciarekJarosław WyrembakPM Mateusz MorawieckiArticle 7Next Generation EUConstitutional Tribunal PresidentUrsula von der LeyenLex DudaTVPmediaLex Super OmniaProfessional Liability ChamberreformJarosław DudziczK 7/21National Reconstruction PlansuspensionparliamentChamber of Professional LiabilityEAWArticle 6 ECHRP 7/20Supreme Court PresidentLech GarlickiMichał WawrykiewiczabortionPiotr PrusinowskiNational Electoral Commissionelectoral codeJanusz NiemcewiczTeresa Dębowska-RomanowskaStanisław RymarMałgorzata Pyziak- SzafnickaKazimierz DziałochaBogdan ŚwięczkowskiNetherlandsAndrzej MączyńskiMarek MazurkiewiczvetoStefan JaworskiMirosław GranatOLAFBiruta Lewaszkiewicz-PetrykowskaViktor OrbanJózef IwulskiMaciej MiteraSLAPPsjudcial independenceWojciech ŁączkowskiAdam JamrózPATFoxFerdynand RymarzKonrad WytrykowskiRafał Puchalskismear campaignmilestonesKrakówMarzanna Piekarska-Drążekstate of emergencyUkraineelectoral processBelaruscourt presidentsAdam SynakiewiczXero Flor v. PolandAstradsson v Icelandright to fair trialEdyta BarańskaJoanna Hetnarowicz-SikoraCentral Anti-Corruption BureauJakub IwaniecsurveillancePegasusDariusz DrajewiczJoanna Misztal-KoneckaCivil ChamberK 6/21Wojciech MaczugaSzymon Szynkowski vel SękDariusz ZawistowskiOKO.presselections integrityelections fairnessMarek ZubikBohdan ZdziennickiMirosław WyrzykowskiSławomira Wronkowska-JaśkiewiczPiotr TulejaJerzy StępieńAndrzej RzeplińskitransparencyMariusz KamińskiMaciej Taborowskiinsulting religious feelingsPaweł Filipekpublic mediaMariusz MuszyńskiKrystyna PawłowiczlexTuskcourt changesMarek PietruszyńskiMichał LaskowskiSupreme Audit Officeabuse of state resourcesLaw on the NCJEuropean ParliamentJarosław GowincoronavirusRussiaZuzanna Rudzińska-BluszczFree Courts11 January March in WarsawCCBEPiebiak gatehuman rightsrecommendationC-791/19Human Rights CommissionerMarcin WarchołLGBT ideology free zonesreportEuropean Association of JudgesPiotr Pszczółkowskiretirement agedecommunizationGeneral Assembly of the Supreme Court Judgesintimidation of dissentersdemocratic backslidingpublic opinion pollZiobroEU law primacyMarian BanaśThe Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europecriminal codeBelgiumlex NGOEwa Wrzosekcivil societytransferAdam Tomczyńskimedia pluralismBohdan Bieniek#RecoveryFilesFrans TimmermansLIBE Committeerepairing the rule of lawUS Department of StateMarcin KrajewskiKarolina Miklaszewska2018NGOFull-Scale Election Observation MissionODIHRNations in TransitStanisław ZabłockiPetros TovmasyanJerzy KwaśniewskiPiotr MazurekGrzegorz PudaNational Recovery Plan Monitoring CommitteeWiesław KozielewiczChamber of Extraordinary Control and Public AffairsMałgorzata Dobiecka-WoźniakCouncil of the EURafał LisakMichał DworczykWojciech Sadurskidefamatory statementsRome StatuteInternational Criminal CourtC-619/18Rights and Values Programmejudgepress releaseAntykastalex WoślegislationCourt of Appeal in KrakówPutinismKaczyńskiPaulina AslanowiczJarosław MatrasMałgorzata Wąsek-Wiaderekct on the Protection of the PopulatioWorld Justice Project awardStanisław ZdunIrena BochniakKrystyna Morawa-FryźlewiczŁukasz BilińskiIvan MischenkoJoanna Kołodziej-MichałowiczMonika FrąckowiakArkadiusz CichockiEmilia SzmydtTomasz SzmydtE-mail scandalAndrzej SkowronKasta/AntykastaKatarzyna Chmuraadvocate generalGrzegorz FurmankiewiczMarek JaskulskiEwa ŁąpińskaZbigniew ŁupinaPaweł StyrnaSwieczkowskiDworczyk leaksMałgorzata FroncHater ScandalAleksandra RutkowskaGeneral Court of the EUArkadiusz RadwanLech WałęsaWałęsa v. Polandright to an independent and impartial tribunal established by lawpilot-judgmentDonald Tusk governmentRafał WojciechowskiDobrochna Bach-Goleckalex RaczkowskiPiotr Raczkowskithe Spy ActdisinformationCT Presidentfundamental rightsNational Broadcasting Councilelection fairnessequal treatmentcivil lawMarcin MatczakDariusz KornelukNational School of Judiciary and Public Prosecution (KSSiP)codification commissiondelegationsWatchdog PolskaDariusz BarskiLasotapopulismState TribunalRadosław BaszukAction PlanJustice MinistryVěra JourováDonald Tuskjustice system reformAnti-SLAPP Directiveinsultgag lawsuitsstrategic investmentinvestmentlustrationJakub KwiecińskidiscriminationAct on the Supreme Courtelectoral commissionsEuropean Court of HuKrzysztof RączkaPoznańTomasz Koszewskitest of independenceSebastian MazurekElżbieta Jabłońska-MalikJoanna Scheuring-WielgusoppositionThe National Centre for Research and DevelopmentAdam Gendźwiłłtransitional justiceDariusz DończykKoan LenaertsKarol WeitzZbigniew KapińskiAnna GłowackaCourt of Appeal in WarsawOsiatyński'a ArchiveEUUS State DepartmentAssessment Actenvironmentextraordinary commissionWhite PaperKaspryszyn v PolandNCR&DNCBiREuropean Anti-Fraud Office OLAFJustyna WydrzyńskaAgnieszka Brygidyr-DoroszJoanna KnobelCrimes of espionageJędrzej Dessoulavy-ŚliwińskiMarek Piertuszyńskihate speechhate crimesmedia taxadvertising taxmediabezwyboruJacek KurskiKESMAIndex.huGrzęda v PolandŻurek v PolandPrzemysław CzarnekJacek CzaputowiczMarcin RomanowskiElżbieta KarskaPrzemysła Radzikmedia lawRafał TrzaskowskiSobczyńska and Others v PolandTelex.huJelenForum shoppingFirst President of the Suprme CourtEuropean Economic and Social CommitteeSebastian KaletaOrganization of Security and Co-operation in EuropeC-156/21C-157/21foreign agents lawArticle 2Rome IIJózsef SzájerChamber of Extraordinary VerificationKlubrádióequalityGazeta WyborczaLGBT free zonesPollitykaBrussels Ilegislative practiceENAZbigniew BoniekAK judgmentautocratizationMultiannual Financial FrameworkOpenbaar MinisterieRegional Court in Amsterdamabortion rulingArticle 10 ECHRprotestsinterim measuresLeszek MazurIrena MajcherAmsterdamLMmutual trustthe Regional Court in Warsawpublic broadcasterUnited NationsForum Współpracy Sędziówthe NetherlandsDenmarkact on misdemeanoursCivil Service ActParliamentary Assembly of the Council of EuropeNorwegian Ministry of Foreign AffairsNorwegian fundsNorwayKraśnikOmbudsmanKarlsruheAusl 301 AR 104/19SwedenFinlandMariusz KrasońC-487/19GermanyCelmerC354/20 PPUC412/20 PPUIrelandMarek AstLSOright to protestSławomir JęksaWiktor JoachimkowskiRoman Giertychtrans-Atlantic valuesMichał WośMinistry of FinancelawyersMirosław Wróblewskirepressive actborderprimacyEU treatiesAgnieszka Niklas-BibikSłupsk Regional CourtMaciej RutkiewiczAct of 20 December 2019Amnesty InternationalJacek SasinEvgeni TanchevKochenovPechPaulina Kieszkowska-KnapikMaria Ejchart-DuboisAgreement for the Rule of LawPorozumienie dla PraworządnościAct sanitising the judiciaryFreedom in the WorldECJErnest BejdaThe First President of the Supreme CourtMaciej CzajkaMariusz JałoszewskiŁukasz RadkepolexitFrackowiakDolińska-Ficek and Ozimek v PolandRzeszówKoen LenaertsharrassmentOlimpia Barańska-Małuszeinfringment actionHudocPKWKonrad SzymańskiPiotr BogdanowiczPiotr BurasLeon KieresIpsosEU valuesNational Prosecutor’s OfficeBogdan ŚwiączkowskiDisicplinary ChamberTribunal of StateOlsztyn courtPrzemysła CzarnekEducation MinisterENCJauthoritarian equilibriumArticle 258postal voteTVNjournalistslexTVNEwa MaciejewskaGerard BirgfellerPolish mediaAlina CzubieniakSimpson judgmentpostal vote billclientelismoligarchic systemEuropean Public Prosecutor's Officeresolution of 23 January 2020Polish National FoundationLux VeritatisMałgorzata BednarekPiotr WawrzykIsrael