Constitutional Tribunal Paralysis

By Jarek Marciniak

New Law and Justice bill set to paralyse the Constitutional Tribunal leaves 400 civil servants jobless.
Currently in the Polish Parliament (Sejm) there are two bills on the Constitutional Tribunal. The first one concerns the statute of the Tribunal’s Judges (on 3 November the second- and probably the third reading are expected). The second project, tabled yesterday, sets out the organisation of the Tribunal and its legal rules of procedure. Let us have look at the latter.

First of all – we can be proud of ourselves! Our constant protests and actions, alongside with the opinion of the Venice Commission and that of the European Commission, have brought about a substantial effect. The new project does not stipulate any deadlines that would restrain the Court from getting to hear the case.

The new legislation is written in a surprisingly clear and factual style – it does not seem as if one single person would prepare it just overnight. It certainly takes a sound legal analysis, as the text was made available to the public the day I wrote this article, however from the procedural point of view, the project provides for a smooth running of the Tribunal. The ruling Law and Justice party policymakers made a U-turn, away from all of these ideas that could get conceived in the mind of a pretty neglectful lawyer who had had lost his acquaintance with the law for a long, long time.

Does it mean that the Law and Justice are set to cease their attempts to incapacitate the Constitutional Court? Are they ready to leave their phoney war path now? Don’t you get fooled!

The new project guarantees that after Andrzej Rzepliński’s mandate ends, the new President of the Tribunal will be certainly elected from among the new Judges, who were already appointed by and manifest their loyalty to the ruling Kaczyński’s party.

Furthermore, for the interim period, until the new President is established, the new rules hand over the control of the Court’s proceedings to a person with the longest administrative and judiciary experience – without taking into account their seniority in the Constitutional Court itself! The General Assembly of the Judges is to be also presided by… the most junior of the Court’s Judges.

Nomina sunt odiosa, but in Poland people know it for sure, whom exactly these elaborate regulations might concern.
This is not the end of story, alas. Apparently the men who are currently at power in Poland, have devised yet another a poison that is to paralyse the constitutional order in the Country. The new poison seems more perfidious, and probably more deadly, yet much harder to detect, due to its rather administrative than a purely legal nature. It will bring an instant job cut for about four hundred civil servants currently employed in the Office of the Constitutional Tribunal.

The new project virtually disbands The Office of the Constitutional Tribunal. The service has guaranteed the administrative and institutional upholding and the streamlined proceedings of the Constitutional Tribunal. During the hardship exerted by the Law and Justice party, the civil servants fulfilled their professional duties and they remained loyal to the fundamental values of the Polish Constitution.

These courageous people who will probably remain anonymous to the masses, deserve our greatest support and admiration. If it was not for their commitment, real patriotism and professional ethics, the Tribunal would not be able to endure and to defend our Constitution. Now, the Law and Justice, using the new legislation being pushed through the Parliament as you read this words, will make them victims of an unprecedented political lockout.
Let us get together at the 11 of November protests everywhere in the country and abroad to express our support to these brave men and women and our discontent with the operations of the current authorities. It is time to act! Again.

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