The Polish Supreme court has turned to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) with five questions concerning judicial independence as an EU law, in hopes of abolishing the Polish government’s new judiciary reforms.
Until an answer from the ECJ has been received the Supreme Court has suspended the new regulations, which will force judges of the Supreme Court to retire at the age of 65.
Chairman of the Constitutional Tribunal Julia Przyłębska declares that actions of the judges of the Supreme Court have no legal basis. “The judges of the Supreme Court have violated the constitution as well as the Civil Code; the Polish judiciary system does not admit the ability to suspend the practice of regulations,” Przyłębska told the Polish Press Agency.
The Chairman explained that according to the 7th article of the Polish constitution, the Supreme Court is meant to oversee the work of civil and military courts. The Polish judiciary system does not admit the Supreme Court, or any other court the right to suspend laws. No matter from which normative act such a law comes from, including governmental bills.
The Chancellery of the Polish President has also deemed the Supreme Court’s decision as not valid: “(…) today’s action of the Supreme Court, consisting of suspending the application of the new law on the Supreme Court, occurred without a proper legal basis and has no effects on the President or any other body.”
Earlier this month, twenty-two Supreme Court judges over 65 years old, nearly a third of the total, were forced into early retirement. There has been opposition to the regulations as some have refused to go. Including chief justice Małgorzata Gersdorf who remains adamant that her constitutional term does not expire until 2020.
A measure signed into law by the Polish president Andrzej Duda gives the Law and Justice (PiS) government authority to choose the next head of the Supreme Court. In response, protests were held across Poland including both the judges in question and members of the opposition.