Polish parliament is acting unconstitutionally by demanding resignation of top judges, says legal expert

By Grzegorz Adamczyk
3 Min Read

The Polish parliament on Wednesday called for the resignation of three Constitutional Tribunal judges and non-recognition of that court’s decisions.

The resolution called for a fresh election of the justices to the constitutional court to be held. 

The move was criticized by senior constitutional lawyer, Prof. Ryszard Piotrowski, who reminded deputies that according to the constitution, the verdicts of the constitutional court are binding.

Piotrowski also claimed that justices cannot be removed from the court as a result of a parliamentary resolution and queried whether a parliamentary resolution is binding when it is enacted by members of the government rather than individual MPs or groups of MPs. 

According to Piotrowski, parliament is abusing its power, as it has no right to comment on the validity of resolutions passed by parliaments in the past. Just because the previous parliament and ruling majority made the same error did not make it any more legal. Two wrongs never make a right, he noted.

Back in 2015, the ruling Conservatives (PiS) voted to annul the election of three justices on procedural grounds, but they were supported by the president who had refused to nominate the justices and then nominated those elected by the subsequent parliament. 

Prof. Piotrowski accused the present parliament of unconstitutional criticism of constitutional court decisions and said that such behavior constitutes incitement to rebel against the constitution. In this way, parliament is undermining the rule of law, he added.

“If the Sejm in the resolution takes the position that respecting the constitution can be considered a violation of the principle of legality, contrary to the constitution, it undermines trust in the law. In a rule-of-law state, it cannot be that the constitution does not apply if it is inconvenient for politicians. This has nothing to do with the rule of law,” Piotrowski commented.

The professor concluded his remarks by saying that it was unacceptable for politicians to be selective about which parts of the constitution they are prepared to honor.

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