Tonight at midnight the justices the Supreme Court over 65 years old will be forced to retire – including the Chief Justice. Those who will replace them, will not be independent. Political control over Supreme Court will allow rulling party, PiS, to face no resistance when it decides to arrest opponents, challenge election results and silence the media.
According to the new law on the Supreme Court, which enters into force on the 4th of July 2018, eighteen judges over 65 years old will be forced to retire – including the Chief Justice Małgorzata Gersdorf. Two weeks later, the president of Poland will be able to decide whether another 9 will be able to continue their work.
In the upcoming days those Supreme Court judges will be in the centre of attention. At least some of them will keep coming to work, like they have done every morning. The government will accuse them of breaking the law, despite the fact that it is the law on the Supreme Court that breaks the Polish Constitution. Maybe the goverment will order the police to remove the judges, maybe it will settle for disciplinary punishments.
It may seem that PiS is fighting with the Polish opposition, protesting citizens and the European Union over a dozen of judges. Is it really such a tragedy if they remove those eighteen judges? Majority of Supreme Court judges will keep their jobs, anyway. So, why is so importnat to fight for their right to work a couple of years longer? Especially when the majority of Poles can’t wait to retire early, and the workers’ rights in Poland are being broken on a regular basis?
It is the propaganda of the ruling PiS party to constantly accuse Polish judges of corruption, criminal misdemeanor, call them postcommunist leftovers, present them as greedy, and as this, who only care for their high salaries .
But here is the truth: you don’t have to like the judges to defend the independence of the courts and judiciary. We must defend the independence of the Supreme Court for the sake of citizens, whose matters will be decided by the new judges appointed by the ruling party. And those judges will be totally dependent of their political masters.
Courts, media, elections
Even though around 50 „old” justices will remain in the Supreme Court, they will constitute a minority. The Supreme Court will be now inflated to 120 justices, and the vacancies will be filled by those appointed by the National Council of the Judiciary, monopolized by PiS.
The new justices will fill in all the positions in the new Disciplinary Chamber and the Extraordinary Control and Public Issues Chamber. The president of Poland will most likely choose the new Chief Justice amongst the new justices, as well as the presidents of the chambers.
Justices owing their careers solely to PiS will decide on the matters of:
- disciplinary judges, prosecutors and attorneys. Those opposing the ruling government cn be thus removed from their jobs;
- protests questioning the legality of elections and referendums. They will be able to influence the results or nullify the elections;
- appeals to the decisions of the National Broadcasting Council. They will be able to authorize huge fines for the media;
- appeals to the decisions of the National Council of the Judiciary, including decisions about nominations of the new judges.
Taking control over the Supreme Court means that PiS will control the courts, the media and the election results.