Poland’s most senior judge accused the government of an “coup” against the judiciary and “statutory lawlessness” after it passed controversial legislation that critics say undermines the country’s rule of law.
Małgorzata Gersdorf, the country’s Supreme Court First President, on Friday said the judicial reforms signed off by President Andrzej Duda earlier this week would be “a coup on the structure of one of the most important bodies of the state.”
Critics say the reforms would tighten political control over the country’s judicial system. The new measures would permit the dismissal of many of the country’s Supreme Court judges by lowering their statutory retirement age.
Gersdorf said in an open letter that the attack “was done not by the use of military or paramilitary forces, but by the adoption of unconstitutional solutions, which according to the formula of the famous philosopher Gustav Radbruch is simply referred to as ‘statutory lawlessness.’”
On Wednesday, the European Commission launched a sanctions procedure against Poland over the controversial judicial reforms. The move to trigger Artice 7, which is unprecedented, comes after the Commission repeatedly warned that the judicial changes are not in line with the bloc’s core values and rules. The process could ultimately lead to the suspension of the country’s EU voting rights.
The Polish government now has three months to address Brussels’ concerns.
“Nobody who wins democratic elections rules only on behalf of his voters, but on behalf of all citizens. Also no one is allowed to destroy the structures of the constitutional bodies of the state,” Gersdorf said.
Warsaw has argued the changes are necessary to root out corruption and modernize a legal system that has elements left over from communism.