Poland’s supreme court constitutional crisis approaches a standoff (The Guardian)

Małgorzata Gersdorf. Photograph: Adrian Grycuk via Creative Commons

The president of Poland’s supreme court fears she may be prevented from entering her place of work later this week, she told the Guardian, as a long-running standoff between the Polish government and the country’s judiciary threatens to reach a dramatic climax.

Earlier this year, the Polish parliament introduced a mandatory retirement age of 65 for supreme court judges, which would result in the instant dismissal of 27 of the 74 judges currently serving in the court. Because the new law envisages expanding the court to 120 judges, this would give the government the power to appoint almost two-thirds of supreme court judges from scratch.

The retirements are due to come into effect on Tuesday, but last week a general assembly of supreme court judges issued resolutions stating that the dismissals contravened constitutional guarantees of judicial independence and explicit provisions in the constitution guaranteeing the term of office of Małgorzata Gersdorf, the supreme court president. The resolutions stated that Gersdorf and all of the supreme court judges threatened with forcible retirement would continue to serve out their terms as normal.

Supreme court judges are expected to gather together before entering their court building on Wednesday morning, in a show of solidarity and defiance. It is unclear how the Polish government will react, but speculation is growing that the judges could be blocked from entering the building. A group of associations of Polish lawyers has called for protests in support of the judges in front of the supreme court on Tuesday and Wednesday.

My report for the Guardian can be found here.

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