Poland’s Supreme Court Justice defies ‘purge’

Marsha Scott
July 6, 2018

The new law could have sweeping consequences for the Supreme Court, potentially impacting almost half its judges in what critics call a purge, as NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson reported: "The government claims the forced retirements are aimed at fighting corruption and improving judicial efficiency".

"I'm not engaging in politics; I'm doing this to defend the rule of law and to testify to the truth about the line between the constitution and the violation of the constitution", Gersdorf told reporters and supporters after re-emerging from the court.

Malgorzata Gersdorf insisted Tuesday that her term runs until 2020, as guaranteed by the constitution.

Morawiecki defended the changes the populist Law and Justice party has brought to the justice system, insisting his government is working to make judges more accountable to the democratic will of the people and that Poland's democracy "has never been as alive as it is today".

After staging protests on Tuesday outside the Supreme Court, Polish pro-democracy activists have vowed to hold more rallies around the country on Wednesday.

"We are moving toward a dictatorship", said Joanna Tworog, a 65-year-old webmaster in the crowd outside the court.

"We have the right to live in a free country with a constitution", said Monika Czerniakowska, 50. Supreme Court judges, however, say that it signals Poland's slow descent into authoritarianism.

A new law adopted by the ruling right-wing party is forcing Gersdorf and many other Supreme Court judges aged 65 and above to retire, as of Wednesday.

Chief Justice Malgorzata Gersdorf, who has vowed not to leave her post, did not comment on the decision after meeting President Andrzej Duda, but her spokesman said she meant to return to court on Wednesday.

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She said after showing up for work that she plans to go on holiday from next week, and that Iwulski would be standing in for her during her absence.

Poland's government has pushed ahead with the new rules despite the European Union launching legal action on Monday.

But Gersdorf, who has been the president of the Supreme Court since 2014, has said she believes the legislation is unconstitutional and can not be implemented.

Protesters gather in front of Poland's Supreme Court building in Warsaw to support the court's head.

Gersdorf, an outspoken critic of the PiS and its reforms, said in a television interview broadcast on Tuesday that the presidential palace had invited her to a meeting with Duda at 4 p.m. (1400 GMT). This new law enters into force on 3 July, 2018.

Warsaw also faces the threat of losing its voting rights in the bloc under a procedure launched late a year ago in response to the judiciary reforms.

Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the leader of the party, said that Ms. that Gersdorf and her supporters were "doomed to fail miserably".

Pro-democracy protesters who massed outside the court on Tuesday waving European Union and Polish flags said they would stage more rallies across the country on Wednesday.

Opponents of the reforms planned demonstrations on Wednesday.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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