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    President Przyłębska to Gazeta Polska: Paralyzing the work of the Constitutional Tribunal based on resolutions is a coup

    Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

    “I cannot imagine that in a civilized rule-of-law state, where politicians often refer to the rule of law, a resolution challenging the functioning of the Constitutional Tribunal would be adopted. A resolution cannot regulate the functioning of the Tribunal or change the law. If any state organ, citing this resolution, were to take any action, including the use of force, we would be dealing with a coup,” said Julia Przyłębska, the President of the Constitutional Tribunal, in an interview with Tomasz Sakiewicz. The full interview will be published in the Gazeta Polska weekly, available from this Wednesday.


    Tomasz Sakiewicz: The Constitutional Tribunal (CT) issued a safeguard on December 14, blocking the new government from immediately appointing a liquidator for Polish Television. The hearing regarding the provisions allowing the liquidation of companies within public media and the removal of members of their boards is scheduled for January 16, 2024. Why was safeguarding necessary in this case?

    Julia Przyłębska, CT President: The Constitutional Tribunal is obligated to consider motions submitted by participants in the proceedings, and in this case, the Tribunal had to consider a motion for the safeguarding of proceedings. While the Law on the Constitutional Tribunal does not directly regulate safeguarding issues, there is a provision stating that if the law does not regulate certain procedures, the Civil Procedure Code should be referred to, which the Tribunal did. The Civil Procedure Code allows for the issuance of a safeguarding order regarding non-pecuniary claims, and this is the type of situation we are dealing with here. Although the Civil Procedure Code states that an order is issued against the parties to the proceedings, it is crucial to emphasize that the nature of proceedings before the Constitutional Tribunal is different. The decisions of the Constitutional Tribunal are universally binding, and the matters we address also concern entities that are not parties to the proceedings. Therefore, the Constitutional Tribunal was entirely justified in regulating the issue of safeguarding. The decision was unanimous, and it is untrue that there is any doubt about the status of a judge in the composition. All judges in the Constitutional Tribunal are appointed in accordance with the applicable law.

    Does the order need to be published by the Sejm, for example, to be binding?

    Only judgments are published.

    So, is this type of order more effective than a judgment, as a judgment may not be published?

    The effectiveness is the same. A judgment has a concluding nature in proceedings. At this point, I want to emphasize that I hope, in line with earlier announcements by the ruling coalition, that all judgments of the Constitutional Tribunal will be published.

    Pro-government media claim that the judges of the CT who issued the safeguarding order regarding public media have violated the law. There are even accusations of a “coup.”

    The situation looks completely different. As I mentioned earlier, the Constitutional Tribunal is an institution authorized to issue such decisions, and threatening Constitutional Tribunal judges with imprisonment or the State Tribunal for performing their duties is a violation of the law. Not to mention that a Constitutional Tribunal judge cannot be brought before the State Tribunal; there are no such provisions, so lawyers formulating such opinions simply discredit themselves. We also hear that we are to be punished for adjudicating. In this regard, I refer to the Polish constitution, specifically Article 195, which states that a Constitutional Tribunal judge, in performing their duties, is subject only to the constitution. Intimidation, threatening families, creating an atmosphere in which a judge would be afraid to adjudicate—these are unacceptable situations. This is a crime.

    There have been many announcements that the new ruling coalition may want to paralyze the work of the Constitutional Tribunal, for example, through various resolutions. What would be the consequences of such actions?

    I cannot imagine that in a civilized rule-of-law state, where politicians often refer to the rule of law, a resolution challenging the functioning of the Constitutional Tribunal would be adopted. A resolution cannot regulate the functioning of the Tribunal or change the law. If any state organ, citing this resolution, were to take any action, including the use of force, we would be dealing with a coup. I do not believe that in Poland there are politicians and lawyers who would want to implement such a concept. If we are to change anything in the organizational scope of the Tribunal, it must be done based on a law, not a resolution. These are clear and precise constitutional standards.

    Let’s stop for a moment on the threats made against judges. There are suggestions that if they do not adjudicate according to the expectations of some politicians, they can expect some form of verification, the formation of commissions, removal from office… All of this creates pressure and undermines the principles of the rule of law in our country.

    Media reports claiming that judges, in issuing judgments, committed crimes punishable by imprisonment, are classic examples of attempts to intimidate judges. An atmosphere is being created in which judges are supposed to be afraid to adjudicate according to their consciences. This is a violation of all rule-of-law standards. If I had more free time, I would gladly check whether, in totalitarian countries, the media went so far in publicly attacking judges, as is the case in Poland. In our homeland, certain political forces threaten the gallows because someone wants to act in accordance with the Polish constitution. It is unbelievable. The constitution protects judges, and depreciating them for any reason is a violation of the principles of a civilized rule-of-law state.

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