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POLAND: President Duda appoints Supreme Court judges

Yesterday, President Andrzej Duda held a ceremony during which he appointed 27 new judges to the Supreme Court. The nominations were made by the National Council for the Judiciary (KRS). These appointments come during a legal standoff between the European Commission, the Supreme Court and the government. 

In September, the European Commission has referred Poland to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). The Commission has requested an expedited procedure (a ruling can be expected within 6 months) and asked the Court of Justice to order interim measures, restoring Poland’s Supreme Court to its situation from before 3 April 2018, when the contested new laws were adopted. Similarly, the Supreme Court suspended the application of the new provisions in August.  Still, the government, President Andrzej Duda and the State Judiciary Council refuse to adhere to the suspension. RecentIy, in a case brought by unsuccessful candidates, the Supreme Administrative Court ruled that the nomination procedure was illegal as formal criteria were not met – its official announcement lacked the signature of PM Morawiecki.

The appointment of judges to the Supreme Court came as a surprise. Many commentators argue that the President wanted to alter the legal status quo ahead of expected actions of the CJEU. The Chancellery of the President, on the other hand argues that the Supreme Court reform is for the good of the public, and the President sees that as a priority.