Massive Protests In Poland Over Judicial Law

Poland is on the verge of forcing nearly half its Supreme Court judges out

The new Supreme Court law, which went into force on Tuesday, required 27 of Poland's 72 Supreme Court judges, including its chief justice, to retire after lowering the mandatory retirement age to 65.

Surrounded by supporters she said her presence was not about politics but she was there to protect the rule of law.

She believes that recent legislation pushed through by the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) to force more than a third of Supreme Court judges to retire is unconstitutional.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki faced a grilling in the European Parliament for what many European lawmakers see as Poland's violations of democratic standards with a broader overhaul of the judiciary that gives the ruling party vast political control over courts and judges. "It's enough to destroy Poland", Walesa said on his Facebook account. The commission concluded Duda and his party have failed to fulfill their obligations under the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and have threatened to take the Polish government to the European Court of Justice. Maltese lawmaker Roberta Metsola said the judicial reforms were about "consolidating (government) control by weakening the institutions created to keep you in check".

Gersdorf, who is 65, announced that she would "come to work tomorrow (Wednesday), later I am going to go on vacation".

"We contest the law, but we can not directly invoke the constitution, so we have complied with it", Michal Laskowski, a Supreme Court justice, told the liberal Gazeta Wyborcza daily.

In a separate statement, the commission said it took the view "that these measures undermine the principle of judicial independence, including the irremovability of judges".

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White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters told Axios that the administration was not preparing to roll out such legislation. He says he's not "planning anything now" but if the WTO doesn't treat the U.S. properly, "we will be doing something".

Although they contest it, 10 judges have complied with the retirement legislation, a Supreme Court spokeswoman told AFP on Thursday.

JANEK SKARZYNSKI via Getty Images Polish Supreme Court Justice Malgorzata Gersdorf attends the demonstration in Warsaw on July 3, 2018.

Hundreds protest outside the Supreme Court building in Warsaw on Wednesday. All the living former Presidents of Poland have become involved in defending the independence of courts, with Lech Walesa in the forefront, the former Foreign Affairs Ministers and activists of the democratic opposition of the 80-ties and 70'ties.

European Union officials and worldwide human rights groups have expressed alarm, alleging the moves represent an erosion of judicial independence that violates Western standards and a reversal for democracy in Poland.

Demonstrators gathered in multiple Polish cities on Wednesday, and the wire service reports that they marched to the Presidential Palace to express their discontent with the actions of President Andrzej Duda.

He also got support from others who backed Warsaw's arguments that an overreaching European Union was meddling in a sovereign state's internal affairs. "The court system.is an entirely internal matter", PiS leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski was quoted by the PAP news agency on Tuesday as telling Gazeta Polska newspaper.

Poland faces the threat of losing its voting rights in the European Union under a procedure launched late past year over judiciary reforms.

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