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[PiS]sing off the Courts: the PiS Party’s Effect on Judicial Independence in Poland

Author: Michael Hoffmann


By winning both the presidency and a majority of seats in the Parliament in 2015, the Law and Justice Party assumed more control in Poland than any single political party has managed since the fall of communism. The party subsequently focused on taking control of the judiciary as well, proposing legislation that critics claim threatens the rule of law but the government insists is necessary to rid the judiciary of corruption and inefficiency. This Note discusses whether the bills go beyond the rule-of-law norms in the European Union, as well as the EU’s response to the situation in Poland so far. It then proposes other methods of influencing Poland’s actions through economic and reputational pressure. It further suggests that, while perhaps too late to stop the Law and Justice Party’s reforms in Poland, changes originating from within the Polish judiciary could have prevented this crisis, providing a possible warning to countries facing a similar situation in the future.


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