Poland's legislative row grows over court ruling publication

AP News
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Posted: Dec 11, 2015 9:49 AM

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — In a fast-swelling constitutional row in Poland, the prime minister's office on Friday joined in the controversy over a verdict by the Constitutional Tribunal concerning the appointment of some of the court's own judges.

It is the latest step in the highly charged debate that touches on the shape of the nation's constitution.

Government spokeswoman Elzbieta Witek said Friday that Prime Minister Beata Szydlo's office wrote to the court asking for some clarifications regarding a ruling that approved the appointment of three new judges by the previous government. She denied reports earlier in the day that the government was blocking the publication and thus the implementation of the ruling and insisted it will be published in due course and on time.

The continuing tit-for-tat between the government and the opposition has undermined the authority of the constitutional court, which is the top arbiter of law, with the power to put a check on government actions. It is supposed to be nonpolitical.

The conservative ruling Law and Justice party, in office since last month, seems to be seeking to expose the weakness, in its opinion, of the supreme charter and to change it. In the electoral campaign the party vowed to change the constitution and strengthen the president's powers.

The opposition, led by the party that lost power in October's elections, is accusing Law and Justice of breaking the constitution, and appears to be seeking to lay the ground for an early election.

Law and Justice is fighting to place loyalists on the court to secure the tribunal's support in the wide state and social reforms it promised during its electoral campaign. Without them, the majority of judges in the court would be linked to the opposition for most of the government's term.

The conflict has waded into uncharted terrain and it is hard to predict the next move or what solution might be found, as neither side seems ready to seek compromise.