Poland braces for Supreme Court rebellion as judicial reform kicks in

Polish pro-democracy activists

Chief Justice Malgorzata Gersdorf, who has vowed not to leave her post, did not comment on the decision after meeting President Andrzej Duda, but her spokesman said she meant to return to court on Wednesday.

"I don't want to say that I am terrified", Supreme Court Judge Malgorzata Gersdorf told The New York Times.

The new law, which requires about a third of all Supreme Court judges to retire on age grounds, is the latest in a flurry of changes in the judiciary implemented by the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) since it swept to power in late 2015.

Walesa, who negotiated a peaceful end to communism in Poland in 1989, told protesters that the current government was "violating the constitution".

The eurosceptic PiS government rejects criticism, saying European Union treaties do not give Brussels institutions the power to influence national matters such as the judiciary.

However, Gersdorf plans to go to work as usual on Wednesday, a court spokesman said soon after Duda's announcement. But EU officials have sharply disagreed, saying Poland willingly signed on to EU rules when it joined the community, and that the courts must be counted on to also uphold EU contracts and law.

"Judges are more independent now than they were in the past", Morawiecki countered.

Under the measures due to come into effect at midnight on Tuesday, almost 37 percent of Supreme Court judges will be forced to retire unless they are granted an extension by Duda, a PiS ally.

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Besides Warsaw, demonstrations have also been held in several other Polish cities in defense of the country's constitution.

The European Commission, the bloc's powerful executive arm, said Monday that the court reforms undermine "the irremovability of judges" and judicial independence, breaching Poland's obligations under EU law.

Hundreds protest outside the Supreme Court building in Warsaw on Wednesday. The domestic upheaval as well as concerns by the European Commission prompted authorities to concede to some changes, though the main thrust of the legislation has remained the same.

Polish Supreme Court Chief Malgorzata Gersdorf leaves the Presidential Palace after a meeting with Polish President Andrzej Duda in Warsaw, Poland.

Judge Gersdorf, who has met with President Duda this afternoon, has already stated that he will defy mandate and will be going to work tomorrow Wednesday; And like her, or judges. "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.

Amnesty International last month warned that Polish citizens' human rights were at risk from "systematic erosion of guarantees for an independent judiciary" and urged the Polish government and parliament to amend the laws in question.

Under Article 7, the most serious punishment that could be inflicted would be the removal of Poland's voting rights in European Union institutions.

The European Commission, which polices compliance with EU laws, opened an "infringement procedure" Monday over the Supreme Court law. Some accused his government of backtracking on Poland's democratic gains, saying the new laws put the courts under political control.

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