Polish President Seeks to Force Retirement of Judges

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Poland’s President Andrzej Duda introduced a law Monday that would retire the most senior judges on the supreme court and allow parliament to select which officials should appoint new judges, a proposal that comes as the European Union considers disciplining Poland for politicizing its court system, reports the Wall Street Journal. The law mandates early retirement for all male supreme court judges over 65 and all female judges over 60. That would remove more than one-third of the court’s 82 judges, including the 64-year-old chief justice of the court, who is seen as an opponent of Poland’s current government. A panel of experts would then appoint replacement judges.

Parliament would choose who staffs that panel, unless more than two-fifths of Poland’s sharply-divided parliament obstructs the process, in which case Duda himself would choose the panelists. Duda proposed the bill in a press conference on Monday, two months after he vetoed a much more sweeping overhaul passed by parliament. That overhaul would have forced Poland’s entire supreme court into retirement, and allowed the justice minister to staff the court temporarily with judges he could fire at any moment. The July law sent tens of thousands of protesters into the streets and prompted the EU to consider—for the first time ever—a disciplinary process that could lead to Poland losing its voting rights in the union.

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