Polish constitutional expert slams Tusk government’s lawlessness

Prof. Ryszard Piotrowski has condemned the behavior of the Polish government saying that legal opinions cannot be an excuse for breaking the law when the text of that law is crystal clear

editor: Grzegorz Adamczyk
author: Dziennik Gazeta Prawna
Poland's new Prime Minister Donald Tusk. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

Prominent constitutional lawyer prof. Ryszard Piotrowski from the University of Warsaw, has criticized the dismissal of the national prosecutor Dariusz Barski by Justice Minister Adam Bodnar. He points out that the opinions gathered by the minister to justify the dismissal “in no way allow him to avoid seeking the consent of the head of state for the dismissal.”

Piotrowski said he believes that the behavior of the Tusk government is reminiscent of what its predecessors, Law and Justice (PiS), did when they ruled that the previous parliament’s decision to appoint three justices to the Constitutional Tribunal was invalid and elected three other appointees in their place. This, recalls the professor, was the beginning of the constitutional crisis in Poland, and we are now seeing it deepen.

The academic says that “even if 1,000 lawyers issue their opinions on Mr. Barski, they cannot change the law,” and the Tusk government’s actions are an attempt to flout the law. He adds that the same is true of the appointment of Jacek Bilewicz as acting national prosecutor, an organ that does not exist according to the law. 

“The public authorities operate within the limits and basis of the law, which means that what is not permitted is prohibited. Therefore, one cannot create arbitrary structures, because that’s not how a democratic state governed by law functions,” Piotrowski wrote in an article for Dziennik Gazeta Prawna. 

National Prosecutor Dariusz Barski was dismissed and replaced by Jacek Bilewicz last week on the pretext that Barski’s appointment by the previous justice minister had been invalid, but no consultation took place with President Andrzej Duda. 

Duda himself has said that he regards Barski as still being the national prosecutor and appealed to the Constitutional Court to determine whether he or the minister are right in their interpretation. The court served an injunction on the minister to stop any actions until the court has had its say, but the minister claims the court is improperly constituted and therefore has ignored its decision. 

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