Judges and protests in Poland
Sir, – We have read with interest your editorial published on the eve of the judicial protest in Warsaw (“The Irish Times view on Irish judges protesting in Poland: crossing a line”, January 8th).
We could not agree more with its final statement that judges should speak through their judgments. Yet you seem to have forgotten that this statement implies a sine qua non: the judges have to be free in their judicial decisions. The recent reforms (or as they are often termed “deforms”) of the judiciary in Poland – knowledgeably reported on many times in your pages – have but one collective aim: to deprive the judges of their constitutional independence. This value is, needless to say, the very core of any liberal democracy.
In your comment, you blame the Irish judges for taking part in a political gathering. We agree this gathering is political, yet you seem to play on linguistic ambiguity. We read political, in its true, original, meaning: politeia is a community of politai or citizens; politics thus means civic, and not, as you imply, partisan. In this sense democracy is political and this kind of political activity cannot be denied to judges.
One final word on the very participation of the foreign judges, and among them the Irish, in the Warsaw protest today. The apparent lack of a European society is commonly blamed for the EU’s present weakness. We all belong to one European community of values. There are Irish or Polish judges no more: all are European. One of the founding principles of the “ever closer union” is the principle of solidarity. Solidarity, in turn, means that we have to stand by our common values together, since if we do not, they cease to be common. – Yours, etc,
Dr PAWEL MARCISZ,
of European Law,
Prof JAKUB URBANIK,
Chair of Roman Law
and the Law of Antiquity, University of Warsaw,
Sir, – It is practically impossible for people who hold public office to act or make statements without doing so on behalf of and on the authority of their institution.
This is why we would not stand for judges endorsing candidates for election, and why we should not accept the judiciary having its own foreign policy either. – Yours, etc,