EU court orders Poland to reinstate Supreme Court judges

October 19, 2018 - 8:09 am

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union's top court ordered Poland on Friday to immediately stop applying a law that lowered the retirement age for Supreme Court judges, forcing some 20 off the bench.

The interim injunction from the European Court of Justice also obliges EU member Poland to reinstate the judges who had to retire early because of the law that lowered the age limit for Supreme Court service from 70 to 65.

The European Commission, the EU's executive branch, requested the temporary order while the Court of Justice considers its challenge to the new age cap as a violation of EU law.

Supreme Court judges, arguing the forced retirements are an infringement of Poland's Constitution, also have sought the European court's opinion,

The country's conservative government maintains that removing justices who were active during Poland's communist era will make the court's more efficient and fairer.

Court of Justice Vice President Rosario Silva de Lapuerta wrote in the order that because of the Supreme Court's authority to give the final word in legal cases, "there would be a real risk of serious and irreparable damage to individuals if the interim measures were not adopted."

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said the government received the order and would "respond after analyzing it."

The director of Amnesty International's European institutions office said that the ruling showed it was "unacceptable for Poland to ignore EU's most fundamental principles."

"Anything but immediate and full compliance with this binding court order would clearly show, once again, that the Polish authorities have complete disregard for the rule of law," Covadonga de la Campa said.

The Supreme Court's first president, Malgorzata Gersdorf, was one of the justices forced off the bench by the retirement age revision. She said she was glad the European court supported Poland's judges, but regretted the "shame" the divisive issue brought Poland.

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