Polish Lawmakers to Defy U.S. Warning, Press Judicial Revamp

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Polish lawmakers are set to defy international allies and mass opposition protests as they resume work on a judicial overhaul that the government wants to complete this week.
The upper house of parliament may vote on the legislation as early as Friday after a week of nationwide mass protests against the revamp, which the European Union said may trigger sanctions and prompted the U.
to express concern.
More than 100,000 people gathered in major Polish cities on Thursday evening, about half of them in front of the Presidential Palace in Warsaw, according to a municipal spokesman and estimates by the Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper.
They urged President Andrzej Duda to veto the bill that would bolster the ruling party’s sway over the justice system.
The battle over the court reform is becoming one of the biggest political standoffs in Poland since communism fell in 1989.
 While the EU raised the threat of sanctions over the plans, which weakened the zloty, Law & Justice leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski says he won’t back down.
The Polish currency weakened 0.
2184 per euro as of 9:07 a.
“We are concerned about the Polish government’s continued pursuit of legislation that appears to limit the judiciary and potentially weaken the rule of law in Poland, ” U.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in Washington.
“So we continue to watch that situation very carefully.
We continue to have conversations at the highest level with the government of Poland and express our concerns about that.
” Nauert wouldn’t say if the administration had urged a veto from Duda, who hosted President Donald Trump in the Polish capital this month.
Rushed Process The upper house of parliament is set to review legislation revamping the Supreme Court as early as on Friday, less than 24 hours after the lower chamber passed the measure.
Frustrated that their voice isn’t being heard in the legislative process, opposition forces are turning to public protest.
Law & Justice has been rushing to push through the legislation, which would would force into immediate retirement all Supreme Court judges, with little or no debate and without consulting the judiciary.
“Constitutional matters are being pushed through under the cover of night without debate -- the crisis is set to escalate,” Tomasz Siemoniak, a lawmaker from the opposition Civic Platform party and former Defense Minister, said by phone.
“We won’t be giving an inch without a fight.
” The ruling party already passed bills this month that give politicians control over lower courts and the national judicial council.
Duda hasn’t yet signed any into law, but Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro said on Thursday that he’s certain the President won’t veto them.
‘Witch Hunt’ Since regaining power in October 2015, Law & Justice has challenged democratic principles enshrined in the EU treaty and sparked warnings about a drift toward authoritarian rule that communism’s collapse was deemed to have ended.
The zloty weakened to a one-week low against the euro on Thursday, while Poland’s benchmark 10-year bonds were little changed.
The government found support from Hungary, which has also been criticized by the EU for democratic infractions.
Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said the EU’s executive should stay out of Poland’s domestic affairs, accusing Brussels of a “witch hunt.
” A presidential representative said Wednesday that Duda had refused to meet with EU President Donald Tusk to discuss the crisis.
Tusk said they should talk to prevent a “black scenario in which Poland is marginalized in the EU.
” — With assistance by Adrian Krajewski, and Piotr Bujnicki.

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