EU orders Poland to stop forcing retirement of high court justices

The European Court of Justice ruled Friday that Poland must halt the implementation of a new law forcing members of the Supreme Court to retire at 65.

People gather in a protest organized by opponents of the judicial reform in front of the seat of the Supreme Court in Warsaw, Poland, on July 4. The European Court of Justice on Friday said Poland must suspend a new law forcing Supreme Court justice to retire at 65. File Photo by Marcin Kimiecinski/EPA-EFE
People gather in a protest organized by opponents of the judicial reform in front of the seat of the Supreme Court in Warsaw, Poland, on July 4. The European Court of Justice on Friday said Poland must suspend a new law forcing Supreme Court justice to retire at 65. File Photo by Marcin Kimiecinski/EPA-EFE

The new law, which took effect in early July, lowered the mandatory retirement age down from 70. It forced the retirement of about 40 percent of the Polish Supreme Court’s justices.
Critics accuse Warsaw of enacting the new law in order to bring in new justices loyal to the government. The government, though, says the new age requirement makes the courts more efficient.

About one-third of the high court’s 73 judges have stepped down since enforcement of the law.

Chief Justice Malgorzata Gersdorf in July called the law a “purge” of justices in which the ruling Law and Justice Party is attempting to seize control of the court.

The EU high court, based in Luxembourg, ordered the Polish government to immediately reinstate the justices that had been forced out of the Supreme Court by the new law. The EU said it would issue a final ruling at a future date.

The day after the new law went into effect, hundreds of protesters gathered outside the Supreme Court in Warsaw in opposition.

ByDanielle Haynes