Constitutional conflicts in the European Union: Court packing in Poland versus the United States

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Abstract

Court packing greatly threatens democracy. This paper examines, compares and draws conclusions from two attempts: The PiS government is near to packing Polish courts; President Roosevelt tried but failed to pack the U.S. Supreme Court in 1937. In most democracies a head of government with a legislative majority and strong party control can pack courts, giving complete control. The United States escaped; Roosevelt lacked complete party control. Poland is unlucky; PiS is strongly controlled. Peaceful domestic protest is necessary, but Poland’s hope is from EU-level institutional pressure, supported by major democracies, to reverse packing and prevent further seizure of power.

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