Dear Madam First President, Ladies and Gentlemen,
The term of office of the current President, Professor Małgorzata Gersdorf, is coming to an end.
We can already call this term historic because it was undoubtedly one of the most difficult in the more than 100-year history of the Supreme Court.
Never before in the historay of the Polish judiciary has there been such an unpardonable, brutal attack on the Supreme Court by politicians of a ruling party and the Prosecutor's Office. It can only be compared to the interwar period and the authoritarian actions of the Sanation movement. At that time, however, the Presidents of the Supreme Court yielded. I am full of respect for the fact that this time things have been different.
Never before has a President of the Supreme Court found themselves in a situation where institutions such as the Constitutional Court or the National Council of the Judiciary not only fail to cooperate with the Supreme Court, but together with politicians, seek means to paralyse it and destroy its independence.
Never before has there been a situation in which a government passed an unconstitutional law aimed at removing the First President of the Supreme Court from office.
Professor Gersdorf survived these massive attacks on both the Supreme Court and on herself. She was a tireless witness to the truth, both in Poland and in Europe. She upheld the good name of the Supreme Court. She was engaged in hundreds of meetings, conferences and events. Thanks to this - she was never alone.
The response she received in these extraordinary times was also extraordinary. Judges and citizens stood together, in defence of fundamental values and in defence of the First President of the Supreme Court. Thousands of Poles chanted your name in front of this building, hundreds of thousands of Poles took to the streets, whilst various institutions and organizations from all over the world sent words of support and expressions of esteem. These moments remain in our memory and gave us all much strength.
Never before in the 100-year history of the Supreme Court and in the 30-year history of the Association of Polish Judges IUSTITIA , something I would like to emphasise, because I stand here today representing thousands of Polish judges, was the cooperation between the First President of the Supreme Court and Iustitia so good. The times were a great trial for all of us. Yes, we have differed on some issues, but on the most important issues we have always been and remain in agreement: everything must be done to protect the rights and freedoms of each person.
There is also much worth in our disputes and in seeking solutions - we have succeeded in something that unfortunately fails politicians, namely in the judicial community we talk, we learn from each other. We combined experience with a vision of the future, the wisdom and prudence of authority figures with the energy of thousands of judges throughout Poland. Yes, we sometimes have different opinions, but we also have courage and humility. We have confidence in each other. Our strength lies precisely in the fact that we move forward together. This is a recipe for the long haul.
The best proof of this is the fact that never before has the First President of the Supreme Court become a member of our association - Małgorzata Gersdorf is one, stands with us, in the ranks of Iustitia.
Furthermore, we declare that you can always count on our support. Iustitia, just as it has surrounded you, Madam President and the Supreme Court with a circle of light over the years, protecting you from the darkness, will continue to do so. We have not tired.
Today we want to make it clear: the end of the term of office of the First President of the Supreme Court is no end. Because the independent Supreme Court will survive in each of us - every common court in this country, every judge, will from today be like the Supreme Court. They will protect the Constitution.
History is made not only here in Warsaw. It is made in every smallest district court, in every judge’s chambers. In any case in which judgments are issued, as in the Supreme Court, on behalf of the Republic of Poland. This is our generational moment of trial. It is our fellow judges from Olsztyn, Katowice, Sulęcina, Krakow and from hundreds of other cities who are making history today. It is their steadfastness that constitutes the rock on which is built the hope of Poles for justice surviving.
I stand here today calm in knowledge that we will win.
IUSTITIA, the goddess of justice, can be neither bought nor gagged. Iustitia is strong because citizens believe in her. This, dear politicians, is the superpower that we have. We serve Poles every day - even now, working in courts all over the country, during the pandemic. Whilst at the same time, like any other parent, home schooling our children. We are not detached from reality. Today we stand arm in arm with doctors, supporting their right to speak out about the state of health care. Like them, we understand the importance of service and the weight of the oaths we swore. We know how to uphold them.
Dear Madam Professor,
You took part in many street assemblies, including the March of the Thousand Robes, which took place on the 11th of January 2020 and amassed some thirty thousand people, including many judges from all over Europe. We said at the time, "The March Goes On." I repeat that today. This march does go on. We hope that you are marching with us.
Madam, we have for you a historical, symbolic gift, associated with this event - the inscription that Jerzy Janiszewski, the creator of the Solidarity logo, designed for us. This inscription reads: "The Right to Independence". In January, it accompanied us at the head of the march, becoming a symbol of those days around the world. It will continue to be with us, in our hearts. May it remind you that for us, you are one of those who lead our march. Thank you.
And so, Dear Judges, also Judges of the Supreme Court - to work!
This fight can be won, but no one will win it for us.