Introducing CT Fall 2013 Fellow Lech Garlicki

Constitutional Transitions is pleased to introduce Lech Garlicki, one of six visiting fellows to join the Center this semester. Garlicki has served as a Judge on both the European Court of Human Rights and the Constitutional Court in his native Poland. Most recently, he has pursued a series of visiting professorships, first at the University of Tel Aviv and later at Hong Kong University. He joins the Center for the Fall 2013 semester.

Garlicki has been involved with comparative constitutional issues for multiple decades. He began his career with two doctoral theses at the University of Warsaw, looking at approaches to judicial review in the United States and in Western Europe. At the time, Poland was under Soviet domination and governed by the communist Constitution of 1952.

Garlicki’s transition from professor to judge occurred just as Poland was undergoing its own transformation. Though the communist system didn’t fall until 1990, its erosion began earlier under the political pressure of the Solidarity movement. The Constitutional Court was established in 1985, with Garlicki appointed in 1993, completing the shift of the Court and the country to a plural democratic order.

Speaking of his early days on the Court, Garlicki reminisced over the freedom with which to adjudicate. Though several amendments had been made to the 1952 Constitution to accommodate reformers, Poland did not fully rewrite its constitution until 1997. Garlicki reflected fondly on this “privilege of untied times,” noting he could pursue a more activist approach to reform. The Polish high court in that era faced three principal types of cases. First, the Court established several central principles of accountable government, such as the proportionality principal. Second, the Court had to contend with demands for economic rights that were particularly difficult given the economic hardships faced by Eastern bloc countries at the time. Third, the Court faced several contentious human rights cases, including a notable decision restricting abortion rights, in which Garlicki filed a dissenting opinion.

At the end of his term on the Polish Constitutional Court, Garlicki moved to the European Court of Human Rights, eventually serving as President of its Fourth Section. As a Judge, he participated in many important precedent-setting decisions in European and international law. These include Al-Jedda v. The United Kingdom, which found the United Kingdom responsible extraterritorially for ECHR violations by British forces operating in Iraq, as well as numerous cases related to deportation, extradition, and rendition in terrorism cases. Garlicki also had the opportunity to decide three Polish cases concerning abortion and found violations of the Convention in each of them.

Garlicki also participated in several cases on transitional justice issues, specifically related to the challenge of lustration in former communist states. In Poland, for example, past collaboration with the communist government would not preclude future participation in politics. However, an affidavit disclosing the extent of collaboration had to be submitted and reviewed by the courts. If it was found to be untruthful, the individual could be barred from public service.

This semester, Garlicki is participating in the Center’s activities by serving as panelist on a panel on “Backsliding into Authoritarianism in Europe” on 6 November 2013. More information on that event is available here. The panel is part of The Constitutional Transitions & Global and Comparative Law Colloquium: Emerging From / Sliding Back into Authoritarianism.

In addition to his involvement with the Center, Garlicki is also teaching two courses at NYU Law, one on European Court of Human Rights Law and another on Human Rights and Terrorism, focusing specifically on the European Court’s jurisprudence. He is a prolific scholar, having published over 300 publications in various languages. He has authored extensive commentaries on both the Polish Constitution and the European Convention of Human Rights. To read more about Professor Garlicki, please see his biogra[hy available here.


Introducing Fall 2013 CT Fellow Mohammad Fadel
(2 November 2013)

Introducing 2013-14 CT Fellow David Dyzenhaus
(12 October 2013)

Introducing 2013-14 CT Fellow George Anderson
(12 October 2013)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.