Seminar: Domesticating Socialist Legality: How Polish Lawyers Experimented with a Tainted Concept

“Socialist legality” was the guiding principle of domestic law in East-Central Europe after 1945. Following the Soviet model, it was supposed to be an alternative to the liberal rule of law, as well as to older 19th-century ideas of formal legality, and provide revolutionary order and justice beyond private interests and due process technicalities. However, throughout East-Central Europe, it attained various forms: politicians, legal elites, and other actors interpreted this principle very differently in order for it to serve particular goals. This paper considers “socialist legality” a “tainted concept”, marked by its past violent uses, but flexible enough to serve different ideological goals. Within the broad East-Central European context, this paper focuses on Poland and uses a historical-sociological lens to analyse public and academic discussions around “socialist legality”, including scholarly interventions by Stanisław Ehrlich (1907-1997), the academic supervisor of Jarosław Kaczyński, leader of the incumbent Law and Justice party. It shows how beginning in 1956, “socialist legality” was used by legal elites to justify judicial review and other institutions of the traditional legal state (Rechtsstaat), how it strengthened the Polish legal elites’ formalist-dogmatic approach and influenced their trajectory after 1989, as well as after 2015.

Vystupující: Jakub Szumski (Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena) a Naum Trajanovski (Uniwersytet Warszawski)
Komentuje: Zdeněk Kühn (PF UK) a Klára Pinerová (TU Dresden / ÚSD AV ČR)

Upozorňujeme, že ze semináře bude pořizován audiozáznam, jenž bude následně dostupný na ústavním webu a Spotify.

Thematic webs