Skip to main content

Photo: “W drodze na Wawel“, by Piotr Drabik, licensed under CC BY 2.0, Hue modified from the original.

Matthes, Claudia-Y. “Judges as activists: how Polish judges mobilise to defend the rule of law.” East European Politics (2022): 1-20.


What research on democratic backsliding often overlooks is that protest against the decline of rule of law also emerges inside state institutions. In Poland, the judges’ associations are using legal means, organising public events and urging the European institutions to stand firm towards the Polish government. In this article, I analyse the judiciary’s collective actions and motivations regarding on- and off-bench mobilisation. Based on in-depth interviews with judges, I show how they focus on litigation but use lobbying and protesting as complementary tools. Moreover, their networking and adaptation of measures to changing circumstances proves their ability to act strategically.

The Illiberalism Studies Program studies the different faces of illiberal politics and thought in today’s world, taking into account the diversity of their cultural context, their intellectual genealogy, the sociology of their popular support, and their implications on the international scene.