A RULE OF thumb about the rule of law is that countries that have it are freer, fairer and richer than those that do not. Independent courts ensure even the mighty are subject to the law. But Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) takes a different view (see article). It complains that judges are self-serving, unelected elites who substitute their own preferences for those of voters. Since taking office in 2015 PiS has passed laws that give the government ever more control over the judiciary, violating the commitment to uphold the rule of law that Poland made when it joined the European Union.

This conflict is coming to a head. The European Commission and the European Court of Justice (ECJ) have

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