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Poland's Legislative Row Grows as PM Blocks Court Ruling

An unseen protester waves the flags of Poland and the European Union in front of the Polish Constitutional Court after a sentence regarding the appointment of judges, Warsaw, Dec. 3, 2015.

The Polish prime minister's office on Friday blocked a verdict by the Constitutional Tribunal concerning the appointment of some of the court's own judges, another step in the highly charged debate that touches on the shape of the nation's constitution.

The continuing tit-for-tat between the government and the opposition has undermined the authority of the constitutional court, which is the top arbiter of law, with the power to put a check on government actions. It is supposed to be nonpolitical.

The conservative ruling Law and Justice party, in office for one month, seems to be seeking to expose the weakness, in its opinion, of the supreme charter and to have it changed. The opposition is accusing the government of breaking the constitution and is seeking to lay the ground for an early election.

On Friday, Prime Minister Beata Szydlo's office blocked the publication of the constitutional court's ruling that approved the appointment of three judges to the tribunal by the previous government. This means the ruling remains ineffective and five other judges, appointed by the current government but blocked by the head of the court, are closer to fully joining the 15-member body.

In reaction, the head of the court insisted that the constitution obliges the government office to publish the court's verdicts.

Law and Justice is fighting to place loyalists on the court to secure the tribunal's support in the wide state and social reforms it promised during its electoral campaign. Without them, the majority of judges in the court would be linked to the opposition for most of the government's term.

The conflict has waded into uncharted terrain and it is hard to predict the next move or what solution might be found.