Poland's lower house of parliament voted Wednesday to send a controversial bill that would reform the nation's top court to a parliamentary committee.
The vote followed contentious debate in the chamber controlled by the ruling Law and Justice party and efforts by the opposition to delay the bill.
The measure would reorganize the Supreme Court and give lawmakers the dominant role in appointing its members.
The ruling party says the changes are necessary in order to make the court system efficient, while opponents say the move would violate judicial independence.
Street protests have accompanied debate surrounding the bill, including Tuesday night when several thousand people gathered outside the presidential palace in Warsaw.
The European Union has also expressed concern about the developments, and the European Commission was due to discuss the issue during a meeting Wednesday.
Poland is a relatively new democracy, having overthrown communist rule in 1989 and joined the EU in 2004.