Are adjudication panels strategically selected? The case of the constitutional court in Poland

There is overwhelming evidence suggesting that judges and court decision-making are sensitive to the political environment. In this paper, we explore one channel through which political alignment of the judges can manifest itself and verify whether political party support, expressed as a recommendation to the tribunal, is relevant for the allocation of judges to adjudication panels. Our specific example comes from the Polish Constitutional Tribunal and refers to the period 2005-2014. With respect to the mass of filed cases, we do not find that the allocation of judges to adjudication panels favored nominees of any political party. Our results, however, provide support for the strategic selection to adjudication panels in politically sensitive cases in the period 2011-2014. We find that nominees of the governing party were allocated to these panels more often than other members of the tribunal and that in these cases they had more voting power than in cases of lower political clout.