Using empirical examples from Poland this paper argues that contrary to authoritarianism, the populist state does not monopolize the possibility of defining public values but shares this competence with non-public actors. The populist power selects those actors who share its general normative orientation (e. g. conservative worldview) and then gives such actors part of its competence in defining values that should be protected. However, such definitions become part of the public sphere only when they are translated into judicial practice. Until then, they are only political definitions that can be neutralized by the judiciary. Opposition by other actors (business, NGOs and international courts) play an important role in such counteraction.