The Rule of Law and Social Justice in Poland: Searching for the Leading Constitutional Imaginary

The constitutionalist project formed a crucial part of the Polish transformation from the 1980s. It expressed the aspiration of a return to Europe and was largely inspired by Western constitutionalism. It focused on the institutions, legal processes, fundamental personal and political rights. However, its relation to the constitutional imaginary of social justice and social rights remained ambiguous, although these values lied at the origin of the transformation starting from 1980 and were enshrined in the Constitution of 1997. The hypothesis is that social justice, as strictly related to redistributive justice, could not easily be squared with the dominant imaginary of constitutional law and jurisprudence as a purely analytical and scientific endeavour. As social justice becomes increasingly more pressing in Europe and beyond, the Polish context might invite to rethink the leading values of European constitutionalism and its status as legal ideology and utopia