Poland's new government is being criticized for democratic backsliding after the parliament passed controversial new legislation which will essentially eliminate the Polish Constitutional Tribunal's ability to act as a check on new legislation.

Several human rights groups, including Amnesty International and the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, say the new legislation passed on Tuesday "compromises civil rights and liberties."

The ruling Law and Justice party maintains that it has a mandate for deep social change from voters and that it must make changes to the tribunal because the court is filled with appointees of the previous government who will block its mandate for change.

Former president and founder of the anti-communist Solidarity movement Lech Walesa countered Wednesday that the government acts "against Poland, against our achievements, against freedom, against democracy."