The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has limited tools to respond to rule of law backsliding by member states. Sanctions have never been used for this purpose, and the Assembly’s monitoring procedure—the most significant tool of scrutiny—presents a mixed picture. This article focuses on four states exhibiting severe rule of law backsliding: Hungary, which has evaded the procedure; Poland, which was placed under monitoring in 2020; Turkey, which in 2017 became the first state to have monitoring reopened; and Azerbaijan, which has been under monitoring since 2001. Through a first-ever analysis of debates, voting patterns, and tactics used in the Assembly, the article elucidates how proponents and opponents of monitoring have framed their arguments in the battleground of ideas about democracy and the rule of law in Europe. It concludes that the Assembly should fundamentally reappraise monitoring—and the possible use of sanctions—to meet the severity of the challenge.