Constitutional Court


CHAPTER Vll Constitutional Court

Article 81
  1. There shall be a Constitutional Court composed of seven members designated in the following manner:
    1. Three Justices of the Supreme Court, elected by said Court by an absolute majority in successive and secret balloting;
    2. A Lawyer appointed by the President of the Republic;
    3. Two Lawyers elected by the National Security Council;
    4. A Lawyer elected by the Senate by an absolute majority of the Senators in office.
  2. The persons referred to in letters (b), (c) and (d) must have had their professional degree for at least fifteen years; must have had an outstanding performance in professional, university or public activities; must not have any impediment that would incapacitate them to perform the duties of Judge; they shall be subject to the norms of Articles 55 and 56, and their posts shall be incompatible with that of Deputy or Senator as well as with that of Member of the Elections Qualifying Court. Furthermore, in the cases of letters (b) and (d), such persons should be or should have been Lawyers integrating the Supreme Court for at least three consecutive years.
  3. The members of the Court shall serve eight years, be partially replaced every four years, and must not be removed.
  4. Provisions of Article 77, second paragraph, relative to age, and Article 78, shall be applicable to them.
  5. Persons referred to in letter (a) shall also cease their functions should they, jor any reason, cease to be Justices of the Supreme Court.
  6. Should a Member of the Constitutional Court cease his functions, he shall be substituted for the one entitled to, in accordance with the provisions of the first paragraph of this Article and for the time remaining for the incumbent to complete his term.
  7. Sessions shall be held with a quorum of five members. The Court shall take its decisions by a simple majority and shall pronounce judgment according to law.
  8. A constitutional organic law shall determine the staff, remunerations and statute for personnel of the Constitutional Court, as well as its organization and functioning.
Article 82

Powers of the Constitutional Court are:
  1. To exercise control of the constitutionality of the constitutional organic laws prior to their promulgation, and of the laws that interpret some precept of the Constitution;
  2. To resolve on questions regarding constitutionality which might arise during the processing of bills or of constitutional amendment and of treaties submitted to the approval of Congress;
  3. To resolve on questions which should arise over the constitutionality of a decree having force of law;
  4. To resolve on questions which should arise regarding constitutionality on calling a plebiscite, without prejudice to the powers corresponding to the Elections Qualifying Court.
  5. To resolve on complaints in case the President of the Republic does not promulgate a law when he should, or when he promulgate a text different from that which constitutionally corresponds or when he issues an unconstitutional decree;
  6. To decide, when required by the President of the Republic in conformity with Article 88, on the constitutionality of a decree or resolution of the President which the Office of the Comptroller General may have objected to, for deeming it unconstitutional;
  7. To declare the unconstitutionality of organizations, movements or political parties, in accordance with the provisions of Article 8 of this Constitution;
  8. To declare, in conformity with Article 8 of this Constitution, the responsibility of persons who attempt or who should have attempted against institutional order of the Republic. However, if the affected person were the President of the Republic or the President-elect, said declaration shall, in addition, require the agreement of the Senate, adopted by a majority of its members in office;
  9. To report to the Senate on the cases referred to in Article 49, No 7, of this Constitution;
  10. To decide on the constitutional or legal inabilities preventing a person from being appointed Minister of State, from remaining in that post, or from performing other functions simultaneously;
  11. To pronounce itself on ineligibility, incompatibilities and grounds for ceasing the terms of office of congressmen; and
  12. To decide on the constitutionality of supreme decrees issued by the President of the Republic within his reglamentary powers, when such decrees are issued on matters that might be reserved to the law by mandate of Article 60.
  1. The Constitutional Court may conscientiously analyze facts when taking cognizance of the powers indicated in Nos.7, 8, 9 and 10; likewise, when dealing with grounds for ceasing the post of a member of Congress.
  2. In the case of No 1, the Chamber of origin shall forward to the Constitutional Court the respective bill within the five days following completion thereof by Congress.
  3. In the case of No 2, the Court may only take cognizance of the matter at the request of the President of the Republic, or of either of the Chambers, or of a fourth of their members in office, provided such request is made before the law has been promulgated.
  4. The Court must take a decision within a period of ten days counted from the date on which the request has been received, unless it decides to postpone it for another ten days for serious and justified reasons.
  5. The request shall not suspend consideration of the bill; however, the part thereof which is objected to may not be promulgated until the aforementioned period has expired, except when it deals with the Budgetary Law Bill or with the Bill related to the declaration of war proposed by the President of the Republic.
  6. In the case of No 3, the questions may be formulated by the President of the Republic within a period of ten days, when the Comptroller General objects to a decree having force of law on grounds of unconstitutionality. The questions may also be raised by either of the Chambers or by a fourth of their members in office in case the Office of the Comptroller General should have registered a decree having force of law objected to for being unconstitutional. This request must be made within a period of thirty days from the time of publication of the respective decree having force of law.
  7. In the case of No 4, the question may be raised at the request of the Senate or the Chamber of Deputies, within ten days of the date of publication of the decree which sets the date for the plebiscite.
  8. The Court shall establish the definitive text of the questions submitted to plebiscite in its decision when appropriate.
  9. If the decision is issued less than thirty days prior to the date on which the plebiscite should be held, the Court shall establish a new date, extending between thirty and sixty days following the decision.
  10. In the cases of No 5, the question may be raised by either of the Chambers or by one-fourth of their members in office, within thirty days following publication or notification of the objected text, or within sixty days following the date on which the President of the Republic should have promulgated the law. If the Court accepts the demand, it shall promulgate in its decision the law which had not been promulgated or rectify the incorrect promulgation thereof.
  11. In the case of No 9, the Court may only take cognizance of the matter at the request of the Chamber of Deputies or of a fourth of its members in office.
  12. Public action shall be available to petition the Court regarding the powers conferred thereupon by Nos.7, 8 and 10 of this Article.
  13. However, if in the case of No 8, the person affected were the President of the Republic or the President-elect, the petition shall be filed by the Chamber of Deputies or a fourth of its members in office.
  14. In the case of No 11, the Court may only take cognizance of the matter at the request of the President of the Republic or of at least ten Congressmen in office.
  15. In the case of No 12, the Court may only take cognizance of the matter at the request of either Chamber made within thirty days following the publication or notification of the objected text.
Article 83
  1. No appeal whatsoever shall apply against the decisions of the Constitutional Court; nevertheless, the same Court, in conformity with the law may correct the de facto errors which may have been made.
  2. The provisions which the Court should declare to be unconstitutional may not become a law in the bill or decree having force of law dealing therewith. In the cases of Nos 5 and 12 of Article 82, the objected supreme decree shall be rendered void as a matter of law, on the sole merit of the sentence of the Court accepting the claim. Once the Court has decided that a specific legal precept is constitutional, the Supreme Court may not declare it inapplicable on the same grounds on which the sentence was based.