Constitutional Court of Portugal

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The Constitutional Court of Portugal (Portuguese: Tribunal Constitucional, pronounced: [tɾibuˈnaɫ kõʃtitusiuˈnaɫ]) is a special court, defined by the Portuguese Constitution as part of the judicial branch of the Portuguese political organization. Unlike the rest of the country's courts, the Constitutional Court has important characteristics, such as a special composition, and unique competences. The main task of the court is to review the constitutionality of the newly approved laws, but it also has important powers related to the President of the Republic, the political parties and referenda.

The Portuguese Constitution defines the Constitutional Court as a completely independent organ, that operates independently from the other branches of government, such as the Executive or the Legislative. The judges of the Constitutional Court are independent and cannot be impeached. The decisions of the court are above the decisions of any other authority.

The court works in Lisbon, in the Ratton Palace located in Bairro Alto.

Organization

The court is composed by thirteen judges, ten of them are elected by the Assembly of the Republic, the main legislative branch of the country, and must be elected by Two-thirds majority of the members of the Assembly. The remaining three are elected by the already elected judges. Of the thirteen judges that compose the court, six must be chosen among the general court's judges, the remaining must, at least, have a degree in law. The judges serve a nine years mandate and cannot be re-elected.

The Constitutional Court elects its own president and vice-president and approves its own rules, schedule and budget.

The President of the Constitutional Court is the third person in the Portuguese state hierarchy and has several competences, for example, conducting the relations between the court and the other authorities, he receives the candidatures for President of the Republic and presiding the court's sessions. The current president (as of 2007) is Rui Manuel Gens de Moura Ramos.


Competences

The Constitutional Court has several competences, defined in the Constitution, such as:

  • Assure that the Constitution and regional autonomies are respected;
  • Review and assure the constitutionality of the laws;
  • Declare the President's death or inability to carry out his tasks;
  • Manage the electoral processes;
  • Assure that political parties fulfil the legal requirements to exist;
  • Prohibit and dissolve Fascist parties and organizations;
  • Assure the legality of the national and local referendums.

See also

References

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