Constitutional Court of Spain
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Constitutional Court of Spain

Constitutional Court
Tribunal Constitucional
Escudo de España (mazonado).svg
Tribunal Constitucional.jpg
Headquarters of the Constitutional Court
LocationMadrid, Spain
Composition methodAppointed by the King after being nominated by the Parliament, the General Council of the Judiciary and the Government.
Authorized bySpanish Constitution
Judge term length9 years, non renewable
Number of positions12
Annual budgetEUR 23,866,870 (2018)[1]
CurrentlyJuan José González Rivas
Since22 March 2017
Vice President
CurrentlyEncarnación Roca Trías
Since22 March 2017

The Constitutional Court (Spanish: Tribunal Constitucional)[n. 1] is the supreme interpreter of the Spanish Constitution, with the power to determine the constitutionality of acts and statutes made by any public body, central, regional, or local in Spain. It is defined in Part IX[2] (sections 159 through 165) of the Constitution of Spain, and further governed by Organic Laws 2/1979 (Law of the Constitutional Court of 3 October 1979),[3] 8/1984, 4/1985, 6/1988, 7/1999 and 1/2000.[4] The court is the "supreme interpreter"[4] of the Constitution, but since the court is not a part of the Spanish Judiciary,[4] the Supreme Court is the highest court for all judicial matters.[5]


The Constitutional Court is authorized to rule on the constitutionality of laws, acts, or regulations set forth by the national or the regional parliaments.[6] It also may rule on the constitutionality of international treaties before they are ratified, if requested to do so by the Government, the Congress of Deputies, or the Senate.[6] The Constitution further declares that individual citizens may appeal to the Constitutional Court for protection against governmental acts that violate their "fundamental rights or freedoms".[3][6] Only individuals directly affected can make this appeal, called a recurso de amparo, and they can do this only after exhausting judicial appeals.[6] Public officials, specifically "the President of the Government, the Defender of the People, fifty Members of Congress, fifty Senators, the Executive body of an Autonomous Community and, where applicable, its Assembly",[7] may also request that the court determine the constitutionality of a law. The General Electoral Law of June 1985 additionally allows appeals to this court in cases where electoral boards exclude candidates from the ballot.[3]

In addition, this court has the power to preview the constitutionality of texts delineating statutes of autonomy and to settle conflicts of jurisdiction between the central and the autonomous community governments, or between the governments of two or more autonomous communities.[6] Because many of the constitutional provisions pertaining to autonomy questions are ambiguous and sometimes contradictory, this court could play a critical role in Spain's political and social development.[6]The decisions of the Constitutional Court cannot be appealed by anyone.[3][8]


This court consists of twelve magistrates (justices) who serve for nine-year terms. Four of these are nominated by the Congress of Deputies, four by the Senate, two by the executive branch of the government, and two by the General Council of the Judiciary;[6] all are formally appointed by the King.[3] The Constitution sets a minimum standard of fifteen years of experience in fields related to jurisprudence, including "magistrates and prosecutors, university professors, public officials and lawyers,"[9] and must not contemporaneously hold a position that may detract from their independence, such as a post in a political party or a representative position.[10]

Amongst and by the magistrates of the court, a President is elected for a three-year term, who is assisted by a Vice President, who is also magistrate, and a secretary-general, that is the responsible for overseeing the staff of the court.[3]

Current magistrates

The Constitutional Court consists of a president, currently Juan José González Rivas, the vice president, currently María Encarna Roca Trías and ten magistrates (whom can be judges or jurists with relevant experience).

Magistrate /
birthdate and place
Nominated by Start date /
length of service
Previous position or office
(most recent prior to joining the Court)
Juan José González Rivas en Sevilla en 2017 (1).jpg Juan José González Rivas
May 10, 1951
Ávila, Castile and León
Congress of Deputies July 21, 2012
9 years, 57 days
Magistrate of the Administrative Law Chamber of the Supreme Court (2005-2012)[11]
(María Encarnación Roca Trías) María Dolores Cospedal recibe al Pleno del Tribunal Constitucional (9014693693) (cropped).jpg María Encarna Roca Trías
April 26, 1944
Barcelona, Catalonia
Congress of Deputies July 21, 2012
9 years, 57 days
Magistrate of the Civil Law Chamber of the Supreme Court (2005-2012)[11]
(Andrés Ollero) María Dolores Cospedal recibe al Pleno del Tribunal Constitucional (9014693693) (cropped).jpg Andrés Ollero Tassara
May 15, 1944
Seville, Andalusia
Congress of Deputies July 21, 2012
9 years, 57 days
Professor of Philosophy of Law at the Rey Juan Carlos University (2003-2012)[11]
(Fernando Valdés Dal-Ré) María Dolores Cospedal recibe al Pleno del Tribunal Constitucional (9014693693) (cropped).jpg Fernando Valdés Dal-Ré
April 22, 1945
Valladolid, Castile and León
Congress of Deputies July 21, 2012
9 years, 57 days
Professor of Labour Law at the Complutense University of Madrid (1991-2012) and Counsellor of the Economic and Social Council (2005-2012)[11]
Spanish Constitutional Court Magistrate Badge.svg Santiago Martínez-Vares García
March 7, 1942
Santander, Cantabria
General Council of the Judiciary June 13, 2013
8 years, 95 days
Chair of the Administrative Law Chamber of the High Court of Justice of Andalusia (1995-2013)
Spanish Constitutional Court Magistrate Badge.svg Juan Antonio Xiol Ríos
September 24, 1946
Barcelona, Catalonia
General Council of the Judiciary June 13, 2013
8 years, 95 days
Chair of the Civil Law Chamber of the Supreme Court (2005-2013)
Pedro González Trevijano en la Feria del Libro de Madrod (cropped).jpg Pedro González-Trevijano
March 13, 1958
Madrid, Community of Madrid
Government June 13, 2013
8 years, 95 days
Rector of the King Juan Carlos University (2002-2013)
Spanish Constitutional Court Magistrate Badge.svg Ricardo Enríquez Sancho
Madrid, Community of Madrid
Senate March 18, 2014
7 years, 182 days
Member of the Governing Council of the Supreme Court (2004-2014)
Spanish Constitutional Court Magistrate Badge.svg Antonio Narváez Rodríguez
February 23, 1958
Badajoz, Extremadura
Government July 9, 2014
7 years, 69 days
Lieutenant Attorney of the Supreme Court (2013-2014)
Spanish Constitutional Court Magistrate Badge.svg Alfredo Montoya Melgar
September 25, 1937
Madrid, Community of Madrid
Senate March 11, 2017
4 years, 189 days
Retired Professor of Labour and Social Security Law
Cándido Conde-Pumpido.jpg Cándido Conde-Pumpido
September 22, 1949
La Coruña, Galicia
Senate March 11, 2017
4 years, 189 days
Magistrate of the Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court (2012-2017)
Maria Luisa Balaguer.jpg María Luis Balaguer Callejón
Almería, Andalusia
Senate March 11, 2017
4 years, 189 days
Professor of Constittuional Law at the University of Malaga (1999-2017) and Member of the Consultative Council of Andalusia (2005-2017)

Notable decisions

In 2005, the court ruled that the Spanish judicial system could handle cases concerning crimes against humanity, such as genocide, regardless of whether Spanish citizens were involved or directly affected.[12] In this instance, it reversed the decision made by the Supreme Court in the same case, which held that such cases could be brought before Spanish courts only if a Spanish victim was involved.[13]

In 2005, a challenge before the Court was presented denouncing the Same-sex Marriage Act of 2005 arguing that the Constitution says that «men and women have the right to marry with full legal equality» and this didn't allow same-sex marriages. In 2012, after seven years of study, the Court rule that the Constitution allows same-sex marriages because the social concept of marriage had evolved so the Constitution must to be interpreted according to the current cultural values.[14][15]

A controversial decision in 2010 declaring unconstitutional few articles of the Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia has been a source of much controversy and conflict since then, with some arguing that the judgement was illegitimate due to the removal of a judge and three more judges having their terms expired.[16]

In 2017, the court ordered those responsible for the referendum on November 9, 2014 to pay 5 million euros.[17] In addition, social agents from Spain have demanded that the distribution of public funds in the Catalan press should be audited.[18]

See also


  1. ^ Spanish pronunciation: [t?ibu'nal konstitu?jo'nal]


  1. ^ "Constitutional Court Budget for 2018" (PDF).
  2. ^ wikisource:Spanish Constitution of 1978/Part IX.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Newton, Michael T.; Peter J. Donaghy (1997). Institutions of modern Spain : a political and economic guide. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-57348-3.
  4. ^ a b c Olga Cabrero. "A Guide to the Spanish Legal System". Law Library Resource Xchange, LLC. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  5. ^ § 123, clause 1, Spanish Constitution of 1978.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g Browning Seeley, Jo Ann (1990). "The Judiciary". In Solsten, Eric; Meditz, Sandra W. (eds.). Spain: a country study. Washington, D.C.: Federal Research Division, Library of Congress. p. 221. OCLC 44200005. Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.CS1 maint: postscript (link)
  7. ^ § 162, clause 1a, Spanish Constitution of 1978
  8. ^ § 164, clause 1, Spanish Constitution of 1978
  9. ^ § 159, clause 2, Spanish Constitution of 1978
  10. ^ § 159, clauses 4 and 5, Spanish Constitution of 1978
  11. ^ a b c d Internet, Unidad Editorial. "PP y PSOE se reparten el Constitucional con jueces de marcada ideología". (in Spanish). Retrieved 2019.
  12. ^ "Guatemalan court to rule soon on Spanish request for arrest of ex-dictator". International Herald Tribune. December 6, 2006.
  13. ^ "Constitutional Court of Spain rules that its courts may hear genocide cases even if they do not involve Spanish citizens, and holds that principle of universal jurisdiction takes precedence over alleged national interests". International Law Update. 11 (10). October 2005.
  14. ^ "I·CONnect - The Spanish Constitutional Tribunal's Same-Sex Marriage Decision". Retrieved 2018.
  15. ^ "Spain Constitutional Court rejects same-sex marriage challenge". Retrieved 2018.
  16. ^ "Claves de la renovación del Tribunal Constitucional" [The Keys to the Renewal of the Constitutional Court]. El Mundo (in Spanish). May 27, 2010.
  17. ^ "Spanish auditors demand Catalan leaders pay for previous independence vote". Reuters.
  18. ^ "181 millones para los medios en pleno proceso soberanista". El Mundo.

External links

Coordinates: 40°26?29?N 3°43?03?W / 40.4415°N 3.7176°W / 40.4415; -3.7176

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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