Venezuelan Supreme Court Blocks Parliamentary Motion to Remove Justices

by LUCAS KOERNER | 20 July, 2016

Philadelphia, July 20, 2016 ( – Venezuela’s Supreme Court (TSJ) struck down Tuesday a parliamentary commission seeking to unseat the high court’s 13 justices over alleged constitutional violations.

Last week, a special commission created by opposition-led National Assembly (AN) released a report alleging that the 13 justices of the TSJ were named in an unconstitutional manner, concluding that three members of the court were unfit for their positions.

In its decision, the TSJ fired back that the December 23, 2015 session of the outgoing socialist-majority parliament appointing the 13 justices is “totally valid”, dismissing the AN commission as “illegitimate and constitutionally non-existent”. 

The high court cited Article 265 of the Venezuelan Constitution, which specifies that the removal of TSJ justices can “only be done by the National Assembly through a two-thirds majority in cases of grave misconduct, as authorized by the Citizens’ Power” branch of government.

Venezuela’s Citizen’s Power branch, which is comprised of the attorney general, the national ombudsman, and the comptroller, has yet to recommend an investigation of any of the TSJ justices.

The ruling is the latest chapter in a heated standoff between the opposition-controlled AN and the executive, judicial, and electoral branches of government.

The right-wing opposition coalition, the MUD, has repeatedly denounced the TSJ for blocking the majority of the laws approved by the AN since the new opposition-majority parliament was sworn in this past January.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has, for his part, accused the MUD of passing laws aimed at overturning the constitutional order, pointing to the controversial Amnesty Law as well as a constitutional amendment seeking to retroactively shorten the presidential term.

On Tuesday, the TSJ also ruled as constitutional an executive order issued by President Maduro extending by a further 60 days an Economic Emergency and State Exception which authorizes the head of state to pass laws aimed at addressing the nation’s deep economic crisis.

The decree was initially implemented in January and extended by a further sixty days in March.

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