Constitutional Court
Tribunal Constitucional
Headquarters of the Constitutional Court
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 budget 28.42 million (2022)[1]
CurrentlyCándido Conde-Pumpido
Since12 January 2023
Vice President
CurrentlyInmaculada Montalbán Huertas
Since12 January 2023

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 justices (Spanish: magistrados) 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 justices of the Court, a President is elected for a three-year term, who is assisted by a Vice President, who is also justice, and a secretary-general, that is the responsible for overseeing the staff of the court.[3]


The Constitutional Court consists of a president, currently Cándido Conde-Pumpido, the vice president, currently Inmaculada Montalbán Huertas and ten justices (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)
Ricardo Enríquez Sancho
Madrid, Community of Madrid
Senate March 19, 2014
10 years, 90 days
Magistrate of the Supreme Court
Cándido Conde-Pumpido
September 22, 1949
La Coruña, Galicia
Senate March 15, 2017
7 years, 94 days
Magistrate of the Supreme Court
María Luisa Balaguer Callejón
Almería, Andalusia
Senate March 15, 2017
7 years, 94 days
Professor of Constittuional Law at the University of Malaga (1999–2017) and Member of the Consultative Council of Andalusia (2005–2017)
Juan Ramón Sáez Valcárcel
June 23, 1957
Madrid, Community of Madrid
Congress of Deputies November 18, 2021
2 years, 212 days
Magistrate of the Audiencia Nacional
Enrique Arnaldo Alcubilla
Madrid, Community of Madrid
Congress of Deputies November 18, 2021
2 years, 212 days
Clerk of the Cortes Generales
Concepción Espejel Jorquera
September 15, 1959
Madrid, Community of Madrid
Congress of Deputies November 18, 2021
2 years, 212 days
Chair of the Criminal Chamber of the Audiencia Nacional
Inmaculada Montalbán Huertas
November 26, 1959
Iznalloz, Andalusia
Congress of Deputies November 18, 2021
2 years, 212 days
Chair of the Administrative Chamber of the High Court of Justice of Andalusia, Ceuta and Melilla
Juan Carlos Campo Moreno
October 17, 1961
Osuna, Andalusia
Government January 9, 2023
1 year, 160 days
Magistrate of the Audiencia Nacional
Laura Díez Bueso
Barcelona, Catalonia
Government January 9, 2023
1 year, 160 days
Vicepresident of the Council for Statutory Guarantees of Catalonia
María Luisa Segoviano Astaburuaga
Valladolid, Castile and León
General Council of the Judiciary January 9, 2023
1 year, 160 days
Chair of the Labour Chamber of the Supreme Court
César Tolosa Tribiño
Santa María la Real de Nieva, Castile and León
General Council of the Judiciary January 9, 2023
1 year, 160 days
Chair of the Administrative Chamber of the Supreme Court

Emeritus Justices

Any previously appointed justice of the Constitutional Court becomes an emeritus justice (Spanish: magistrados eméritos) after their term of office.

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.[11] 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.[12]

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 did not 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.[13][14]

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.[15]

In 2017, the court ordered those responsible for the referendum on November 9, 2014 to pay 5 million euros.[16] In addition, social agents from Spain have demanded that the distribution of public funds in the Catalan press should be audited.[17]

In 2022, the court blocked draft legislation which would have made changes to the General Council of the Judiciary.[18] The move to prevent the legislation was condemned by Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, who said he would use "whatever means necessary" to resolve the crisis.[19]

See also


  1. ^ Spanish pronunciation: [tɾiβuˈnal konstituθjoˈnal]


  1. ^ "Constitutional Court Budget for 2022" (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. Archived from the original on April 21, 2016. Retrieved December 8, 2006. ((cite journal)): 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.
  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. ^ "Guatemalan court to rule soon on Spanish request for arrest of ex-dictator". International Herald Tribune. December 6, 2006.
  12. ^ "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.
  13. ^ "I·CONnect – The Spanish Constitutional Tribunal's Same-Sex Marriage Decision". Retrieved October 26, 2018.
  14. ^ "Spain Constitutional Court rejects same-sex marriage challenge". Retrieved October 26, 2018.
  15. ^ "Claves de la renovación del Tribunal Constitucional" [The Keys to the Renewal of the Constitutional Court]. El Mundo (in Spanish). May 27, 2010.
  16. ^ "Spanish auditors demand Catalan leaders pay for previous independence vote". Reuters. September 5, 2017.
  17. ^ "181 millones para los medios en pleno proceso soberanista". El Mundo. September 8, 2014.
  18. ^ Jones, Sam (December 20, 2022). "Spanish PM vows to end 'unjustifiable' block on court changes". the Guardian. Guardian.
  19. ^ Cué, Carlos E. (December 20, 2022). "Pedro Sánchez pide "serenidad" y garantiza que resolverán el bloqueo del Constitucional y el Poder Judicial". El País (in Spanish).

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