a. To exercise judicial review. The Constitutional Court reviews the constitutionality of statutory provisions (including executive decrees that are equivalent to statutes), both preemptively (a priori) and subsequently (a posteriori) of being enacted, either by inapplicability (as applied challenge) or unconstitutional (facial challenge) remedies. Preemptive review can be classified into discretionary (with limited standing, at the request of the President of the Republic, the Houses of Congress, or a number of its members in office) and compulsory (regarding interpretative constitutional laws, organic constitutional laws, and international treaties dealing with matters that should be regulated by organic constitutional laws). The Constitutional Court also reviews, preemptively and subsequently, proposals of amendment to the Constitution, and international treaties subject to congressional approval. It also exerts preemptive and subsequent review of executive orders and similar administrative regulations (decrees and resolutions). Finally, it resolves issues of constitutionality concerning self-regulations (Autos Acordados) issued by the highest judicial courts of the country (Supreme Court and Courts of Appeals), as well as those issued by the Electoral Court.
b. To settle inter-organic disputes: It resolves disputes between political or administrative authorities and courts that should not be resolved by the Senate.
c. To decide about inabilities, incompatibilities, resignations and grounds for removal from certain public offices, such as the President of the Republic, Ministers and Legislators.
d. To decide about constitutional wrongs: It declares as unconstitutional organizations, movements or political parties, as well as the President (in office or elected), who have committed the constitutional wrongs set forth by the Constitution in Article 19 No. 15, sixth and following paragraphs.
The Court works both as a Plenum -to exercise its powers, especially to judge the constitutionality of laws- or divided into two Chambers to review admissibility of petitions . The Plenum is made up of –at least- eight members, while the Chambers are made up of –at least- four.
The Constitutional Court of Chile is comprised by ten members who are called ‘Justices’. The highest authority of the Constitutional Court is its Chief Justice, who is elected by its members, by majority vote, lasts two years in office, and may be reappointed for the following term. There are also two Deputy Justices –holding the some powers as Associate Justices- where the quorum of the Plenum or the Chamber is not reached.
The order of precedence is determined by the Court itself, and the Chief Justices is subrogated by the Minister who follows in that order of precedence.
Decisions and agreements require simply majority, as a general rule, and judgments must be granted according to Law. Chambers shall rule on the admissibility of inapplicability remedies and of applications for stay of proceedings appealed within those remedies.
In accordance to the Constitution (Article 92) the ten Justices comprising the Constitutional Court are appointed as follows:
- 3 appointed by the President.
- 4 are elected by the National Congress: 2 are straightforwardly appointed by the Senate, and the other 2 are also appointed by the Senate but after the proposal from the House of Representatives.
- 3 are straightforwardly appointed by the Supreme Court.
Furthermore, the Constitutional Court has two Deputy Justices, who are elected every three years, [and] who shall take the place of Associate Justices in both the Plenum or of the Chambers only if the quorum for holding sessions is not reached. Deputy Justices are appointed by the President of the Republic, ratified by 2/3 of the Senate, chosen from a list of seven names proposed by the Constitutional Court after a public competition.
The Court has a lawyer who acts as Secretary Attorney and Certifying Officer. Court officials are subject to the immediate authority of the Secretary or of the Rapporteur Attorney, or its subrogate, if any. Currently, the Court has four Rapporteur Attorneys.
The Court appoints its officials following a public exam and a merit-based selection process.