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The Tribunal of Constitutional Guarantees

The TGC, rather than the CSJ, interprets and monitors compliance with the Constitution. Located in Quito, the TGC consists of eleven members and their substitutes, who serve for a two-year period, without the possibility of reelection. Congress appoints three TGC members who are nonlegislators and selects eight others from lists submitted by the president, the CSJ, the mayors and provincial prefects, the legal labor unions, and the Commercial Associations. TGC members selected to represent the legislative, executive, and judicial branches must not already be government officials; they must be citizens by birth, in possession of their rights of citizenship, over forty years of age, and doctors of jurisprudence; and they must have fifteen years of professional experience as lawyers, judges, or university professors in jurisprudence. TGC members representing the workers, the Commercial Associations, and the citizenry (such as the mayors and provincial prefects) are required only to be citizens by birth and in possession of their citizenship rights. The ministers of state, the comptroller general, and the leaders of recognized political parties may participate in TGC deliberations without voting rights.

The TGC's role has been secondary and temporary, and its decision-making power weak. Salgado points out that the control of constitutionality has been, in effect, entrusted to a largely political organ, Congress, which lacks the requisite impartiality for debating the unconstitutionality of laws, decrees, or resolutions enacted by Congress itself. Although the 1979 Constitution failed to give the TGC enforcement authority, the 1983 constitutional reforms partly rectified this deficiency. Under the 1983 reforms, the TGC may demand the dismissal of officeholders who violate TGC decisions, and the violators' superiors are obligated to comply; request judges to initiate penal action; or report its decision to Congress, which may act on it. The TGC may also suspend those laws, decrees, accords, regulations, ordinances, or resolutions that violate the Constitution. Nevertheless, it must submit its decision to Congress or, in its recess, to the PCL, for final resolution of the case of unconstitutionality. The PCL, for its part, has had relatively broad powers to control constitutionality.

The TGC has several other powers as well. During the recess of Congress, the TGC is empowered to authorize any foreign travel by the president and to revoke a state of national emergency. The Law of Municipal Regime allows the TGC to rule on cases involving the disqualification of municipal councillors (concejales municipales), vacancies, or unconstitutional ordinances that the Provincial Councils were unable to resolve. The Law of Political Parties of 1978 and the Law of Elections of 1987 also grant the TGC some electoral powers.

Data as of 1989