Milton Ray: “The Constitution does not exist to apply it sometimes yes and sometimes no”
SANTO DOMINGO. The presiding magistrate of the Constitutional Tribunal, Milton Ray Guevara, warned that the Constitution “does not exist to be applied sometimes yes and sometimes no.”
“This has been the great Ibero-American tragedy: the difference between what is written and what is real.” Rey Guevara made the statement during a speech at the opening of the X Ibero-American Conference on Constitutional Justice, with President Danilo Medina in attendance. There were 14 chief magistrates of constitutional tribunals and Ibero-American judges of the constitutional jurisdiction.
He said that the people want the Constitution to stop being a simple political document that establishes the public powers, the mechanisms for constitutional reform, and becomes a norm “with judicial value and efficient practice applicable directly and an obligatory benchmark to determine the validity of the other judicial norms and acts of the public powers.”
Paraphrasing Francisco Tomas y Valiente, the distinguished presiding magistrate of the Spanish Constitutional Tribunal, he suggested that “the best guarantee for the Constitution not to be a mere programmatic statement, but rather a norm which obliges all of the public powers, including even the Executive Branch, is the existence of an jurisdictional agency that only talks when questioned and when the question is asked by whoever can do it, and whose answer consists in a respect for the Constitution.”
“Naturally, each country and each tribunal are immersed in their own historical, social, cultural and political realities, not always compatible or understood by others.”
He commented that from 1844, in article 125 of the first Constitution, it was proclaimed: “No tribunal can apply an unconstitutional law, nor the decrees, general administrative regulations, but rather regarding how these conform to the laws.”
This imposition was directly aimed at the Judicial Power. Nevertheless, Ray Guevara notes that a constitutional tribunal “is not the only agency required to defend the Constitution, neither are judicial means the only road for its defense.”
In the Dominican case, he recalled that their first Constitution, in Article 35 establishes: “No law can be made that is contrary to the letter or the spirit of the Constitution; in the case of doubt, the text of the Constitution should always prevail.” This limit was imposed on the Legislative Power. With respect to the public powers and that of citizens, the principle of the supremacy of the Constitution is retaken with absolute firmness in Article 6, “of the agreed upon and model Constitution of 26 January 2010.”
The central issue of the Conference, which ends today is “Judicial Norms and Judicial Supremacy in the Constitution,” After the inaugural act, the judge of the Constitutional Tribunal, Pedro Gonzalez Trevijano gave the conference “The Superiority of Constitutional Regulations” , while the magistrate of the high court, Justo Pedro Castellanos, presented the first part of the compilation of the answers to the questionnaire that was the object of the central debate.
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