Judicial power is exercised by the Supreme Court of Justice and other lower courts established by Congress within the national territory (art. 108). In no circumstances may the President exercise judicial functions, assume jurisdiction over pending cases or reopen cases that have been closed (art. 109).

Prior to the reforms, judges were appointed by the Executive with the approval of the Senate. According to the new constitutional text, appointments are based on a binding list of three candidates proposed by the Council of the Magistrature (art. 114). This Council is reconstituted periodically in such a way as to achieve balanced representation of the political bodies resulting from the popular election, judges from all the courts, and lawyers on the federal register, as well as other persons from the academic and scientific fields, the size and structure of the Council being spelled out in the special law establishing it.

The judges of the Supreme Court and lower courts retain their posts as long as they maintain a good standard of conduct (art. 110). They may be removed from office by the decision of an impeachment jury composed of legislators, magistrates and registered lawyers (art. 115), on grounds of poor performance or professional misconduct or for ordinary offences (art. 53).

It is the responsibility of the Supreme Court and lower courts to hear and decide all cases relating to matters governed by the Constitution, the laws of the Nation or treaties with foreign nations; the Supreme Court exercises jurisdiction over appeals in accordance with the rules and exceptions prescribed by Congress.

The foregoing notwithstanding, the Supreme Court has primary and exclusive competence in: cases concerning ambassadors, government procurators and foreign consuls; cases involving the admiralty and maritime jurisdiction; matters in which the Nation is a party; and cases arising between two or more provinces, between one province and the residents of another province, between the residents of different provinces, and between one province and its residents against a foreign State or citizen.

Administration of Justice

Under the Argentine legal system, the administration of justice is a power shared by the Nation and the provinces. Articles 5 and 123 of the Constitution provide that each province shall enact its own constitution in accordance with the principles, declarations and guarantees of the supreme law, "which ensures its administration of justice". The provinces elect their own officials and judges, without intervention by the Federal Government (art. 122). At the same time, article 31 of the Constitution provides that the Constitution itself, the laws enacted by Congress in pursuance thereof, and treaties with foreign Powers are the supreme law of the Nation, and the authorities of each province are bound thereby, notwithstanding any provision to the contrary which the provincial laws or constitutions may contain.

The Judiciary of each province is responsible for the administration of ordinary justice within that province's territory, applying the codes mentioned in article 75, paragraph 12, namely, the Civil, Commercial, Criminal, Mining, Labour and Social Security Codes - depending on the jurisdiction under which matters or persons lie.

As to national justice, under article 116 of the Constitution the Supreme Court and the lower courts hear and decide all cases relating to matters governed by the Constitution and the laws of the Nation, except those matters falling to the provincial jurisdictions. In these cases, according to article 117, the Supreme Court exercises jurisdiction over appeals.