A constitutional court is a high court that deals primarily with constitutional law. Its main authority is to rule on whether or not laws that are challenged are in fact unconstitutional, i.e. whether or not they conflict with constitutionally established rights and freedoms.
The list in this article is of countries that have a separate constitutional court. Many countries do not have separate constitutional courts, but instead delegate constitutional judicial authority to their supreme court. Nonetheless, such courts are sometimes also called "constitutional courts"; for example, some have called the Supreme Court of the United States "the world's oldest constitutional court" because it was the first court in the world to invalidate a law as unconstitutional (Marbury v. Madison), even though it is not a separate constitutional court.
The Constitutional Court (at the time by the name only) was the Austrian one. It had taken up its duties a year earlier in 1919 but it gained power to revise laws of the federal states only after the new Constitution was adopted later on October 10, 1920. Czechoslovakia was the first country to adopt a Constitution which provided for review of the constitutionality of acts of parliament by a special court, on 2 February 1920, but it was not until November 1921 that the court first convened. Before that, only the U.S., Norway, Canada and Australia had adopted the concept of judicial review through their supreme courts.
Countries with separate constitutional courts include:
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Democratic Republic of the Congo
- Czech Republic
- South Africa
- South Korea
- Republic of China (Taiwan)
- Constitutional economics
- Rule of law
- Rule According to Higher Law