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Venezuela Supreme Court approves president's emergency decree

[JURIST] The Supreme Court of Venezuela on Thursday upheld President Nicolás Maduro's "economic emergency decree" as legal and valid despite Congress's rejection. The decree allows [Reuters report] the president to control the budget, companies and the currency. The opposition-led Congress maintained that the legislation failed to offer solutions to the country's inflation, recession and shortages. The court stated [El Universal report, in Spanish] in its ruling that the legislature did not follow procedure required by law to reject the legislation because lawmakers were given 48 hours to decide on the measure and failed to do so. The judges unanimously decided that Congress's failure to decide within the stated parameters was an "acquiescence" and ruled a default judgment in favor of the decree. Congress rejected the proposal because it argued [Chicago Tribune report for structural reform over more governmental control for the country's fragile economic situation.

The institutional standoff between the Supreme Court and Congress of Venezuela comes after a series of exchanges between the two. In January the court ruled [JURIST report] that all decisions from the opposition-led Congress would be void until three opposition lawmakers were relieved from their seats. The court's decision came days after the National Assembly swore [JURIST report] in the lawmakers and after the court had barred their induction. The ruling had suspended four elected lawmakers for alleged election fraud in the December elections. The elections had resulted [JURIST report] in the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) coalition winning 112 seats and the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) 55 sets, giving the opposition a two-thirds super-majority and extra powers. Extra powers would enable the legislature to remove judges from the top court and call for a referendum to remove current Maduro from office.

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