Venezuela's Supreme Court on Tuesday banned the congress from investigating the government's rushed appointment of 13 high court justices last year.

The ruling came just hours before lawmakers planned to debate the issue. It set up another likely clash between the opposition-controlled National Assembly and President Nicolas Maduro's socialist administration.

A lame duck government-controlled congress approved the appointment of 13 Supreme Court justices just before Christmas in a move that the opposition has said undermined its landslide victory in legislative elections.

The appointments filled vacancies left by justices who retired early. The opposition has said it has evidence that some of the justices were forced to quit under threat.

The Supreme Court said in its ruling that the National Assembly would be overstepping its authority if it attempted to remove or even review the appointments.