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Venezuela's Supreme Court bars congress from investigating rushed judicial appointments

Pro government supporters protest outside of the National Assembly building in Caracas, Venezuela, Tuesday, March. 1, 2016. Venezuelas Supreme Court is banning congress from investigating the governments rushed appointment last year of 13 high court justices. The ruling came just hours before lawmakers are set to debate the issue and sets up another likely clash between the opposition controlled congress and President Nicolas Maduros socialist administration. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

Pro government supporters protest outside of the National Assembly building in Caracas, Venezuela, Tuesday, March. 1, 2016. Venezuelas Supreme Court is banning congress from investigating the governments rushed appointment last year of 13 high court justices. The ruling came just hours before lawmakers are set to debate the issue and sets up another likely clash between the opposition controlled congress and President Nicolas Maduros socialist administration. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

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 Nicolás 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.

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