Constitution of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico
We, the people of Puerto Rico, in order to organize
ourselves politically on a fully democratic basis, to promote the general
welfare, and to secure for ourselves and our posterity the complete enjoyment
of human rights, placing our trust in Almighty God, do ordain and establish
this Constitution for the commonwealth which, in the exercise of our natural
rights, we now create within our union with the United States of America.
In so doing, we declare:
The democratic system is fundamental to the life of the Puerto Rican
We understand that the democratic system of government is one in which
the will of the people is the source of public power, the political order
is subordinate to the rights of man, and the free participation of the
citizen in collective decisions is assured;
We consider as determining factors in our life our citizenship of the
United States of America and our aspiration continually to enrich our democratic
heritage in the individual and collective enjoyment of its rights and privileges;
our loyalty to the principles of the Federal Constitution; the co-existence
in Puerto Rico of the two great cultures of the American Hemisphere; our
fervor for education; our faith in justice; our devotion to the courageous,
industrious, and peaceful way of life; our fidelity to individual human
values above and beyond social position, racial differences, and economic
interests; and our hope for a better world based on these principles.
The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico is hereby constituted. Its
political power emanates from the people and shall be exercised in accordance
with their will, within the terms of the compact agreed upon between the
people of Puerto Rico and the United States of America.
Section 2. The government of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico shall
be republican in form and its legislative, judicial and executive branches
as established by this Constitution shall be equally subordinate to the
sovereignty of the people of Puerto Rico.
Section 3. The political authority of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico
shall extend to the Island of Puerto Rico and to the adjacent islands within
Section 4. The seat of the government shall be the city of San Juan.
BILL OF RIGHTS
Section 1. The dignity of the human being is inviolable. All men are
equal before the law. No discrimination shall be made on account of race,
color, sex, birth, social origin or condition, or political or religious
ideas. Both the laws and the system of public education shall embody these
principles of essential human equality.
Section 2. The laws shall guarantee the expression of the will of the
people by means of equal, direct and secret universal suffrage and shall
protect the citizen against any coercion in the exercise of the electoral
Section 3. No law shall be made respecting an establishment of religion
or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. There shall be complete separation
of church and state.
Section 4. No law shall be made abridging the freedom of speech or
of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition
the government for a redress of grievances.
Section 5. Every person has the right to an education which shall be
directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening
of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. There shall be a
system of free and wholly non-sectarian public education. Instruction in
the elementary and secondary schools shall be free and shall be compulsory
in the elementary schools to the extent permitted by the facilities of
the state. No public property or public funds shall be used for the support
of schools or educational institutions other than those of the state. Nothing
contained in this provision shall prevent the state from furnishing to
any child non-educational services established by law for the protection
or welfare of children.*
* By Resolution number 34, approved by the Constitutional
Convention and ratified in the Referendum held on November 4, 1952, section
5 of article II was amended, adding to such section the following declaration:
"Compulsory attendance at elementary public schools to the extent
permitted by the facilities of the state as herein provided shall not be
construed as applicable to those who receive elementary education in schools
established under non-governmental auspices."
Section 6. Persons may join with each other and organize freely for
any lawful purpose, except in military or quasi-military organizations.
Section 7. The right to life, liberty and the enjoyment of property
is recognized as a fundamental right of man. The death penalty shall not
exist. No person shall be deprived of his liberty or property without due
process of law. No person in Puerto Rico shall be denied the equal protection
of the laws. No laws impairing the obligation of contracts shall be enacted.
A minimum amount of property and possessions shall be exempt from attachment
as provided by law.
Section 8. Every person has the right to the protection of law against
abusive attacks on his honor, reputation and private or family life.
Section 9. Private property shall not be taken or damaged for public
use except upon payment of just compensation and in the manner provided
by law. No law shall be enacted authorizing condemnation of printing presses,
machinery or material devoted to publications of any kind. The buildings
in which these objects are located may be condemned only after a judicial
finding of public convenience and necessity pursuant to procedure that
shall be provided by law, and may be taken before such a judicial finding
only when there is placed at the disposition of the publication an adequate
site in which it can be installed and continue to operate for a reasonable
Section 10. The right of the people to be secure in their persons,
houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures shall
not be violated.
Wire-tapping is prohibited.
No warrant for arrest or search and seizure shall issue except by judicial
authority and only upon probable cause supported by oath or affirmation,
and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons to
be arrested or the things to be seized.
Evidence obtained in violation of this section shall be inadmissible
in the courts.
Section 11. In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the
right to have a speedy and public trial, to be informed of the nature and
cause of the accusation and to have a copy thereof, to be confronted with
the witnesses against him, to have assistance of counsel, and to be presumed
In all prosecutions for a felony the accused shall have the right of
trial by an impartial jury composed of twelve residents of the district,
who may render their verdict by a majority vote which in no case may be
less than nine.
No person shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against
himself and the failure of the accused to testify may be neither taken
into consideration nor commented upon against him.
No person shall be twice put in jeopardy of punishment for the same
Before conviction every accused shall be entitled to be admitted to
Incarceration prior to trial shall not exceed six months nor shall
bail or fines be excessive. No person shall be imprisoned for debt.
Section 12. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude shall exist except
in the latter case as a punishment for crime after the accused has been
duly convicted. Cruel and unusual punishments shall not be inflicted. Suspension
of civil rights including the right to vote shall cease upon service of
the term of imprisonment imposed.
No ex post facto law or bill of attainder shall be passed.
Section 13. The writ of habeas corpus shall be granted without
delay and free of costs. The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus
shall not be suspended, unless the public safety requires it in case of
rebellion, insurrection or invasion. Only the Legislative Assembly shall
have the power to suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus
and the laws regulating its issuance. The military authority shall always
be subordinate to civil authority.
Section 14. No titles of nobility or other hereditary honors shall
be granted. No officer or employee of the Commonwealth shall accept gifts,
donations, decorations or offices from any foreign country or officer without
prior authorization by the Legislative Assembly.
Section 15. The employment of children less than fourteen years of
age in any occupation which is prejudicial to their health or morals or
which places them in jeopardy of life or limb is prohibited.
No child less than sixteen years of age shall be kept in custody in
a jail or penitentiary.
Section 16. The right of every employee to choose his occupation freely
and to resign there from is recognized, as is his right to equal pay for
equal work, to a reasonable minimum salary, to protection against risks
to his health or person in his work or employment, and to an ordinary-workday
which shall not exceed eight hours. An employee may work in excess of this
daily limit only if he is paid extra compensation as provided by law, at
a rate never less than one and one-half times the regular rate at which
he is employed.
Section 17. Persons employed by private businesses, enterprises and
individual employers and by agencies or instrumentalities of the government
operating as private businesses or enterprises, shall have the right to
organize and to bargain collectively with their employers through representatives
of their own free choosing in order to promote their welfare.
Section 18. In order to assure their right to organize and to bargain
collectively, persons employed by private businesses, enterprises and individual
employers and by agencies, enterprises and individual employers and by
agencies or instrumentalities of the government operating as private businesses
or enterprises, in their direct relations with their own employers shall
have the right to strike, to picket and to engage in other legal concerted
Nothing herein contained shall impair the authority of the Legislative
Assembly to enact laws to deal with grave emergencies that clearly imperil
the public health or safety or essential public services.
Section 19. The foregoing enumeration of rights shall not be construed
restrictively nor does it contemplate the exclusion of other rights not
specifically mentioned which belong to the people in a democracy. The power
of the Legislative Assembly to enact laws for the protection of the life,
health and general welfare of the people shall likewise not be construed
Section 20. The Commonwealth also recognizes the existence of the
following human rights:
The right of every person to receive free elementary and secondary
The right of every person to obtain work.
The right of every person to a standard of living adequate for the
health and well being of himself and of his family, and especially to food,
clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services.
The right of every person to social protection in the event of unemployment,
sickness, old age or disability.
The right of motherhood and childhood to special care and assistance.
The rights set forth in this section are closely connected with the
progressive development of the economy of the Commonwealth and require,
for their full effectiveness, sufficient resources and an agricultural
and industrial development not yet attained by the Puerto Rican community.
In the light of their duty to achieve the full liberty of the citizen,
the people and the government of Puerto Rico shall do everything in their
power to promote the greatest possible expansion of the system of production,
to assure the fairest distribution of economic output, and to obtain the
maximum understanding between individual initiative and collective cooperation.
The executive and judicial branches shall bear in mind this duty and shall
construe the laws that tend to fulfill it in the most favorable manner
* By Resolution number 34, approved by the Constitutional
Convention and ratified in the Referendum held on November 4, 1962, section
20 of article II was eliminated.
Section 1. The legislative power shall be vested in a Legislative Assembly,
which shall consist of two houses, the Senate and the House of Representatives,
whose members shall be elected by direct vote at each general election.
Section 2, The Senate shall be composed of twenty-seven Senators and
the House of Representatives of fifty-one Representatives, except as these
numbers may be increased in accordance with the provisions of Section 7
of this Article.
Section 3. For the purpose of election of members of the Legislative
Assembly, Puerto Rico shall be divided into eight senatorial districts
and forty representative districts. Each senatorial district shall elect
two Senators and each representative district one Representative.
There shall also be eleven Senators and eleven Representatives elected
at large. No elector may vote for more than one candidate for Senator at
Large or for more than one candidate for Representative at Large.
Section 4. In the first and subsequent elections under this Constitution
the division of senatorial and representative districts as provided in
Article VIII shall be in effect. After each decennial census beginning
with the year 1960, said division shall be revised by a Board composed
of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court as Chairman and of two additional
members appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate.
The two additional members shall not belong to the same political party.
Any revision shall maintain the number of senatorial and representative
districts here created, which shall be composed of contiguous and compact
territory and shall be organized, insofar as practicable, upon the basis
of population and means of communication. Each senatorial district shall
always include five representative districts.
The decisions of the Board shall be made by majority vote and shall
take effect in the general elections next following each revision. The
Board shall cease to exist after the completion of each revision.
Section 5. No person shall be a member of the Legislative Assembly
unless he is able to read and write the Spanish or English language and
unless he is a citizen of the United States and of Puerto Rico and has
resided in Puerto Rico at least two years immediately prior to the date
of his election or appointment. No person shall be a member of the Senate
who is not over thirty years of age, and no person shall be a member of
the House of Representatives who is not over twenty-five years of age.
Section 6. No person shall be eligible to election or appointment as
Senator or Representative for a district unless he has resided therein
at least one year immediately prior to his election or appointment. When
there is more than one representative district in a municipality, residence
in the municipality shall satisfy this requirement.
Section 7. If in a general election more than two-thirds of the members
of either house are elected from one political party or from a single ticket,
as both are defined by law, the number of members shall be increased in
the following cases:
(a) If the party or ticket which elected more than two-thirds
of the members of either or both houses shall have obtained less than two-thirds
of the total number of votes cast for the office of Governor, the number
of members of the Senate or of the House of Representatives or of both
bodies, whichever may be the case, shall be increased by declaring elected
a sufficient number of candidates of the minority party or parties to bring
the total number of members of the minority party or parties to nine in
the Senate and to seventeen in the House of Representatives. When there
is more than one minority party, said additional members shall be declared
elected from among the candidates of each minority party in the proportion
that the number of votes cast for the candidate of each of said parties
for the office of Governor bears to the total number of votes cast for
the candidates of all the minority parties for the office of Governor.
When one or more minority parties shall have obtained representation
in a proportion equal to or greater than the proportion of votes received
by their respective candidates for Governor, such party or parties shall
not be entitled to additional members until the representation established
for each of the other minority parties under these provisions shall have
(b) If the party or ticket which elected more than two-thirds
of the members of either or both houses shall have obtained more than two-thirds
of the total number of votes cast for the office of Governor, and one or
more minority parties shall not have elected the number of members in the
Senate or in the House of Representatives or in both houses, whichever
may be the case, which corresponds to the proportion of votes cast by each
of them for the office of Governor, such additional number of their candidates
shall be declared elected as is necessary in order to complete said proportion
as nearly as possible, but the number of Senators of all the minority parties
shall never, under this provision, be more than nine or that of Representatives
more than seventeen.
In order to select additional members of the Legislative Assembly from
a minority party in accordance with these provisions, its candidates at
large who have not been elected shall be the first to be declared elected
in the order of the votes that they have obtained, and thereafter its district
candidates who; not having been elected, have obtained in their respective
districts the highest proportion of the total number of votes cast as compared
to the proportion of votes cast in favor of other candidates of the same
party not elected to an equal office in the other districts.
The additional Senators and Representatives whose election is declared
under this section shall be considered for all purposes as Senators at
Large or Representatives at Large.
The measures necessary to implement these guarantees, the method of
adjudicating fractions that may result from the application of the rules
contained in this section, and the minimum number of votes that a minority
party must cast in favor of its candidate for Governor in order to have
the right to the representation provided herein shall be determined by
the Legislative Assembly.
Section 8. The term of office of Senators and Representatives shall
begin on the second day of January immediately following the date of the
general election in which they shall have been elected. If, prior to the
fifteen months immediately preceding the date of the next general election,
a vacancy occurs in the office of Senator or Representative for a district,
the Governor shall call a special election in said district within thirty
days following the date on which the vacancy occurs. This election shall
be held not later than ninety days after the call, and the person elected
shall hold office for the rest of the unexpired term of his predecessor.
When said vacancy occurs during a legislative session, or when the Legislative
Assembly or the Senate has been called for a date prior to the certification
of the results of the special election, the presiding officer of the appropriate
house shall fill said vacancy by appointing the person recommended by the
central committee of the political party of which his predecessor in office
was a member. Such person shall hold the office until certification of
the election of the candidate who was elected. When the vacancy occurs
within fifteen months prior to a general election, or when it occurs in
the office of a Senator at Large or a Representative at Large, the presiding
officer of the appropriate house shall fill it, upon the recommendation
of the political party of which the previous holder of the office was a
member, by appointing a person selected in the same manner as that in which
his predecessor was selected. A vacancy in the office of a Senator at Large
or a Representative at Large elected as an independent candidate shall
be filled by an election in all districts.
Section 9. Each house shall be the sole judge of the election, returns
and qualifications of its members; shall choose its own officers; shall
adopt rules for its own proceedings appropriate to legislative bodies;
and, with the concurrence of three-fourths of the total number of members
of which it is composed, may expel any member for the causes established
in Section 21 of this Article, authorizing impeachments. The Senate shall
elect a President and the House of Representatives a Speaker from among
their respective members.
Section 10. The Legislative Assembly shall be deemed a continuous body
during the term for which its members are elected and shall meet in regular
session each year commencing on the second Monday in January. The duration
of regular sessions and the periods of time for introduction and consideration
of bills shall be prescribed by law. When the Governor calls the Legislative
Assembly into special session it may consider only those matters specified
in the call or in any special message sent to it by him during the session.
No special session shall continue longer than twenty calendar days.
Section 11. The sessions of each house shall be open.
Section 12. A majority of the total number of members of which each
house is composed shall constitute a quorum, but a smaller number may adjourn
from day to day and shall have authority to compel the attendance of absent
Section 13. The two houses shall meet in the capitol of Puerto Rico
and neither of them may adjourn for more than three consecutive days without
the consent of the other.
Section 14. No member of the Legislative Assembly shall be arrested
while the house of which he is a member is in session, or during the fifteen
days before or after such session, except for treason, felony or breach
of the peace. The members of the Legislative Assembly shall not be questioned
in any other place for any speech, debate or vote in either house or in
Section 15. No Senator or Representative may, during the term for which
he was elected or chosen, be appointed to any civil office in the Government
of Puerto Rico, its municipalities or instrumentalities, which shall have
been created or the salary of which shall have been increased during said
term. No person may hold office in the Government of Puerto Rico, its municipalities
or instrumentalities and be a Senator or Representative at the same time.
These provisions shall not prevent a member of the Legislative Assembly
from being designated to perform functions ad honorem.
Section 16. The Legislative Assembly shall have the power to create,
consolidate or reorganize executive departments and to define their functions.
Section 17. No bill shall become a law unless it has been printed,
read, referred to a committee and returned there from with a written report,
but either house may discharge a committee from the study and report of
any bill and proceed to the consideration thereof. Each house shall keep
a journal of its proceedings and of the voters cast for and against bills.
The legislative proceedings shall be published in a daily record in the
form determined by law. Every bill, except general appropriation bills,
shall be confined to one subject, which shall be clearly expressed in its
title, and any part of an act whose subject has not been expressed in the
title shall be void. The general appropriation act shall contain only appropriations
and rules for their disbursement. No bill shall be amended in a manner
that changes its original purpose or incorporates matters extraneous to
In amending any article or section of a law, said article or section
shall be promulgated in its entirety as amended. All bills for raising
revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives, but the Senate
may propose or concur with amendments as on other bills,
Section 18. The subjects which may be dealt with by means of joint
resolution shall be determined by law, but every joint resolution shall
follow the same legislative process as that of a bill.
Section 19. Every bill which is approved by a majority of the total
number of members of which each house is composed shall be submitted to
the Governor and shall become law if he signs it or if he does not return
it, with his objections, to the house in which it originated within ten
days (Sundays excepted) counted from the date on which he shall have received
When the Governor returns a bill the house that receives it shall enter
his objections on its journal and both houses may reconsider it. If approved
by two-thirds of the total number of members of which each house is composed,
said bill shall become law.
If the Legislative Assembly adjourns sine die before the Governor has
acted on a bill that has been presented to him less than ten days before,
he is relieved of the obligation of returning it with his objections and
the bill shall become law only if the Governor signs it within thirty days
after receiving it.
Every final passage or reconsideration of a bill shall be by a roll-call
Section 20. In approving any appropriation bill that contains more
than one item, the Governor may eliminate one or more of such items or
reduce their amounts, at the same time reducing the total amounts involved.
Section 21. The House of Representatives shall have exclusive power
to initiate impeachment proceedings and, with the concurrence of two-thirds
of the total number of members of which it is composed, to bring an indictment.
The Senate shall have exclusive power to try and to decide impeachment
cases, and in meeting for such purposes the Senators shall act in the name
of the people and under oath or affirmation. No judgment of conviction
in an impeachment trial shall be pronounced without the concurrence of
three-fourths of the total number of members of which the Senate is composed,
and the judgment shall be limited to removal from office. The person impeached,
however, may be liable and subject to indictment, trial, judgment and punishment
according to law. The causes of impeachment shall be treason, bribery,
other felonies, and misdemeanors involving moral turpitude. The Chief Justice
of the Supreme Court shall preside at the impeachment trial of the Governor.
The two houses may conduct impeachment proceedings in their regular
or special sessions. The presiding officers of the two houses, upon written
request of two-thirds of the total number of members of which the House
of Representatives is composed, must convene them to deal with such proceedings.
Section 22. The Governor shall appoint a Controller with the advice
and consent of a majority of the total number of members of which each
house is composed. The Controller shall meet the requirements prescribed
by law and shall hold office for a term of ten years and until his successor
has been appointed and qualifies. The Controller shall audit all the revenues,
accounts and expenditures of the Commonwealth, of its agencies and instrumentalities
and of its municipalities, in order to determine whether they have been
made in accordance with law. He shall render annual reports and any special
reports that may be required of him by the Legislative Assembly or by the
In the performance of his duties the Controller shall be authorized
to administer oaths, take evidence and compel under pain of contempt, the
attendance of witnesses and the production of books, letters, documents,
papers, records and all other articles deemed essential to a full understanding
of the matter under investigation.
The Controller may be removed for the causes and pursuant to the procedure
established in the preceding section.
Section 1. The executive power shall be vested in a Governor, who shall
be elected by direct vote in each general election.
Section 2. The Governor shall hold office for the term of four years
from the second day of January of the year following his election and until
his successor has been elected and qualifies. He shall reside in Puerto
Rico and maintain his office in its capital city.
Section 3. No person shall be Governor unless, on the date of the election,
he is at least thirty-five years of age, and is and has been during the
preceding five years a citizen of the United States and a citizen and bona
fide resident of Puerto Rico.
Section 4. The Governor shall execute the laws and cause them to be
He shall call the Legislative Assembly or the Senate into special session
when in his judgment the public interest so requires.
He shall appoint, in the manner prescribed by this Constitution or
by law, all officers whose appointment he is authorized to make. He shall
have the power to make appointments while the Legislative Assembly is not
in session. Any such appointments that require the advice and consent of
the Senate or of both houses shall expire at the end of the next regular
He shall be the commander-in-chief of the militia.
He shall have the power to call out the militia and summon the posse
comitatus in order to prevent or suppress rebellion, invasion or any serious
disturbance of the public peace.
He shall have the power to proclaim martial law when the public safety
requires it in case of rebellion or invasion or imminent danger thereof.
The Legislative Assembly shall meet forthwith on their own initiative to
ratify or revoke the proclamation.
He shall have the power to suspend the execution of sentences in criminal
cases and to grant pardons, commutations of punishment, and total or partial
remissions of fines and forfeitures for crimes committed in violation of
the laws of Puerto Rico. This power shall not extend to cases of impeachment.
He shall approve or disapprove in accordance with this Constitution
the joint resolutions and bills passed by the Legislative Assembly.
He shall present to the Legislative Assembly, at the beginning of each
regular session, a message concerning the affairs of the Commonwealth and
a report concerning the state of the Treasury of Puerto Rico and the proposed
expenditures for the ensuing fiscal year. Said report shall contain the
information necessary for the formulation of a program of legislation.
He shall exercise the other powers and functions and discharge the
other duties assigned to him by this Constitution or by law.
Section 5. For the purpose of exercising executive power, the Governor
shall be assisted by Secretaries whom he shall appoint with the advice
and consent of the Senate. The appointment of the Secretary of State shall
in addition require the advice and consent of the House of Representatives,
and the person appointed shall fulfill the requirements established in
Section 3 of this article. The Secretaries shall collectively constitute
the Governor's advisory council, which shall be designated as the Council
Section 6. Without prejudice to the power of the Legislative Assembly
to create, reorganize and consolidate executive departments and to define
their functions, the following departments are hereby established: State,
Justice, Education, Health, Treasury, Labor, Agriculture and Commerce,
and Public Works. Each of these executive departments shall be headed by
Section 7. When a vacancy occurs in the office of Governor, caused
by death, resignation, removal, total and permanent incapacity, or any
other absolute disability, said office shall devolve upon the Secretary
of State, who shall hold it for the rest of the term and until a new Governor
has been elected and qualifies. In the event that vacancies exist at the
same time in both the office of Governor and that of Secretary of State,
the law shall provide which of the Secretaries shall serve as Governor.
Section 8. When for any reason the Governor is temporarily unable to
perform his functions, the Secretary of State shall substitute for him
during the period he is unable to serve. If for any reason the Secretary
of State is not available, the Secretary determined by law shall temporarily
hold the office of Governor.
Section 9. If the Governor-elect shall not have qualified or if he
has qualified and a permanent vacancy occurs in the office of Governor
before he shall have appointed a Secretary of State, or before said Secretary,
having been appointed, shall have qualified, the Legislative Assembly just
elected, upon convening for its first regular session, shall elect, by
a majority of the total number of members of which each house is composed,
a Governor who shall hold office until his successor is elected in the
next general election and qualifies.
Section 10. The Governor may be removed for the causes and pursuant
to the procedure established in Section 21 of Article III of this Constitution.
Section 1. The judicial power of Puerto Rico shall be vested in a Supreme
Court, and in such other courts as may be established by law.
Section 2. The courts of Puerto Rico shall constitute a unified judicial
system for purposes of jurisdiction, operation and administration. The
Legislative Assembly may create and abolish courts, except for the Supreme
Court, in a manner not inconsistent with this Constitution, and shall determine
the venue and organization of the courts.
Section 3. The Supreme Court shall be the court of last resort in Puerto
Rico and shall be composed of a Chief Justice and four Associate Justices.
The number of Justices may be changed only by law upon request of the Supreme
Section 4. The Supreme Court shall sit, in accordance with rules adopted
by it, as a full court or in divisions composed of not less than three
Justices. No law shall be held unconstitutional except by a majority of
the total number of Justices of which the Court is composed in accordance
with this Constitution or with law. [As amended in General Election of
Nov. 8, 1960.)
Section 5. The Supreme Court, any of its divisions, or any of its Justices
may hear in the first instance petitions for habeas corpus and any
other causes and proceedings as determined by law.
Section 6. The Supreme Court shall adopt for the courts rules of evidence
and of civil and criminal procedure which shall not abridge, enlarge or
modify the substantive rights of the parties. The rules thus adopted shall
be submitted to the Legislative Assembly at the beginning of its next regular
session and shall not go into effect until sixty days after the close of
said session, unless disapproved by the Legislative Assembly, which shall
have the power both at said session and subsequently to amend, repeal or
supplement any of said rules by a specific law to that effect.
Section 7. The Supreme Court shall adopt rules for the administration
of the courts. These rules shall be subject to the laws concerning procurement,
personnel, audit and appropriation of funds, and other laws which apply
generally to all branches of the government. The Chief Justice shall direct
the administration of the courts and shall appoint an administrative director
who shall hold office at the will of the Chief Justice.
Section 8. Judges shall be appointed by the Governor with the advice
and consent of the Senate. Justices of the Supreme Court shall not assume
office until after confirmation by the Senate and shall hold their offices
during good behavior. The terms of office of the other judges shall be
fixed by law and shall not be less than that fixed for the terms of office
of a judge of the same or equivalent category existing when this Constitution
takes effect. The other officials and employees of the courts shall be
appointed in the manner provided by law.
Section 9. No person shall be appointed a Justice of the Supreme Court
unless he is a citizen of the United States and of Puerto Rico, shall have
been admitted to the practice of law in Puerto Rico at least ten years
prior to his appointment, and shall have resided in Puerto Rico at least
five years immediately prior thereto.
Section 10. The· Legislative Assembly shall establish a retirement
system for judges. Retirement shall be compulsory at the age of seventy
Section 11. Justices of the Supreme Court may be removed for the causes
and pursuant to the procedure established in Section 21 of Article III
of this Constitution. Judges of the other courts may be removed by the
Supreme Court for the causes and pursuant to the procedure provided by
Section 12. No judge shall make a direct or indirect financial contribution
to any political organization or party, or hold any executive office therein,
or participate in a political campaign of any kind, or be a candidate for
an elective public office unless he has resigned his judicial office at
least six months Prior to his nomination.
Section 13. In the event that a court or any of its divisions or sections
is changed or abolished by law, the person holding a post of judge therein
shall continue to hold it during the rest of the term for which he was
appointed and shall perform the judicial functions assigned to him by the
Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
Section 1. The Legislative Assembly shall have the power to create,
abolish, consolidate and reorganize municipalities; to change their territorial
limits; to determine their organization and functions; and to authorize
them to develop programs for the general welfare and to create any agencies
necessary for that purpose.
No law abolishing or consolidating municipalities shall take effect
until ratified in a referendum by a majority of the qualified electors
voting in said referendum in each of the municipalities to be abolished
or consolidated. The referendum shall be conducted in the manner determined
by law, which shall include the applicable procedures of the election laws
in effect when the referendum law is approved.
Section 2. The power of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico to impose and
collect taxes and to authorize their imposition and collection by municipalities
shall be exercised as determined by the Legislative Assembly and shall
never be surrendered or suspended. The power of the Commonwealth of Puerto
Rico to 'contract and to authorize the contracting of debts shall be exercised
as determined by the Legislative Assembly, but no direct obligations of
the Commonwealth for money borrowed directly by the Commonwealth evidenced
by bonds or notes for the payment of which the full faith credit and taxing
power of the Commonwealth shall be pledged shall be issued by the Commonwealth
if the total of (i) the amount of principal of and interest on such bonds
and notes, together with the amount of principal of and interest on all
such bonds and notes theretofore issued by the Commonwealth and then outstanding,
payable in any fiscal year and (ii) any amounts paid by the Commonwealth
in the fiscal year next preceding the then current fiscal year for principal
or interest on account of any outstanding obligations evidenced by bonds
or notes guaranteed by the Commonwealth, shall exceed 15% of the average
of the total amount of the annual revenues raised under the provisions
of Commonwealth legislation and covered into the Treasury of Puerto Rico
in the two fiscal years next preceding the then current fiscal year; and
no such bonds or notes issued by the Commonwealth for any purpose other
than housing facilities shall mature later than 30 years from their date
and no bonds or notes issued for housing facilities shall mature later
than 40 years from their date; and the Commonwealth shall not guarantee
any obligations evidenced by bonds or notes if the total of the amount
payable in any fiscal year on account of principal of and interest on all
the direct obligations referred to above theretofore issued by the Commonwealth
and then outstanding and the amounts referred to in item (ii) above shall
exceed 15 percent of the average of the total amount of such annual revenues.
The Legislative Assembly shall fix limitations for the issuance of
direct obligations by any of the municipalities of Puerto Rico for money
borrowed directly by such municipality evidenced by bonds or notes for
the payment of which the full faith, credit and taxing power of such municipality
shall be pledged; provided, however, that no such bonds or notes shall
be issued by any municipality in an amount which, together with the amount
of all such bonds and notes theretofore issued by such municipality and
then outstanding, shall exceed the percentage determined by the Legislative
Assembly, which shall be not less than five per centum (5%) nor more than
ten per centum (10%) of the aggregate tax valuation of the property within
The Secretary of the Treasury may be required to apply the available
revenues including surplus to the payment of interest on the public debt
and the amortization thereof in any case provided for by Section 8 of this
Article VI at the suit of any holder of bonds or notes issued in evidence
thereof. [As amended by the voters at a referendum held Dec. 10, 1961.]
Section 3. The rule of taxation in Puerto Rico shall be uniform.
Section 4. General elections shall be held every four years on the
day of November determined by the Legislative Assembly. In said elections
there shall be elected a Governor, the members of the Legislative Assembly,
and the other officials whose election on that date is provided for by
Every person over twenty-one years of age shall be entitled to vote
if he fulfills the other conditions determined by law. No person shall
be deprived of the right to vote because he does not know how to read or
write or does not own property.
All matters concerning the electoral process, registration of voters,
political parties and candidates shall be determined by law.
Every popularly elected official shall be elected by direct vote and
any candidate who receives more votes than any other candidate for the
same office shall be declared elected.
Section 5. The laws shall be promulgated in accordance with the procedure
prescribed by law and shall specify the terms under which they shall take
Section 6. If at the end of any fiscal year the appropriations necessary
for the ordinary operating expenses of the Government and for the payment
of interest on and amortization of the public debt for the ensuing fiscal
year shall not have been made, the several sums appropriated in the last
appropriation acts for the objects and purposes therein specified, so far
as the same may be applicable, shall continue in effect item by item, and
the Governor shall authorize the payments necessary for such purposes until
corresponding appropriations are made.
Section 7. The appropriations made for any fiscal year shall not exceed
the total revenues, including available surplus, estimated for said fiscal
Year unless the imposition of taxes sufficient to cover said appropriations
is provided by law.
Section 8. In case the available revenues including surplus for any
fiscal year are insufficient to meet the appropriations made for that year,
interest on the public debt and amortization thereof shall first be paid,
and other disbursements shall thereafter be made in accordance with the
order of priorities established by law.
Section 9. Public property and funds shall only be disposed of for public
purposes, for the support and operation of state institutions, and pursuant
Section 10· No law shall give extra compensation to any public
officer, employee, agent or contractor after services shall have been rendered
or contract made. No law shall extend the term of any public officer or
diminish his salary or emoluments after his election or appointment. No
person shall draw a salary for more than one office or position in the
government of Puerto Rico.
Section 11. The salaries of the Governor, the Secretaries, the members
of the Legislative Assembly, the Controller and Judges shall be fixed by
a special law and, except for the salaries of the members of the Legislative
Assembly, shall not be decreased during the terms for which they are elected
or appointed. The salaries of the Governor and the Controller shall not
be increased during said terms. No increase in the salaries of the members
of the Legislative Assembly shall take effect until the expiration of the
term of the Legislative Assembly during which it is enacted. Any reduction
of the salaries of the members of the Legislative Assembly shall be effective
only during the term of the Legislative Assembly which approves it.
Section 12. The Governor shall occupy and use, free of rent, the buildings
and properties belonging to the Commonwealth which have been or shall hereafter
be used and occupied by him as chief executive.
Section 13. The procedure for granting franchises, rights, privileges
and concessions of a public or quasi-public nature shall be determined
by law, but every concession of this kind to a person or private entity
must be approved by the Governor or by the executive official whom he designates.
Every franchise, right, privilege or concession of a public or quasi-public
nature shall be subject to amendment, alteration or repeal as determined
Section 14. No corporation shall be authorized to conduct the business
of buying and selling real estate or be permitted to hold or own real estate
except such as may be reasonably necessary to enable it to carry out the
purposes for which it was created, and every corporation authorized to
engage in agriculture shall by its charter be restricted to the ownership
and control of not to exceed five hundred acres of land; and this provision
shall be held to prevent any member of a corporation engaged in agriculture
from being in any wise interested in any other corporation engaged in agriculture.
Corporations, however, may loan funds upon real estate security, and
purchase real estate when necessary for the collection of loans, but they
shall dispose of real estate so obtained within five years after receiving
Corporations not organized in Puerto Rico, but doing business in Puerto
Rico, shall be bound by the provisions of this section so far as they are
These provisions shall not prevent the ownership, possession or management
of lands in excess of five hundred acres by the Commonwealth, its agencies
Section 15. The Legislative Assembly shall determine all matters concerning
the flag, the seal and the anthem of the Commonwealth. Once determined,
no law changing them shall take effect until one year after the general
election next following the date of enactment of said law.
Section 16. All public officials and employees of the Commonwealth,
its agencies, instrumentalities and political subdivisions, before entering
upon their respective duties, shall take an oath to support the Constitution
of the United States and the Constitution and laws of the Commonwealth
of Puerto Rico.
Section 17. In case of invasion, rebellion, epidemic or any other event
giving rise to a state of emergency, the Governor may call the Legislative
Assembly to meet in a place other than the Capitol of Puerto Rico, subject
to the approval or disapproval of the Legislative Assembly. Under the same
conditions, the Governor may, during the period of emergency, order the
government, its agencies and instrumentalities to be moved temporarily
to a place other than the seat of the government.
Section 18. All criminal actions in the courts of the Commonwealth
shall be conducted in the name and by the authority of "The People
of Puerto Rico" until otherwise provided by law.
Section 19. It shall be the public policy of the Commonwealth to conserve,
develop and use its natural resources in the most effective manner possible
for the general welfare of the community; to conserve and maintain buildings
and places declared by the Legislative Assembly to be of historic or artistic
value; to regulate its penal institutions in a manner that effectively
achieves their purposes and to provide, within the limits of available
resources, for adequate treatment of delinquents in order to make possible
their moral and social rehabilitation.
AMENDMENTS TO THE CONSTITUTION
Section 1. The Legislative Assembly may propose amendments to this
Constitution by a concurrent resolution approved by not less than two-thirds
of the total number of members of which each house is composed. All proposed
amendments shall be submitted to the qualified electors in a special referendum,
but if the concurrent resolution is approved by not less than three-fourths
of the total number of members of which each house is composed, the Legislative
Assembly may provide that the referendum shall be held at the same time
as the next general election. Each proposed amendment shall be voted on
separately and not more than three proposed amendments may be submitted
at the same referendum. Every proposed amendment shall specify the terms
under which it shall take effect, and it shall become a part of this Constitution
if it is ratified by a majority of the electors voting thereon. Once approved,
a proposed amendment must be published at least three months prior to the
date of the referendum.
Section 2. The Legislative Assembly, by a concurrent resolution approved
by two-thirds of the total number of members of which each house is composed,
may submit to the qualified electors at a referendum, held at the same
time as a general election, the question of whether a constitutional convention
shall be called to revise this Constitution. If a majority of the electors
voting on this question vote in favor of the revision, it shall be made
by a Constitutional Convention elected in the manner provided by law. Every
revision of this Constitution shall be submitted to the qualified electors
at a special referendum for ratification or rejection by a majority of
the votes cast at the referendum.
Section 3. No amendment to this Constitution shall alter the republican
form of government established by it or abolish its bill of rights.*
* By Resolution number 34, approved by the Constitutional
Convention and ratified in the Referendum held on November 4, 1952, the
following new sentence was added to section 3 of article VII: "Any
amendment or revision of this constitution shall be consistent with the
resolution enacted by the applicable provisions of the Constitution of
the United States, with the Puerto Rican Federal Relations Act and with
Public Law 600, Eighty-first Congress, adopted in the nature of a compact"
SENATORIAL AND REPRESENTATIVE DISTRICTS
Section 1. The senatorial and representative districts shall be the
I. SENATORIAL DISTRICT OF SAN JUAN, which shall be composed of the
following Representative Districts:
l.-- The Capital of Puerto Rico, excluding the present electoral precincts of Santurce and Río Piedras;
2.-- Electoral zones numbers 1 and 2 of the present precinct of Santurce;
3.-- Electoral zone number 3 of the present precinct of Santurce;
4.-- Electoral zone number 4 of the present precinct of Santurce; and
5.-- Wards Hato Rey, Puerto Nuevo and Caparra Heights of the Capital of Puerto Rico.
II. SENATORIAL DISTRICT OF BAYAMÓN, which shall be composed of the
following Representative Districts:
6.-- The municipality of Bayamón;
7.-- The municipalities of Carolina and Trujillo Alto;
8.-- The present electoral precinct of Río Piedras, excluding wards Hate Rey, Puerto
Nuevo and Caparra Heights of the Capital of Puerto Rico;
9.-- The municipalities of Cataño, Guaynabo and Toa Baja; and
lO.-- The municipalities of Toa Alta, Corozal and Naranjito.
III. SENATORIAL DISTRICT OF ARECIBO, which shall be composed of the
following Representative Districts:
ll.-- The municipalities of Vega Baja, Vega Alta and Dorado;
12.-- The municipalities of Manatí and Barceloneta;
13.-- The municipalities of Ciales and Morovis;
l4.-- The municipality of Arecibo; and
15.-The municipality of Utuado.
IV. SENATORIAL DISTRICT OF AGUADILLA, which shall be composed of the
following Representative Districts:
16. -The municipalities of Camuy, Hatillo
17. The municipalities of Aguadilla and Isabela;
municipalities of San Sebastián and Moca;
of Lares, Las Marías and Maricao; and
20.-The municipalities of
Añasco, Aguada and Rincón.
V. SENATORIAL DISTRICT OF MAYAGÜEZ, which shall be composed of the
following Representative Districts:
21.-- The municipality of Mayagüez;
22.-- The municipalities of Cabo Rojo, Hormigueros and Lajas;
municipalities of San Germán and Sabana Grande;
24.-- The municipalities
of Yauco and Guánica; and
25.-- The municipalities of Guayanilla and Peñuelas.
VI. SENATORIAL DISTRICT OF PONCE, which shall be composed of the following
26.-- The first, second, third, fourth, fifth
and sixth wards and the City Beach of the municipality of Ponce;
The municipality of Ponce, except for the first, second, third, fourth,
fifth and sixth wards and the City Beach;
28.-- The municipalities of Adjuntas
29.-- The municipalities of Juana Díaz, Santa Isabel
and Villalba; and
30.--The municipalities of Coamo and Orocovis.
VII. SENATORIAL DISTRICT OF GUAYAMA, Which shall be composed of the
following Representative Districts:
31.-- The municipalities of Aibonito,
Barranquitas and Comerio;
32.-- The municipalities of Cayey and Cidra;
33.-- The municipalities of Caguas and Aguas Buenas;
34.-- The municipalities
of Guayama and Salinas; and
35.-- The municipalities of Patillas, Maunabo
VIII. SENATORIAL DISTRICT OF HUMACAO, which shall be composed of the
following Representative Districts:
36.-- The municipalities of Humacao
37.-- The municipalities of Juncos, Guarabo and San Lorenzo;
38.-- The municipalities of Naguabo, Ceiba and Las Piedras;
39.-- The municipalities
of Fajardo and Vieques and the Island of Culebra; and
40.-- The municipalities
of Río Grande, and Loíza and Luquillo.
Section 2. Electoral zones numbers 1, 2, 3 and 4 included in three
representative districts within the senatorial district of San Juan are
those presently existing for purposes of electoral organization in the
second precinct of San Juan.
Section 1. When this Constitution goes into effect all laws not inconsistent
therewith shall continue in full force until amended or repealed, or until
they expire by their own terms.
Unless otherwise provided by this Constitution, civil and criminal
liabilities, rights, franchises, concessions, privileges, claims, actions,
causes of action, contracts, and civil criminal and administrative proceedings
shall continue unaffected, notwithstanding the taking effect of this Constitution.
Section 2. All officers who are in office by election or appointment
on the date this Constitution takes effect shall continue to hold their
offices and to perform the functions thereof in a manner not inconsistent
with this Constitution, unless the functions of their offices, are abolished
or until their successors are selected and qualify in accordance with this
Constitution and laws enacted pursuant thereto.
Section 3. Notwithstanding the age limit fixed by this Constitution
for compulsory retirement, all the judges of the courts of Puerto Rico
who are holding office on the date this Constitution takes effect shall
continue to hold their judicial offices until the expiration of the terms
for which they were appointed, and in the case of Justices of the Supreme
Court during good behavior.
Section 4. The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico shall be the successor of
the People of Puerto Rico for all purposes, including without limitation
the collection and payments of debts and liabilities in accordance with
Section 5. When this Constitution goes into effect, the term "citizen
of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico" shall replace the term "citizen
of Puerto Rico" as previously used.
Section 6. Political parties shall continue to enjoy all rights recognized
by the election law, provided that on the effective date of this Constitution
they fulfill the minimum requirements for the registration of new parties
contained in said law. Five years after this Constitution shall have taken
effect the Legislative Assembly may change these requirements, but any
law increasing them shall not go into effect until after the general election
next following its enactment.
Section 7. The Legislative Assembly may enact the laws necessary to
supplement and make effective these transitory provisions in order to assure
the functioning of the government until the officers provided for by this
Constitution are elected or appointed and qualify, and until this Constitution
takes effect in all respects.
Section 8. If the legislative Assembly creates a Department of Commerce,
the Department of Agriculture and Commerce shall thereafter be called the
Department of Agriculture.
Section 9. The first election under the provisions of this Constitution
shall be held on the date provided by law, but not later than six months
after the effective date of this Constitution. The second general election
under this Constitution shall be held in the month of November 1956 on
a day provided by law.
Section 10. This Constitution shall take effect when the Governor so
proclaims, but not later than sixty days after its ratification by the
Congress of the United States.
Done in convention, at San Juan, Puerto Rico,
on the sixth day of February, in the year of
Our Lord one thousand nine hundred and fifty-two.