A body set up under the constitution of the French Fifth Republic to ensure the regularity of elections and referenda and, in certain cases, to rule on the constitutionality of laws. There is no appeal from its decisions as the intention was to confine the legislature, formerly the repository of national sovereignty, within a new more limited role. Accordingly, the Conseil can rule on the constitutionality of parliamentary laws but executive actions are reserved for the Conseil d'État. Appointed for nine years and in equal proportions by the President of the Republic and the two parliamentary presidents, the Conseil Constitutionnel acted at first to uphold executive supremacy. After 1974 President Giscard d'Estaing provided for more generous access by deputies and senators to the Conseil. This right was increasingly exercised through the 1980s by the parliamentary opposition, while successive administrations, Socialist and Conservative, have complained of ‘government by judges’. In 1985 Conseil Constitutionnel ruled that the constitution was superior to parliamentary legislation. The government now finds itself subject to judicial constraints from an unexpected quarter, while parliament and opposition, much circumscribed by the constitution, have been quick to exploit their new privileges.
http://www.conseil-constitutionnel.fr/ Conseil Constitutionnel website (in French).