It took just five days for the high court in Brazil to begin operating Jair Bolsonaro administrators last month banned the census, citing the Covid-19 epidemic and the budget.
Judge Marco Aurélio ordered the government to change its policy and conduct a study required by law, which was amended once a year. “It is up to the high court to determine the establishment of a mechanism for the investigation of the population,” he said.
For many, the decision – like many others taken by the high court during the coronavirus epidemic – was justified in favor of scientific and empirical evidence. It was also a reminder of how the supreme court became political in Brazil.
Since Bolsonaro – a former military supervisor – came to power over the past two years, a court known as the STF has acted as a defense against what some say is a more sophisticated leader.
For judges and those close to the court, this is permitted by the Brazilian Constitution and is approved by the president’s opinion and the idea of refusing to fight the epidemic. For the defendants, the judges are conducting “judicial” proceedings that provide court rulings.
Those in the middle see the evil, each side feeding on each other and weakening the already fragile Brazilian institutions.
“It is clear that the STFs have been involved in politics for some time [and] has grown too much. The biggest problem right now is we have a much lower senior than anyone else, who is not working at all, ”said Filipe Campante, a professor at Johns Hopkins University.
“If an adult is not able to do the necessary work, then some power is forced to intervene. But this only comes back to failure because he should not do it. It contributes to the conflict in which Bolsonaro lives.”
Campante says an example of this is census, which is “a major government project [that] The executive has confirmed that he is unable and unwilling to do so ”.
But a dispute between the 11-member Supreme Court and a major branch has been made clear by the Covid-19 epidemic, which has already claimed the lives of 430,000 Brazilians.
Last year, the STF made 9,000 decisions related to the epidemic, according to a court ruling. Many of these laws have contributed to major scientific approaches to the virus, including the use of contraceptives and vaccination interventions.
However, he angered Bolsonaro, who has been reducing the incidence of the disease and trying to reopen the region’s economy, which has been shut down by state governors. The crisis culminated last year when the next president joined a rally to close the court. From now on they have pressured their colleagues to comply with STF cases.
“In Brazil, we live in a very special time when there are many conflicts and this has been exacerbated by the epidemic. There is a clear division between people who are trying to reduce the incidence of the disease, including those close to the government, and those who need to be careful,” Judge Gilmar Mendes told Financial Times.
“The court has strongly criticized those who support these controversies. “We are taking away skills that should be strong, but we are confident that we have fulfilled our responsibilities in accordance with the law,” said Mendes, who has also been accused and criticized.
Judges of Brazil’s highest court are appointed by the president and serve until their retirement at the age of 75. On a bench of 11 members, seven were appointed by former Labor party officials. One was selected last year by Bolsonaro.
Much of the court’s power comes from the size and size of Brazil’s constitution, with more than 70,000 words and one of the longest laws in the world. The growth of the group allows STF to judge the validity of multiple issues.
“This puts STF at the center of Brazil’s political dialogue. If the president – who can rely on the support of the legislature – is violating the law, it is the court’s responsibility to set boundaries,” said Eloísa Machado, a law professor at the Getúlio Vargas Foundation.
Opponents, however, argue that the court’s interpretation of the legal case is similar to that of “lawsuits,” which give it power.
Uziel Santana, president of Anajure, an preaching The lawyers’ association said a STF ruling last month allowing government officials and city officials to ban worshipers who were in the midst of the plague was “technically wrong and illegal”.
“It is not necessary for the high court to establish a parliament, [but] more and more in recent years has been making laws. “Doing so could seriously undermine the power of the other party, and that’s not good in a democracy,” he said.
For Santana, one problem was the proliferation of so-called fair-minded elections, whereas justice could be done to the extent possible. Between 1988 and 2018, more than 72% of cases ended in arbitrary decisions, according to a study by the Getúlio Vargas Foundation.
Recently, Judge Edson Fachin alone overturned the verdict in favor of former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s rights, and restored political freedom of expression before next year. The decision was made by a full vote following a request from state prosecutors.
“The US Supreme Court is very political in some way, but Brazil is a very bad country because you have no parties, you have interests. Judges are political and make decisions based on politics, ”said Campante.
“You get to the point where anything he chooses is not legal. Do you think: ‘politics is causing this’?”
Additional reports of Carolina Pulice