Senate rejects Bolsonaro request to impeach Supreme Court justice

Senate rejects impeachment request against Supreme Court justice
Senate President Rodrigo Pacheco: “no legal grounds for impeaching a Supreme Court justice.” Photo: Pedro Gontijo/SF/CC-BY 4.0

Senate President Rodrigo Pacheco rejected President Jair Bolsonaro’s request to impeach Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes, submitted on Friday.

The president accused Justice Moraes — who is overseeing numerous cases which could directly affect the government — of “eroding the pillars of the democratic rule of law” and “curtailing freedom of speech.” 

On Friday, Mr. Pacheco claimed there were no legal grounds substantiating the request. Sources say he initially planned to ignore the plea entirely, but members of the Supreme Court put pressure on him to take a stand as Mr. Bolsonaro steps up his attacks on the country’s highest legal body.

Still, the Senate President remained as non-committal as possible. “I forwarded the request to the Senate’s legal advisory committee, which found no legal grounds for proceedings to be opened,” he declared, in a press conference. “I follow their advice because I agree with the terms they lay down.”

Mr. Pacheco said he hopes his decision will serve as an opportunity to “establish peace among the branches of government.” There is little indication that will happen, however. Pro-Bolsonaro militants plan a massive demonstration on September 7 to request the removal of Supreme Court justices and the return of paper ballots — a proposal defended by Mr. Bolsonaro. 

Power brokers in Brasília fear the protests will turn violent, especially since off-duty military police officers have pledged to take part.