Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes will today be elected the presiding justice of the Superior Electoral Court. The election is a mere formality, as the heads of the electoral justice system are chosen based on a seniority criterion. Still, the transition comes as friction between President Jair Bolsonaro and the Justice system intensifies.
Just this weekend, Mr. Bolsonaro suggested that Justice Moraes is a “psychopath.”
The justice has become a sort of lightning rod for vitriol from the far-right. At the Supreme Court, he presides over a series of investigations which could hurt the president and his entourage. On Monday, he extended a probe against Mr. Bolsonaro for spreading misinformation on Covid vaccines.
Earlier this year, Justice Moraes said electoral courts would adopt a zero-tolerance stance on misinformation during the 2022 campaign. Last week, the Supreme Court confirmed a precedent establishing a red line for candidates on social media.
As we revealed in the latest Brazil Weekly newsletter, a group of senators who oppose President Jair Bolsonaro — and spearheaded last year’s Covid inquiry hearings — have engaged in meetings with seven of the Supreme Court’s 11 justices to teach them the ropes of the political world.
There is a growing fear in Brasília, which we flagged in March of last year, that Mr. Bolsonaro may try to use the military or state police forces to barricade himself in office if he loses the vote to former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.