Brazil’s government clashes with the Supreme Court

. Mar 14, 2018
Brazil's government Supreme Court Brazil's government is at odds with the Supreme Court. Photo: ABr
Brazil's government Supreme Court

Brazil’s government is at odds with the Supreme Court. Photo: ABr

Brazil’s government has reacted to Supreme Court Justice Luís Roberto Barroso’s ruling that those convicted for corruption shouldn’t benefit from furlough programs. Carlos Marun, the president’s Secretary of Government, criticized Barroso, even arguing for his impeachment from the Supreme Court bench.

A member of the cabinet espousing such a view might raise a few eyebrows on its own, but Marun’s case is worse. In Brasília, Marun is thought to vocalize what President Michel Temer would prefer not to.

To make matters worse, Marun justified his words by saying that Justice Barroso broke the law when authorizing the Federal Police to scrutinize Temer’s phone records and bank statements (FYI: he didn’t). Marun even said that he could resign as a cabinet member to ask for Barroso’s impeachment as a member of Congress.

Institutional crises

This is not the first institutional crisis during Michel Temer’s government involving the Supreme Court. In December 2016, the Supreme Court suspended then-Senate President Renan Calheiros from office, due to the multiple corruption accusations against him. Calheiros and the Senate refused to accept the ruling – and the Justices chose to backpedal.

Immediately after the Supreme Court’s decision in his favor, Renan Calheiros decided to suspend the vote on a bill regarding abuses by members of the justice system. The bill was regarded by judges as a “gag order” because its vague text means that nearly anything can be considered abuse.

It is hard not to see a quid pro quo situation here.

Temer’s bank secrecy

Justice Barroso has ruled unfavorably to President Temer on multiple recent occasions. He lifted the politician’s bank secrecy, extending the investigation into Temer’s relationship with a port company. Barroso also authorized further scrutiny over two of the president’s most intimate allies.

Brazil’s Government leader to face trial

While Carlos Marun was making threats, the Supreme Court accepted corruption and money laundering charges against Romero Jucá, the government’s leader in the Senate, who is accused of taking a BRL 150,000 bribe. In exchange for the money, Jucá used to sponsor pieces of legislation that would benefit paying companies.

Few politicians know the ins and outs of corruption in Brazil like Jucá – who has been, for decades, one of the highest-profile politicians in the country. There used to be a running joke in Brasília: only two things are certain in life – death and the nomination of Senator Romero Jucá as leader of the government in the Senate, no matter who the president is.

During the Fernando Henrique Cardoso government, he was a member of the Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB) and leader of the government. When Lula took over, he became a member of the PMDB (now MDB) to remain at the post – for both Lula and Dilma Rousseff.

When Michel Temer took over as President, Jucá was named Minister of Planning and Budget. He lasted 11 days at the job, before being hit by a corruption scandal. He appeared in an audio recording defending a “pact” to stop the “bleeding” caused by the investigations of Operation Car Wash.

The pact apparently didn’t work – and Jucá will, at last, face trial.

The Brazilian Report

We are an in-depth content platform about Brazil, made by Brazilians and destined to foreign audiences.

Our content is protected by copyright. Want to republish The Brazilian Report? Email us at