Power

Accusations against Supreme Court justice may bolster anti-democratic rhetoric

A justice has been accused of taking bribes in exchange for altered sentences. Though lacking in detail, the accusations may prove explosive

"The Supreme Court is Brazil's cancer," says pro-Bolsonaro demonstrator. Photo: João Gabriel Alves/Enquadrar/Folhapress
“The Supreme Court is Brazil’s cancer,” says pro-Bolsonaro demonstrator. Photo: João Gabriel Alves/Enquadrar/Folhapress

As of Jair Bolsonaro’s election as president, the Supreme Court had begun to see itself as a sort of democratic guardrail to counter the head of state’s anti-democratic outbursts. This partly explains some of the court’s recent moves, such as ordering the Senate to kick off a hearings committee to investigate the government’s pandemic response or voting to force the administration into carrying out the decennial census, justified on the basis of respecting citizens’ “right to information.”

But the power the Supreme Court has is founded upon the legitimacy that political actors recognize in it — in...

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