The interference of the Federal Supreme Court (STF) in agendas that should be the responsibility of the Legislative Branch is rendering ineffective what was considered, at the end of 2022, the most right-wing Congress ever elected in the history of Brazil.
The tendency towards judicial activism by the Supreme Court has relativized the importance of the position of right-wing parliamentarians on issues such as abortion, drugs, time frame and mandatory union dues. The views of representatives elected by the people have succumbed, on important issues, to what the STF ministers think.
The decision on Tuesday (12) by Minister Rosa Weber, president of the Supreme Court, to release ADPF 442 for trial is yet another demonstration that the Judiciary is not afraid to confront Congress on controversial issues. The action deals with the decriminalization of abortion, one of the issues most discussed in the campaign by deputies and senators elected with right-wing votes.
The Court’s actions are causing irritation among opposition parliamentarians, who frequently point out the invasion of the Judiciary’s competence in the Legislature. “Who is going to stop the Supreme Court’s ideological rage?” recently asked Senator Eduardo Girão (Novo-CE), one of the most vocal critics of the STF’s actions when the magistrates resumed the trial on the decriminalization of drugs.
The parliamentarian recalled that Congress has already deliberated on the matter on recent occasions. “This matter needs to be taken off the agenda, as it is the responsibility of the National Congress, which has already voted on the matter twice in less than 13 years! May common sense prevail in our nation!”, he stated on social media. For him, “the arbitrariness of the STF” could lead Brazil to “an unprecedented social tragedy”.
Opposition senators have praised the president of the Senate, Rodrigo Pacheco (PSD-MG), for his firm stance against the STF’s attack on the marijuana issue. At the end of August, after Pacheco published a text in the newspaper Folha de S.Paulo defending Congress’s prerogatives on the matter, parliamentarians such as Magno Malta (PL-ES) and Damares Alves (Republicanos-DF) publicly expressed their appreciation for the position.
With the drug decriminalization trial interrupted for up to 90 days after Minister André Mendonça’s request for a review, the opposition is rushing to approve a Constitutional Amendment Proposal (PEC) with the aim of resuming Congress’s prerogative on the matter. The document is being prepared by senator Marcos Rogério (PL-RO).
STF tries to take responsibility for the time frame, which is a topic in Congress
The STF is also bringing up the issue of the time frame for the demarcation of indigenous lands, precisely at a time when it is being processed in Congress.
The victory of the position against the landmark is almost certain, after four ministers voted in favor. Of the five remaining votes, it is enough for two to follow the same understanding, and it is likely that there will be no further differences beyond the two already expressed by ministers Nunes Marques and André Mendonça.
If the STF decides beforehand that the time frame is unconstitutional and the Senate defines a law establishing the frame, the impasse between the two would be resolved by the Supreme Court itself, which would need to decide whether the law created in Congress supersedes the Court’s previous decision or whether it must be invalidated. As a report from the People’s Gazettethe government is trying to delay the processing of the PL in the Senate precisely so that the Supreme Court’s decision comes out sooner and complicates the scenario for the approval of a law.
At the end of August, the text of the project was approved by the Agriculture and Agrarian Reform Commission (CRA) and went to the Constitution and Justice Commission (CCJ) of the Senate; at the same time, the president of the STF, Rosa Weber, scheduled the resumption of the trial on the issue in court.
Last week, Senator Magno Malta (PL-ES) made a statement criticizing judicial activism related to the time frame. “Agro is an animal that carries Brazil on its back. Twenty-five percent of this country’s trade balance comes from agribusiness, but agro is fascist… An ideological country, a siege that they are laying on us, and we senators need to let us realize this, because we are the House to put a brake on all of this”, he stated, in reference to activism.
STF helps government dodge opposition in case of union tax
At the end of August, the opposition in Congress announced its intention to prevent the Lula government’s plans to resume union taxes. The STF resolved what could have been a thorn in the government’s side by forming a majority to validate the tax return.
“We were again, in a way, attacked, vilified in our prerogatives, in our constitutional powers in the National Congress”, criticized Girão. “The Supreme Court forms a majority in the judgment on the contribution of 1% of the salary of all workers, in the case of union contributions. This decision, which is in line with the will of the federal government, which proposes the collection of union contributions, is very far from the will of Brazilian workers and the population”, he added.
Girão recalled that, in 2017, in the votes on labor reform, Congress had buried the union tax. For him, the STF’s likely decision to resume this tax “is yet another usurpation” of parliamentarians’ prerogatives.
“I hope that the Senate, just as it proposed to do on the issue of decriminalizing drug possession – because the interest of this group, in fact, is marijuana; it always has been –, can also react against this tax shoved down workers’ throats “, he said.