In Brazil, an evangelical judge enters the Supreme Court

He wouldn’t have missed it for the world. Jair Bolsonaro was present, Thursday, December 16, to attend the investiture ceremony of André Mendonça, new judge of the Federal Supreme Court (STF). For the occasion, the President of Brazil complied with the obligation of a PCR test and agreed to wear a mask. A rarity for this covidosceptic, who stubbornly refuses to be vaccinated. And proof of the importance given to the event.

Mr. Bolsonaro did not fail to point out: the entry of this 48-year-old lawyer, former Advocate General of the Union, responsible for the defense of the legal interests of the State, is a sacred political victory. André Mendonça, not content with being a conservative and close to the president, is first and foremost a Presbyterian pastor. The far-right leader thus fulfills one of his campaign promises: to appoint a judge “Terribly evangelical” within the highest body of the Brazilian judiciary.

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The person was sworn in in front of his ten colleagues and about sixty senior state officials. “I hope to be useful to Brazilian justice and to the Federal Supreme Court and to be, during these years, a new servant and a minister who helps to consolidate democracy”, declared Mr. Mendonça to the press, after having taken the oath and donned the traditional black gown of the “wise men” of Brasilia.

Opposition from part of the Senate

The pastor will occupy the seat left vacant by Judge Marco Aurélio Mello, reached in July by the institution’s age limit (set at 75). It took a lot of effort to get there. Unlike the consensual judge Kassio Nunes Marques, appointed at the end of 2020, the candidacy of André Mendonça encountered fierce opposition from a large part of the Senate (responsible for approving the candidate proposed by the president). His hearing was blocked for months.

The vote finally took place on 1is December, Mr. Mendonça won by just 47 votes to 32, the worst score ever for such a nomination. The pastor, however, did not spare his efforts to charm the senators, going so far as to resort to hair implants and considerably moderate his speech. ” In life, [je suis] the Bible and the Supreme, the Constitution ”, he promised during his hearing, assuring that he would defend the secular state, the separation of powers and even the civil union for same-sex couples, authorized since 2013.

But his naturalness quickly caught up with him. Barely approved by the Senate, André Mendonça hurried through the Plaza of the Three Powers of Brasilia to greet Jair Bolsonaro, posing hilariously by his side in the presidential palace of Planalto. Too bad for the separation of powers. Too bad, too, for secularism. “My first reaction is to give glory to God (…) it is a small step for man, but a leap for evangelicals! “, rejoiced the pastor during his victory speech.

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In Brazil, an evangelical judge enters the Supreme Court