On Election Day, he told the highway police in Brazil to stop holding up voter-filled buses.
He ordered them banned from social media when right-wing voices spread the false claim that Brazil’s election was rigged.
In addition, he directed the arrest of officials who had been in charge of securing the buildings when thousands of right-wing protesters stormed Brazil’s government buildings this month.
The role of leading advocate for democracy in Brazil has been assumed by Supreme Court justice Alexandre de Moraes. He has pushed to investigate, prosecute, and silence anyone he believes to be a threat to Brazil’s institutions using a broad interpretation of the court’s powers.
Consequently, Mr. de Moraes cleared the way for the transfer of power in the face of antidemocratic attacks from Jair Bolsonaro and his supporters, the former far-right president of Brazil. That made him the man who saved Brazil’s fledgling democracy, according to many on the left in Brazil.
However, he is threatening it to numerous others in Brazil.
Mr. de Moraes has become one of the most powerful people in the country thanks to his aggressive approach and growing authority. He is also at the center of a complicated debate in Brazil about how far to go to fight the far right.
He has gained even more courage in the pursuit of justice following the riot earlier this month. His directives to silence well-known voices online have grown in number, and he is now at odds with Mr. Bolsonaro, who is accused of fueling extremism in Brazil. Mr. de Moraes, who is in charge of a federal investigation into the riot, included Mr. Bolsonaro last week, suggesting that the former president was the driving force behind the violence.
His actions are part of a larger pattern in which Brazil Supreme Court is getting more power and becoming more repressive, according to critics.
Concerning Mr. de Moraes’s long-term impact, numerous political and legal analysts are currently arguing. Some argue that in the face of an extraordinary threat, his actions are extraordinary measures that are necessary. Others contend that while he is claiming to be protecting democracy, he is actually disrupting the balance of power in the country.
Irapu Santana, a lawyer and legal columnist for O Globo, one of Brazil’s largest newspapers, stated, “We cannot disrespect democracy in order to protect it.”
Understand the Riots in Brazil’s Capital On January 8, thousands of rioters demonstrating in support of Jair Bolsonaro, the country’s former far-right president, stormed the Congress, Supreme Court, and presidential offices.
Mr. Santana backed the leftist candidate for president in October, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, but he expressed concern that many Brazilians were cheering for Mr. de Moraes without considering the repercussions. He is doing it today against our adversary. He stated, “He’s doing it against our friend or against us tomorrow.” It sets a bad precedent.
Milly Lacombe, a left-wing commentator, said that these worries missed a bigger threat that the riots and a failed bomb plot to disrupt Mr. Lula’s inauguration demonstrated.
In her column for the Brazilian news site UOL, she argued that concerns about free speech and judicial overreach should take precedence over the far right’s grave threat to Brazil’s democracy.
“Is it worth temporarily suppressing individual freedoms in the name of collective freedom under the threat of a Nazi-fascist-inspired insurrection?” She penned, ” Yes, I would say.
The conflict has served as an illustration of a larger global debate regarding judicial authority as well as how to deal with online misinformation without silence.
what we take into account prior to using anonymous sources. Do the sources have access to the data? Why did they tell us about this? Are they trustworthy in the past?
Elon Musk, the owner of Twitter, commented that Mr. de Moraes’ actions were “extremely concerning.”
This week, Mr. de Moraes’s actions were the subject of a debate between a Brazilian sociologist and American journalist Glenn Greenwald, who has spent years living in Brazil and has become a critic of certain social media rules. Additionally, Brazilian officials have indicated that they may consider enacting new laws to regulate online speech.
Mr. de Moraes ordered the arrests of two district security officials shortly after the riot and suspended the governor of the district in charge of security for the violent protest.
However, a senior court official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations stated that there is little support in the Supreme Court for the arrest of Mr. Bolsonaro due to a lack of evidence and concerns that it would cause unrest.
According to the official, a number of justices on the Supreme Court would rather try to convict Mr. Bolsonaro of abusing his power through the country’s election agency, rendering him ineligible to run for office for eight years.
Since December 30, Mr. Bolsonaro has been in Florida. He has long tried to impeach Mr. de Moraes and has accused him of overstepping his authority. The lawyer for Mr. Bolsonaro said that the riots were not his fault and that he had always valued democracy.
Mr. de Moraes, 54, worked as a private attorney, a public prosecutor, and a professor of constitutional law for decades.
The left criticized his appointment to the Supreme Court in 2017 because of his affiliation with center-right parties.
In 2019, the chief justice of the Supreme Court issued a one-page order allowing the court to initiate its own investigations rather than waiting for the police. It was a significant expansion of authority for the court, which, in contrast to the U.S. Supreme Court, handles tens of thousands of cases annually, including certain criminal cases.
Mr. de Moraes was appointed by the chief justice to head the first inquiry: an examination of “fake news.” The first action taken by Mr. de Moraes was to direct a publication to retract an article that had connected the chief justice to an investigation into corruption. When the magazine provided evidence, he later revoked the order.)
Then, Mr. de Moraes turned his attention to online misinformation, mostly from Mr. Bolsonaro’s backers. As a result, he assumed a significant role in Brazilian politics, which was amplified this year when his rotation as Brazil’s election chief coincided with the election.
Mr. de Moraes rose to the position of chief guardian and attack dog for Brazil democracy.
He made a deal with the military to conduct additional tests on voting machines before the election. On Election Day, he directed the federal highway police to provide an explanation as to why they were stopping voter-loaded buses. As a demonstration of unity against any attempt to retain power, he also arranged for government leaders to jointly announce the winner on election night.
Mr. de Moraes stood in the middle of that group of leaders. “Xando,” which means “Big Alex” in Portuguese, were chanted in response to his forceful speech about democracy. He stated, “I hope the attacks on the electoral system will finally stop after the election.”
They failed to. Protesters from the right took to the streets in front of military bases to demand that the vote be overturned. A senior lawyer at a major tech company, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of offending Mr. de Moraes, claimed that in response, Mr. de Moraes instructed tech companies to ban additional accounts.
At least five members of Congress, a billionaire businessman, and more than a dozen prominent right-wing pundits, including one of Brazil’s most popular podcast hosts, had their accounts taken down by Mr. de Moraes.
The lawyer claimed that Mr. de Moraes rejected some orders that his tech company thought were too broad. According to this individual, appeals to the entire bench of judges have also been rejected or ignored.
On the record for this article, a number of social media platforms declined to comment. Mr. de Moraes poses a threat to their Brazilian business. After Telegram did not comply with his instructions last year, he temporarily banned it from the country.
According to the court official, there were recent discussions among some justices regarding the necessity of concluding Mr. de Moraes’s investigations; however, these discussions ceased following the riot on January 8. The official claims that peers’ support for Mr. de Moraes has grown as a result of the riot.
Beatriz Rey, a political scientist at the State University of Rio de Janeiro, stated that, despite not being ideal, Mr. de Moraes’s approach is necessary due to the fact that other government branches, particularly Congress, have evaded their responsibilities.
She stated, “You shouldn’t have one justice fighting threats to democracy repeatedly.” However, the issue is that the system itself is currently acting improperly.
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