Brazil: Final Supreme Court ruling on Senate head's ouster expected today

Last night, the presiding officers of the Senate defied a justice's

Published in 07/12/2016 - 10:49 By André Richter reports from Agência Brasil - Brasília

Carmen Lúcia, the Chief Justice at Brazil's Supreme Court, has slated for this Wednesday (Dec. 7) the session to pass a final judgment on a ruling by Justice Marco Aurélio Mello to remove Senator Renan Calheiros from the Senate presidency.

The suspension was ordered in the early Monday evening (5), but the presiding officers of the Senate defied the ruling and Calheiros refused to step down. The senators decided to wait for a final ruling from the full bench of the Supreme Court.


In an appeal filed with the court on Tuesday, Renan Calheiros' counsel said the grounds for his suspensions were “grossly unreasonable”, and that he could not be removed by a preliminary injunction.

In ordering the Senate president's suspension, Justice Marco Aurélio Mello granted a request from the Sustainability Network (REDE) party after the Supreme Court indicted the senator on embezzlement charges last week.

This was not the first time REDE turned to the Supreme Court. Last month, it petitioned the court to rule that anyone being prosecuted would be ineligible to be in line of presidential succession. (When then-vice president Michel Temer took over the reins, the president of the Senate became the second in line of succession, next to the Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies.) Six of the 11 justices upheld REDE's motion—a sufficient number to settle the case, but Justice Dias Toffoli asked for more time to examine it, putting the trial on hold.

This prompted REDE to seek an injunction to ensure that Renan Calheiros was removed from the Senate chairship, so he would no longer be in the line of succession. The party argued the matter was urgent because the Supreme Court was to adjourn for the year-end break on December 19, and Calheiros's term as Senate head would expire on February 1st, when the Court was to resume its activities. They wanted to ensure Calheiros, as a defendant in a court case, would not be in line of succession should anything happen in this period that required the president of the Senate to take over the presidency, even if the case was not settled.


In the early afternoon, Chief Justice Cármen Lúcia met with the Vice President of the Senate, Jorge Viana, and had telephone talks with some congressmen, including Senator Aécio Neves, president of the PSDB party. All of them urged her to solve the crisis between the Supreme Court and the Senate quickly. At an informal meeting with other justices, she said she was worried about the situation and urged calm not to make things worse.

Translated by Mayra Borges

Fonte: Brazil: Final Supreme Court ruling on Senate head's ouster expected today

Edition: Amanda Cieglinski / Olga Bardawil

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