Brazil Senate votes to limit decisions by Supreme Court justices
- Brazil's Senate has passed a constitutional amendment that limits the ability of Supreme Court justices to rule on issues individually.
- The amendment states that laws or measures decided by Congress can only be overruled by the full plenary of the top court or a chamber of justices, rather than just one justice.
- The legislation is part of a conservative-led backlash against a judiciary that has played a role in containing attacks on Brazil's democratic voting system.
- The move comes after the court rejected a restriction on Indigenous land claims sought by Brazil's powerful farm lobby, sparking further tensions between the legislature and judiciary.
Brazil's Senate took the lead on Wednesday to curb what lawmakers see as judicial overreach by the country's Supreme Court and passed a constitutional amendment that limits the ability of justices to rule on issues individually.
The bill, that still needs lower chamber approval, stipulates that laws or measures decided by Brazil's Congress can only be overruled by the full plenary of the top court or a chamber of justices and not by just one of them.
The amendment also sets deadlines for deciding cases when judges ask for more time to study the issues and requires that such requests be collectively and not individually made.
The bill passed by a wide margin of 52-18 votes in two rounds of voting required for constitutional amendments.
The legislation is part of a backlash by a conservative-led Congress against a judiciary that played a decisive role in containing attacks on Brazil's democratic voting system by former far-right President Jair Bolsonaro.
Lawmakers have accused the Supreme Court of usurping the legislative function of Congress with rulings on social issues such as the court's decision to facilitate gay marriage.
The last straw for Congress was the court's rejection of a restriction on Indigenous land claims sought for years by Brazil's powerful farm lobby which has led the charge against the judiciary.
New battles are looming over moves by the court to decriminalize abortion and marijuana possession.
Proposals in Congress include limiting the years justices can sit on the Supreme Court and an amendment that would allow lawmakers to undo court decisions they view as unconstitutional.
Senator Oriovisto Guimaraes, author of the bill approved on Wednesday, said it was unacceptable that one justice could rule on issues of importance for the nation.
Chief Justice Roberto Barroso criticized the movement in Congress against the judiciary.
"Attacking the Supreme Court, changing the way ministers are appointed, shortening their tenure in office, interfering with their internal functioning are political options that are not good for democracy," he told local media.