Bolsonaro Seeks Impeachment of Justice as Court Tensions Soar
(Bloomberg) -- Tension between Jair Bolsonaro and Brazil’s top court has reached new highs after he asked the senate to impeach a justice who’s targeting him and his allies for alleged attacks against democracy.
Bolsonaro filed a petition with the senate late Friday requesting the removal of Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes, saying his acts “go beyond acceptable republican limits.”
Moraes has authorized several criminal probes of Bolsonaro, including into his efforts to undermine Brazil’s electronic voting system. The president denies any wrongdoing. Earlier Friday, the justice targeted several of the president’s more outspoken allies for allegedly inciting violent protests against the top court and congress ahead of Sept. 7 Independence Day celebrations.
While Bolsonaro’s attempt to impeach Moraes is unlikely to make progress, it underscores his growing animosity toward the top court and electoral authorities as his popularity sinks to record lows and opinion polls show former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva leading the race for next year’s election.
Senate head Rodrigo Pacheco, who’s responsible for accepting impeachment requests against top court justices, said that while Bolsonaro’s petition would be analyzed by the upper house, he doesn’t see technical, legal, nor political grounds for removing Moraes.
He added that the senate will resist efforts to polarize the country and that protecting democracy is Brazil’s most urgent challenge. The Supreme Court also backed Moraes, saying it has full confidence in his independence and impartiality.
But Moraes isn’t alone. Bolsonaro has also pledged to seek the impeachment of the Justice Luis Roberto Barroso, who heads the nation’s top electoral authority, but hasn’t done so yet.
As Bolsonaro ratches up his rhetoric, however, Moraes has not been idle. Earlier Friday, the justice ordered the federal police to raid the homes of popular singer Sergio Reis, congressman Otoni de Paula and eight others as part of a probe into their alleged attempt to stoke violent protests in Brasilia.
Moraes also issued restraining orders forbidding them from the vicinity of the top court and congress.
Reis is accused of seeking to intimidate or attack the head of electoral authority, who regularly clashes with Bolsonaro for his repeated claims of voter fraud. In an audio that circulated on social media earlier this month, he is heard calling on supporters to break into the top court and remove justices by force, if necessary. Reis didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Paula, who’s repeatedly attacked Moraes on social media, wrote on Twitter Friday that he’s not sought violence.
Tensions are brewing in the run-up to Independence Day amid talk that truckers, a key group of Bolsonaro allies, are planning to take to the streets of Brasilia in a show of support for the embattled president.
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