30 years of Constitution: legal experts discuss democracy, institutions and Brazilian reality
On October 4 and 5, FGV’s Rio de Janeiro Law School (Direito Rio) held the seminar “30 Years of the Constitution: Democracy, Institutions and Reality”. The event brought together the legal and academic community to critically discuss the current state of Brazilian constitutional law, debating the process of building democratic institutions and its current reality. The event was attended by Federal Supreme Court (STF) Justices Luis Roberto Barroso and Alexandre de Moraes, former Attorney General Rodrigo Janot, former Minister of Justice José Eduardo Cardozo and Federal Accounting Court (TCU) Judge Bruno Dantas, as well as legal experts, professors and foreign guests.
The Dean of Direito Rio, Sérgio Guerra, opened the event by placing the 1988 Constitution in Brazilian constitutional history and in the international context. Oscar Vilhena, professor and Dean of FGV’s Sao Paulo Law School (Direito SP), participated in a panel on “Control of Constitutionality and Supremocracy”. Vilhena, who coined the concept of Supremocracy, analyzed the super-exposure of the Federal Supreme Court, the result of a political construction that granted too much power to the institution and led to a political and fragmented action, undermining its legitimacy. The debate also included Diego Werneck Arguelhes, from Direito Rio, Rogério Arantes, from USP, journalist Felipe Recondo, from JOTA, and moderator Danielle Rached, from Direito Rio.
Attorney and former Minister of Justice José Eduardo Cardozo took part in the panel on “Democracy and Political System”, talking about the global crisis of the so-called Rule of Law, which was potentialized and radicalized in Brazil. Argelina Figueiredo, from IESP-UERJ, Michael Mohallem, professor and coordinator of Direito Rio’s Center for Justice and Society (CJUS), and José Luis Vargas Valdez, Minister of the Electoral Court of the Judiciary of the Federation of Mexico, who is in the country as a Foreign Electoral Observer, also participated in this panel, which was moderated by Roberto Maltchik (O Globo).
FormerAttorney General Rodrigo Janot was a guest on the panel about “Constitution and Penal Guarantees”. He reviewed the decision of the STF on imprisonment on appellate jurisdiction and turning state’s evidence as a means of obtaining evidence. The panel also included Flaviane Bolzan, from PUC-MG, and Thiago Bottino, from Direito Rio, and was moderated by Judge José Muiños Piñeiro (TJ-RJ).
Ending the first day of event, Ana Paula de Barcellos, from UERJ, Ivar Hartmann, from Direito Rio and Coordinator of Supreme in Numbers, and Fernando Leal, from Direito Rio, joined Humberto Ávila, from USP and UFRGS, for the panel on “Reality Constitutional Law”. Ávila talked about how the Judiciary inserts elements not foreseen by the Legislative branch and their legal, theoretical and constitutional consequences.
“Constituent and Democracy” was the opening theme for the second day of the event, with contributions from Mattias Kumm, from NYU and WZB Berlin, Federal Judge Jane Reis, from UERJ, Virgílio Afonso da Silva, from USP, and Thomaz Pereira, from Direito Rio and academic organizer of the event. The panel reviewed the permanent tension between democracy and constitution in the context of current challenges, such as authoritarianism, populism and generational transitions in the population.
Justice Barroso was a guest in the panel that discussed “Fundamental Rights and Reality”. He began by highlighting the moment of polarization that Brazil is currently experiencing. He then recalled some achievements of the Brazilian democratic period. For the future, Barroso said he believed in the need for political reform and to prioritize basic education in a non-partisan project. On that same panel, which was moderated by Mario Brockmann Machado (Direito Rio), Carlos Bernal Pulido, from Colombia’s Constitutional Court, questioned the existence of transformative constitutionalism in Latin America. Ligia Fabris, from Direito Rio, talked about gender inequality in Brazilian politics.
Justice Alexandre de Moraes then presented a positive view of the Constitution’s 30th anniversary in the panel on “Separation and Conflict of Powers”. According to him, this is the longest period of stability of the Rule of Law in Brazil, and it survived two impeachment procedures. In addition to Moraes, Joaquim Falcão, from Direito Rio, used his time to talk about what needs to be done so that the STF is more efficient and organized: administrative stability, decisional certainty and legal security. The debate also included Daniel Vargas, from Direito Rio, and moderator Natasha Salinas, also from Direito Rio.
Closing the event, Carlos Ari Sundfeld, from Direito SP, Armando Castellar, from FGV’s Brazilian Institute of Economics (IBRE), and Patrícia Sampaio, from Direito Rio, along with Federal Accounting Court Judge Bruno Dantas, participated in the panel “Economic Order and Regulation”. The Judge examined, among other things, the growth of the State separate from the GDP and the individualization of the Judiciary and control agencies.