Brazilian Bolsonaro chooses evangelical for Supreme Court seat

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) – President Jair Bolsonaro on Tuesday (July 13) appointed Attorney General Andre Mendonca, who is also an evangelical pastor, to fill a vacant seat on the Supreme Court of Brazil, the conservative president’s second appointment to the court of 11 members.

Mendonca, 48, whose appointment has yet to be confirmed by the Senate, replaces retired judge Marco Aurelio Mello. It has been 127 years since a candidate for Brazil’s highest court was rejected by the Senate.

With mandatory retirement at age 75, Mendonca will be able to occupy the seat for 27 years.

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Bolsonaro’s choice comes after publicly criticizing Judge Luis Roberto Barroso, who also chairs the country’s highest electoral body, and warning of fraud in Brazil’s 2022 elections, without providing any evidence to support this claim . Recent polls show Bolsonaro behind former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in voter preference, even among evangelicals.

In early 2019, Bolsonaro had promised to appoint an evangelical judge to the highest court, but his first selection was the little-known moderate Kássio Marques, frustrating the president’s conservative base.

Mendonca is a Presbyterian pastor from the capital of Brasilia. The Brazilian president has said he wants his candidate, if approved, to start Supreme Court sessions with a prayer.

Mendonca also served as Minister of Justice between April 2020 and March 2021 and was instrumental in reviving a dictatorship-era national security law that was used by police against detractors of the president. .

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