BRASILIA – Brazilian President Michel Temer on Monday proposed that the current minister of justice and public safety fill the Supreme Court vacancy created by the Jan. 19 plane crash that resulted in the death of Judge Teori Zavascki.
Though he has an extensive legal background, Alexandre de Moraes is seen as a political partisan and right-wing ideologue, far from the “technocratic” profile that Temer said he would be seeking in a nominee.
The nomination requires confirmation by the Senate, where a score of members have been implicated in a massive corruption scandal centered on state-controlled oil company Petrobras.
Zavascki had been in charge of overseeing aspects of the Petrobras investigation that pertained to the Supreme Court, which has exclusive jurisdiction over prosecutions of sitting lawmakers and senior officials.
Last week, the high court assigned those duties to Judge Luiz Edson Fachin.
De Moraes, 49, is a former law professor whose published books include a text on constitutional law that has sold more than 500,000 copies.
On Monday, critics of his nomination to the Supreme Court were quick to cite another book by De Moraes expressing disapproval of presidents’ naming Cabinet ministers or other top aides to seats on the nation’s highest tribunal.
De Moraes represented a number of controversial clients in his private law practice, including a shipping firm suspected of ties to organized crime and disgraced politician Eduardo Cunha, the chairman of Temer’s PMDB party.
Cunha was ousted as speaker of the lower house of Congress and eventually expelled from the legislature after being indicted for corruption.
Before losing the speakership, Cunha initiated the impeachment of elected President Dilma Rousseff for alleged budget irregularities, a process that culminated last August in her removal from office, paving the way for erstwhile Vice President Temer to become head of state.