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On The Antonin Scalia School of Tropical Jurisprudence

R7 reports on a jaw-dropping moment of political incorrectness,. The story runs above the fold  the front page of the Folha de S. Paulo and other dailies this morning, but the racial overtones are deemphasized.

I translate the gist.

An interview by Consultor Jurídico with former chief justice Cezar Peluso served as a pretext for Minister Joaquim Barbosa to say what he thinks of his colleague. Peluso had called Barbosa «insecure» and said he had a difficult temper. In the interview, Peluso acknowledged Barbosa’s qualities but lamented his posture. “The impression I have is that he fears being seen as arrogant. He is leery of being viewed as someone who joined the Court not on his own merits but because of his race.”

And here they say that Brazilians are not racists.

And by «they» I mean gabbling culture-industrial gnostics like Ali Kamel of Globo Infotainment Central.

Barbosa shot back during an interview with Carolina Brígido of O Globo on Friday. Barbosa said Peluso has left no legacy during his term as president of the court. “People will remember his as a conservative, imperious, tyrannical jurist who violated legal norms left and right when he wanted to impose his will. “

Barbosa is in line to serve a term as Chief Justice — the  justices rotate on a fixed schedule — in the fourth quarter 2012. This is hardly the first time he has quarreled openly with colleagues.

Barbosa accused then-Chief Justice Gilmar Mendes of undermining the reputation of the Brazilan Judiciary with injudicious remarks to the national news media concerning an open case.

I have noted this myself. One of the most convincing pieces of supporting evidence for the proposition that we are no longer in Kansas came on election eve of 2006, when the chief justice of the electoral tribunal, Marco Aurélio Mello, stepped outside and said, on an open national mike from the courthouse steps, that a breaking campaign finance scandal was “a latter-day Watergate that should lead to the impeachment of the president.”

)Larry Rohter of the New York Times, in a farewell interview with the Estado de S. Paulo, repeated the meme.) The case was promptly thrown out

Justice Mello — first cousin of the impeached president Collor de Mello, who seated him on the bench — knew he would be called on to rule in the case, and admitted, to a reporter gutsy enough to raise the issue, that he had not yet had access to any of the facts of the case.

He said was merely exercising his freedom of expression as a private citizen. What is with these people? Did they all graduate from the Antonin Scalia School of Constitutional Jurisprudence? The question is not an idle one.

Mendes is in the news again as a public figure on the margins of the “Charley Waterfall” case — a black-market gambling racket with police, lawmakers, journalists, and members of the judiciary on its payroll.

Waterfall’s counterintelligence man, known as Dadá, supposedly had a hand in manufacturing a scandal involving Mendes and the key figure in the current case, Senator Torres.

The accusation was used in an attempt to leverage political pressure to disqualify evidence in the case of Daniel Dantas, the controversial venture capitalist who received two writs of habeas corpús from Mendes.

As it turns out, Dadá was still working with ABIN, the Brazilian CIA, on the Dantes case.

It all gets confusing fast. The federal police agent on the Dantas case — Dantas was eventually found guilty of bribery  — is now a Communist member of the lower house and a proponent of the special commission on the Waterfall case.

Among the many side scandals in the case, a placard calling for the deposition of Editora Abril publisher Roberto Civitá by the congressional commission was torn down from outside the federal deputy’s  office.

«The spies are out of control!»

An enthusiastic cheerleader of the Federal Police when it suited — «The Untouchables», naturally — Veja magazine contributed to a moral panic over a generalized federal Big Brother when it came to the Dantas case.

The point to take away, I suppose, is that the Brazilian FBI found zero evidence of any wiretaps on the justice’s phone or offices.

For a while there the national scandal sheets were filled with conjecture on state of the art «war driving» — eavesdropping on open-to-air mobile comm devices. The «rhetoric of the technological sublime» was used to promote the notion that nothing was technically impossible in this brave new world, that hath such hand-helds in it.

Political Silly Season

Barbosa may finally present the case of the “big monthly allowance” — «mensalão» — to the general session of the court this year as well.

Political pressure may account for some of the flack he is receiving.

Barbosa abandoned his post as presiding justice of the TSE — the federal elections tribunal — in 2010 due to major back pain. According to his Wikipedia entry,

In the most controversial case since his appointment to the court, Barbosa voted in favor of nullifying the candidacies of politicians found guilty by the court of first instance, but the majority declined to do so.