A menace in robes: judicial populism, democratic constitutionalism in jeopardy

The appeal to the people’s feelings or the “public opinion”, disregarding constitutional principles and rules, is something frequent in American – and now even in European – politics. The dissatisfaction with the political representation and the distrust and disillusionment with liberal democracy are triggering the rise of political populism. In Brazil, the populist discourse reached another branch: in the name of morality, judges of the Federal Supreme Court of Brazil ignore constitutional explicit rules and, allegedly, decide “fairly”. Using a language of exception, the Supreme Court dismantled constitutional parliamentary prerogatives: no freedom of speech, no freedom from arrest. Under a moralistic fury, judges are ignoring constitutional checks and balances and their distance from the democratic field. Using broadcast communication and social media, the members of Brazilian Federal Supreme Court are overtaking political leaders and presenting themselves as the Nation’s saviors.