Autocratic Legalism and the New Challenges to Public Law in Brazil

Because of decades under authoritarian regimes, Latin American countries – such as Brazil – experienced longstanding periods of political instability and human rights violation. Dissolution of Parliaments, Court-packing and hegemonic Executive were part of this scenario. We assume that the pursuit of a limited government and protection of human rights, which are the very core of the constitutional democracy, shall not be understood separately from the system of checks and balances. For this matter, in the midst of a political crisis, the Brazilian case displays important challenges to Public Law due to the rise of a populist agenda recently. We claim that the new threats to democracy are related to an autocratic legalism, which means that political actors have been using legal devices in order to achieve illegal or unconstitutional aims. In this sense, it´s a more subtle, gradual and yet dangerous move that, in the end, might undermine constitutional values via democratic procedures.