Speaking Truth to Power: Legal Scholars as Survivors and Witnesses of the COVID-19 in Brazil

The Covid-19 health emergency has placed special demands on legal scholars, particularly on those based in the Global South. Brazil is one of the epicenters of the pandemic, with over 650,000 deaths as of March 2022. Our narrative emerges from the duality of our positions amidst a national tragedy—we are both survivors of the collective threat of a would-be autocrat and a Covid-19 denialist government and witnesses to how our pre-existing privileges put us in a position of readiness ‘to speak truth to power’. Speaking truth to power means not only to exercise an independent spirit of analysis and judgment of power, but also to interpellate power openly about its wrongdoings. We have positioned ourselves as advocates and litigators for those most affected by the pandemic, particularly vulnerable women. In this essay, we share one of our key initiatives during the pandemic—a constitutional lawsuit to demand the right of pregnant and postpartum people to access Covid-19 vaccines.