Political political judges: the Brazilian National Justice Council and the burning question of judicial freedom of political speech

In a 2017 landmark case, the Brazilian National Justice Council decided to take disciplinary action against four judges who had participated in a political demonstration in opposition to the impeachment of former President Dilma Rousseff. The decision was later invalidated by the Supreme Court, but the incident shed light on the burning question of judicial freedom of political speech. This paper examines the arguments brought up before the Council and the Court, with the purpose of drawing a comparison with the Interamerican Court of Human Rights’ ruling in the López Lone et al. versus Honduras case. Premised on the idea that the way the judiciary deals with politics and media visibility is a key factor for/against the development of the Brazilian and Latin American democratic rule of law, the article advances that judges ought to be free to express political views and defend political positions as long as the exercise of such freedom does not jeopardize the independence and the integrity of the special contribution the judicial apparatus has to offer to the practices of the state.