The Mendes Court (2003-2013): Progressist, Pro-Freedom, and Socially Engaged, but a Political Moralist

This essay discusses the Mendes Court, i.e. the phase of the Federal Supreme Court of Brazil (STF) lasting from the judgement of the Ellwanger Case, in 2003, to the 26th appeal in the Mensalão Scandal Case, in 2013. As I submit, the Judicial Reform, inspired by the model of a European Continental Court like the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany, was relevant to explain why the STF changed its attitude towards lower courts and other state branches. However, the determinant factors were the STF’s shift in case law towards the wide-scope conception of fundamental rights, taken from German legal theory. Under the influence of Justice Mendes, the STF borrowed the proportionality test from Germany, engaged in enhancing the effectiveness of social rights, and adopted a progressist view on individual freedoms and a protective approach of criminal guaranties, but a moralist attitude towards electoral and political matters, which reflect in the Brazilian polity still nowadays.