UNIVERSITY AUTONOMY AS A CONSTITUTIONAL GUARANTEE AND AN INSTRUMENT OF DEMOCRATIC RESILIENCE

The paper is the result of a broader research on the role performed by universities in protecting democracy through the exercise and safeguarding of rights and freedoms, such as freedom of thought, freedom of expression and academic freedom. In Brazil, during the recent years of countless attacks against democracy and fundamental rights provided for in the 1988 Constitution, university autonomy played (and may still play) a central role in defending the democratic order and the mentioned rights. In support of this claim, we present three judicial review cases of the Brazilian Supreme Court (“Supremo Tribunal Federal”) in which the understanding of the constitutional dimension of university autonomy played a fundamental role. We conclude that universities are democratic watchdogs: “instituições de garantia”, in the sense defended by Ferrajoli.