Brazil: Judge Alexandre de Moraes, a right-wing man who has become Lula’s indispensable ally

Alexandre de Moraes, judge of the Federal Supreme Court, the highest instance of the judiciary in Brazil, promised on Tuesday to punish all those responsible for the attack on places of power in Brasilia on January 8. For years, he has been waging a showdown with Jair Bolsonaro and his allies. Portrait.

The shiny skull, the severe gaze and an austere gesture earning him the nickname “Robocop”, Alexandre de Moraes promised, Tuesday, January 10, to “firmly fight terrorism, these putschists who want to establish an exceptional regime”, two days after the assault on the main places of Brazilian power.

Judge of the Federal Supreme Court, the highest judicial body in Brazil, Alexandre de Moraes oversees the investigation into the unrest perpetrated on Sunday in the capital Brasilia by thousands of supporters of Jair Bolsonaro. Since 2019, he has embodied the institutional opposition to the far-right former president.

From professorship to the Ministry of Justice

Married and father of three children, Alexandre de Moraes, 54, is a “pure product of the elite of São Paulo”, describes the Brazilian daily O Estado de S. Paulo. It was at the University of São Paulo, one of the best in Latin America, that he received his law degree in 1990, before teaching the discipline in the same establishment.

A year later, in 1991, he won first place in the public prosecutor’s office in the State of São Paulo and became a public prosecutor at the age of 23.

In 2002, he was appointed Secretary of Public Security for the State of São Paulo and then led a relentless repression of student demonstrations. A “hard line” which earned him many criticisms from the left.

In January 2015, he was at the center of controversy when the daily O Estado de S. Paulo published an investigation claiming that he had intervened to defend the Transcooper cooperative, suspected of belonging to one of the largest criminal organizations in the world. country, the CCP (Primeiro Comando da Capital), which he denies. Alexandre de Moraes wins lawsuits against people who accuse him of being the CCP’s lawyer.

Conservative and affiliated with the Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB) in power from 1994 to 2002, he was appointed Minister of Justice in 2016 in the government following the dismissal of Dilma Rousseff. A “casting error”, criticizes the magazine Epoca.

A highly controversial appointment

In February 2017, his appointment to the Federal Supreme Court by President Michel Temer caused controversy. Alexandre de Moraes, judged by the Brazilian intelligentsia to be too right-wing and too partisan, has no experience as a judge. He replaces Teori Zavascki, who died in a plane crash a few weeks earlier, judge who was in charge of the political aspect of the “Lava Jato” (“express washing”) affair, the biggest corruption scandal in the history of the country.

This appointment is a surprise in the country and considered by many as a violation of the constitutional principle of separation of powers. Another element causes controversy: several of the senators who confirm the appointment of Alexandre de Moraes are former fellow ministers, including Romero Jucá and the head of the Upper House, Renan Calheiros – both indicted in the Lava Jato case.

The day after his appointment, the Brazilian media are also reporting on a case that dates back to 2004. The former professor is suspected of having justified the use of torture in front of his law students at the University of São Paulo. The information is strongly denied by those around him.

At the Federal Supreme Court, the judge proves to be a charismatic figure, playing the tactician and showing himself open to dialogue with political figures of all stripes and senior army officers. He is in charge of a thorny file under the Bolsonaro presidency: a vast investigation into networks disseminating mass false information.

In 2019, the Supreme Court extends its powers, allowing Alexandre de Moraes to act as investigator, prosecutor and judge in certain cases. While the US Supreme Court rules on 100 to 150 cases a year, the Supreme Court’s 11 justices and their assistants have rendered 505,000 decisions over the past five years, according to the New York Times.

Black Beast by Jair Bolsonaro

From 2019, Alexandre de Moraes sets himself up as a fervent institutional opponent of Jair Bolsonaro, who became president on 1er January.

The climax of the showdown between the two men takes place in August 2021, when the magistrate orders an investigation for “disinformation” against the president, after his attacks on the validity of electronic voting, used in Brazil since 1996.

A few days later, on September 7, on the occasion of the national holiday, Jair Bolsonaro takes aim at the magistrate in a fiery speech: “I will no longer respect the slightest decision of Alexandre de Moraes. My patience has limits” , he assures in front of thousands of demonstrators gathered in São Paulo. He also asks his supporters to encircle the Federal Supreme Court – an attempt at an auto-putsch.

The “decisions” mentioned by Jair Bolsonaro relate in particular to the arrest of Bolsonarist activists who openly threaten democratic institutions on social networks.

To the chagrin of Jair Bolsonaro, Alexandre de Moraes obtains even more power by taking the head of the Superior Electoral Tribunal (TSE) in August 2022, a key position a few weeks before the October presidential election. In charge of organizing the ballot, the TSE also has the possibility of sanctioning candidates who commit irregularities.

Heroes of the left, enemy number one of the right

Followed by nearly a million people on Twitter, Alexandre de Moraes has made his account a space to express his position on the burning issues of Brazilian life. As in November, when he spoke about the result of the presidential election: “The people expressed themselves freely and democracy won!!!”, writes Alexandre de Moraes, for whom Brazil deserves “peace ” and “serenity”. Before tackling former President Jair Bolsonaro: “Anti-democratic extremists deserve the application of the criminal law and it will be.”

If he was convicted of corruption by the Supreme Court and imprisoned in 2018 and 2019, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva found a major ally in the person of the magistrate, who became the most effective brake on Jair Bolsonaro’s power.

During the inauguration of President Lula on 1er January, Alexandre de Moraes was embraced and applauded by many guests present at the Planalto Palace and at the reception at Itamaraty – the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs – reports the weekly Veja.

From now on, Alexandre de Moraes holds in his hands the judicial future of Jair Bolsonaro, deprived of his presidential immunity. Suspicions of abuse of power over the Federal Police in order to protect his sons, dissemination of false electoral information… Four investigations targeting the former Brazilian president are being carried out by the judge of the Supreme Court.

>> To read also: “Corruption, false information, Covid … The judicial pans of Jair Bolsonaro”

After the attack on the main places of Brazilian power, the judge issued, Tuesday, January 10, an arrest warrant against Anderson Torres, former Minister of Justice of Jair Bolsonaro, for alleged collusion with the rioters as secretary to the Capital security. On Monday, he had already ordered the dismantling of camps set up by Bolsonarists across the country in front of army barracks to demand a military coup, ordering the imprisonment of all those who refused to leave.

Dismissed on Sunday in the wake of the incidents, Anderson Torres is currently on American soil, like Jair Bolsonaro, who left Brazil two days before Lula’s inauguration. The showdown between Alexandre de Moraes and Jair Bolsonaro is far from over.


  • December 13, 1968: born in Campos do Jordão (State of São Paulo).
  • 1990: law degree from the University of São Paulo (USP).
  • 1991: Associate Professor at USP Law School.
  • 1991: Alexandre de Moraes comes in first place in the competition for admission to the Public Ministry of the State of São Paulo and becomes a prosecutor.
  • 2002: having left the Public Ministry, he was appointed Secretary of Justice and Citizenship of the State of São Paulo.
  • 2005: he is appointed member of the National Council of Justice (CNJ) by the President of the Republic, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.
  • 2007-2010: Municipal Secretary for Transport of São Paulo.
  • 2010: he founded a law firm specializing in public law.
  • 2014: Secretary of Public Security of the State of São Paulo.
  • 2016-2017: Brazilian Minister of Justice and Public Security.
  • 2017: appointment to the Federal Supreme Court.
  • 2022: he becomes president of the Superior Electoral Tribunal (TSE).

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