Donate to RNS

Brazil’s senate OKs evangelical Bolsonaro ally to top court

Mendonça had been waiting for approval since July 13, but disagreements between Bolsonaro's administration and a key senator stalled the proceedings for months.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro exits a convention center in Brasilia, Brazil, Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021, after attending a ceremony where he officially joined the centrist Liberal Party. (AP Photo/Raul Spinasse)

BRASILIA, Brazil (AP) — Brazil’s senate approved an evangelical former justice minister nominated by President Jair Bolsonaro to fill a vacant position on the supreme court, in what is seen as a nod to the conservative religious movement that helped bring him to power.

André Mendonça, 48, is Bolsonaro’s second pick to the 11-justice high court, the first being moderate Catholic Kássio Nunes. The latter’s approval by the Senate in October of last year sparked criticism from the president’s evangelical base.

Brazil’s president, who is Catholic, had earlier pledged to select a “terribly evangelical” candidate for the supreme court.

Mendonça has been waiting for approval since July 13, but disagreements between Bolsonaro’s administration and a key senator stalled the proceedings for months. On Wednesday, senators approved his appointment 47 votes to 32. The Bolsonaro ally will be able to sit on Brazil’s top court until age 75.

Earlier Wednesday, a Senate panel heard Mendonça for more than nine hours.

“Though I am genuinely evangelical, I understand there is no space for public religious demonstrations during the sittings of the Supreme Court,” he told senators. “The constitution is and must be the foundation to any decision by a supreme court justice. As to myself, I say: in my life, the Bible, and at the supreme court, the constitution.”

Mendonça was Brazil’s justice minister between April 2020 and March of this year, when he became attorney-general for the second time.