Minister Gilmar Mendes voted against face-to-face celebrations; plenary examines whether mayors and governors have the autonomy to adopt restrictive measures in the most critical phase of the Covid-19 pandemic in Brazil
At the most critical moment of the coronavirus in Brazil, the plenary session of the Federal Supreme Court (STF) judges, on Wednesday, 7, whether mayors and governors have the autonomy to adopt measures that prevent the presence of the public at masses and services throughout the country. The plenary of the Court will have to give the final say on the matter due to the divergence between the decisions made by the ministers Gilmar Mendes e Nunes Marques in distinct actions that challenge municipal, state and Federal District decrees. Last Saturday, 3, Marques authorized religious temples to hold face-to-face celebrations, as long as sanitary protocols against the disease were adopted. On Monday, 5, however, Mendes dismissed a request filed by the Social Democratic Party (PSD) that disputes the decision of the government of the State of São Paulo that vetoes the performance of collective rituals in the most restrictive phase of the São Paulo Plan.
As Prime Time Zone showed, there is a majority in the plenary to maintain the autonomy of states and municipalities. In addition, according to the report, the preliminary decision by Nunes Marques, appointed by the president Jair Bolsonaro for the STF, he surprised his Court colleagues for a number of reasons: first, because in a trial earlier this year, the ministers unanimously decided that the National Association of Evangelical Jurists (Anajure) had no legitimacy, as an entity of class, to file a lawsuit contesting municipal and state decrees with restrictive measures against Covid-19 – this point is even included in the decision of Minister Gilmar Mendes. In addition, in April last year, the Supreme Court had already guaranteed autonomy to mayors and governors for the regulation of policies to combat the pandemic.
This Wednesday, 7, on an agenda in the city of Chapecó, in Santa Catarina, Bolsonaro stated, without mentioning any minister by name, that this afternoon’s trial may be suspended due to a request for a view, that is, more time for analysis, for us to discuss a little more the opening, or not, of religious temples ”. The session this Wednesday, 7, takes place one day after Brazil surpassed, for the first time, the mark of 4 thousand deaths registered in the last 24 hours. According to data from the National Council of State Health Secretaries (Conass), the country recorded 4,195 deaths in this period – since the beginning of the pandemic, there have been 336,947 fatal victims. On the same day, the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz) released an extraordinary bulletin in which it states that the crisis should continue at critical levels throughout the month of April.
In his support, the attorney general of the Union, André Mendonça, criticized the restrictive measures adopted by mayors and governors. “We know that the Supreme Federal Court has delegated to the States the power to establish restrictive measures, but to what extent was this delegation a blank check? Can the governor and the mayor take any action, without even going through the local legislature? Is there no control? Do not authoritarian measures be prevented? ”, He asked. Mendonça also stated that “a curfew measure is incompatible with the democratic rule of law. Curfew measure does not prevent disease, it is a measure of repression proper to authoritarian states ”.
The Attorney General of the Republic, Augusto Aras, in turn, affirmed that “science saves lives, faith too”. “It is necessary to remember the place of religion in a democratic state of law, and to bear in mind that the state is secular, but people are not. Science saves lives, faith too. Faith and reason that are on opposite sides in the fight against the pandemic in these records, go hand in hand, in defense of life and human dignity, understood in its multiple dimensions, encompassing physical, mental and spiritual health. There is no opposition between faith and reason. Where science does not explain, faith brings the justification that is inherent to it ”, he said.
First to vote, Minister Gilmar Mendes countered the oral support of the AGU holder, who cited agglomerations in public transport. “When His Excellency talks about the problems of transportation in Brazil, especially public transport, and he talks about the problem of air transportation, with the accumulation of people, I could have understood that His Excellency would have come to the Supreme Court of a trip to Mars, detached from any institutional responsibility, with any subject in Brazil. But Your Excellency, I went to check here, ‘googling’, as the younger ones say, and I noticed here that he was Minister of Justice until recently, with institutional responsibilities, including proposing measures. The Union is responsible for legislating on national transport policy guidelines. About traffic and transportation. It seems to me that there is a certain delusion in this general context. Each of us must take responsibility. This needs to be made very clear. Let us not try to deceive anyone. Especially because the fools were out of court, ”he said.
In his vote, Gilmar Mendes also cited examples of countries that imposed restrictions on cults, such as Denmark, Germany, France and the United Kingdom. “In the second half of last year, there was a worldwide movement of restrictions on freedom of worship,” he said. “Nobody is going to say that here are countries with an authoritarian vocation,” he added.