SIZE Diminuir tamanho da fonte Aumentar tamanho da fonte
About the Court Print


Current Structure of the Brazilian Federal Supreme Court

next page>>

The Brazilian Federal Supreme Court (STF) is composed by eleven Justices, chosen among native Brazilian citizens, who are more than thirty-five and less than sixty-five years old and have notable legal knowledge and soundness of character (article 12, § 3, IV, and article 101, both from the Federal Constitution).

Furthermore, citizens who are related in blood or in affinity to any current Justice of the Court, in ascending, descending or collateral line, until third degree, must not be appointed Justice of the Supreme Federal Court. (article 18 of the Internal Regiment of the Supreme Federal Court).

The process of nominating someone for the lifelong office of Justice of the Supreme Federal Court (article 95 from the Constitution combined with article 16 of the Internal Regiment of the Supreme Federal Court), described in article 101 from the Constitution, begins with the President of the Republic proposing the nominee, in accordance with all the constitutional requirements. The nominee is then submitted to a public hearing before the Senate Citizenship, Constitution and Justice Committee and needs to be approved afterwards by the absolute majority of the members of the Senate. Once approved, he can be designated Justice by the President of the Republic and take office in a solemm session.Once in Office, the Justice will only forfeit the position by resignation, compulsory retirement (at seventy years old) or impeachment. The Federal Cons­titution, by the article 52, II, assigned to the Federal Senate the competence to sue and sentence the Justices of the Supreme Federal Court, in crimes of malversation. The same article, in its sole paragraph, establishes that the condemnation of the denounced Justice depends on the approval of at least two thirds of the Senate members, being the respective utmost penalty the loss of his position and his prohibition on taking on a public office for eight years, notwithstanding other legal sanctions.

Plenary Composition of the Supreme Federal Court

After several shifts in the quantity of its members, nowadays, the Supreme Federal Court is constituted by eleven Justices, who act in its Chambers as well as in its Plenary. It is woth noticing that three of its members are also part of the Superior Electoral Court, serving two of them as the Chief Justice and the Deputy Chief Justice of that Court.

Functioning of the Supreme Court

The Supreme Federal Court, highest judicial body in Brazil, with seat in the Federal Capital, Brasília/Distrito Federal, has jurisdiction over the entire national territory. The Judicial Power is also composed by the following bodies: National Council of Justice; Superior Court of Justice; Federal Regional Courts and Federal Judges; Labor Court; Regional Labor Courts and Judges; Electoral Court; Regional Electoral Courts and Judges; Military Court; Military Courts and Judges; Courts and Judges of the States, the Federal District and the Territories.  

Judiciary System organogram

The Constitution of 1988, article 102, states that the competence of the Supreme Federal Court is primarily to safeguard the Constitution. Among the constitutional competences of the Supreme Federal Court, a few can be pointed out: to judge the Direct Action for the Declaration of Unconstitutionality; Action for the Declaration of Constitutionality, Action Against a Violation of a Constitutional Fundamental Right and Extradition requested by foreign State. It is also in the Supreme Federal Court where are judged common criminal offenses against the President of the Republic, the Vice-President, the members of the National Congress, the Supreme Court´s Justices and the Attorney-General of Republic.

Article 102, I, “f”, of the Constitution, grants the Supreme Federal Court the original competence to judge “the disputes and conflicts between the Union and the States, the Union and the Federal District, or between one another, including their respective indirect administration bodies”. However, it is important to note that, according to the jurisprudence established by the Supreme Court itself, the applicability of constitutional norm from article 102, I, “f”, is restricted, only, to the litigations capable of risking the federative balance or the harmony that must prevail among the entities of the Federation.

Furthermore, in relation to the impeachment process of the President of the Republic, it is the competence of the Supreme Federal Court´s Chief Justice to preside over the trial session at the Federal Senate (Constitution, article 52, sole paragraph).

As it is known, the republican form of government subjects all the civil servants to the precept of responsability, which is inherent in the concept of democracy. All those who hold power of some sort are, therefore, responsible before the law – mainly the President of the Republic, for being the representative of the Nation and the Chief of the Executive Power.The Federal Constitution, recognizing this republican postulate, defined the essential criteria to the configuration of the political-administrative responsability of the President of the Republic (Federal Constitution, article 85) and foresaw impeachment process, which is an effective way of investigating responsability and improving democracy.

The impeachment process has several peculiarities. Because it is a political process, it will only be established with authorization of the Chamber of Deputies (Federal Constitution, article 52, I) and, only then, the Federal Senate will be able to effect the legal proceeding (Federal Constitution, article 52, I). It is important to observe that, when exercising such prerogative, the Federal Senate will act as a court, under the Presidency of the Supreme Federal Court’s Chief Justice (Federal Constitution, article 52, sole paragraph), with the competence to effect the legal proceeding and trial of the President of the Republic for crime of malversation.

Nowadays the majority of the sentences in the Court are decided on extraordinary appeal and bill of review in decisions that examine the constitutio­nality of sentences emanated from other bodies of the judicial power and from public acts in general. The Supreme Federal Court, the highest judicial body, has performed an essential role in guaranteeing fundamental rights and safeguarding the Constitution, pronouncing decisions that, due to its remarkable repercussion, influence the activities of the powers of the Republic as well as the life of all people and citizens in our country.

next page>>

Contact us
Praça dos Três Poderes - Brasília - DF - Brazil - Zip Code 70175-900 Phone: 55.61.3217.3000