Luiz Fux assumed as chief justice of Brazil’s Supreme Court this week as the institution nears crucial rulings involving President Jair Bolsonaro’s supporters and his eldest son. A top court justice since 2011, Fux is known for his tough stance against crime and his support of Operation Carwash, an investigation that has ensnared dozens of powerful businessmen and politicians over the past six years.
As Chief Justice he will now lead the court through a number of cases that could pit it against the nation’s president, including a ruling on the future of Bolsonaro’s allies who are accused of spreading fake news, and a decision on which jurisdiction will oversee an investigation into Senator Flavio Bolsonaro.
Fux’s rise comes amid heightened political polarization and spats among different branches of power. President Bolsonaro has openly criticized members of the court on several occasions earlier this year, and some of his supporters have called for the institution to be shut down.
“The judiciary will not hesitate to make decisions to protect democracy and freedom of press,” Fux said during his swearing-in ceremony in Brasilia. “I will spare no effort to strengthen the fight
against corruption that still happens under the shadows in our country.”
Debora Santos, a political analyst at XP Investimentos, said Fux has always supported the fight against corruption. “This will be a constant reason for clashes with the anti-Carwash group and perhaps with the Bolsonaro clan when his decisions affect probes involving family members.”
Flavio Bolsonaro, who is under investigation for corruption and money laundering when he was a Rio de Janeiro state lawmaker, has asked the Supreme Court to allow him to face proceedings at the nation’s highest jurisdictions. If the institution accepts his request, it would likely mean an appeals court would review his case and lead to a slower process overall.
A decision is expected within the next few months. Flavio Bolsonaro has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.
Meanwhile, Fux is considered a supporter of the economic reforms sponsored by the government, especially a proposed tax overhaul. Still, he has said that civil servants in the Judiciary should be left out of a plan to overhaul the public sector.
He also backed the so-called Clean Slate law, which prevents politicians who are convicted for crimes from running for office.