Hands Off The Judges, A Warning To Temer And Trump

Alexandre de Moraes in July 2016
Alexandre de Moraes in July 2016

It was always going to be a tricky nomination. Still, Brazilian President Michel Temer could hardly have made a more controversial choice for the vacant seat on the nation's Supreme Court. With anti-corruption investigation Lava Jato ("Car Wash") still very much at the center of national debate, giving the nod to his close ally and own justice minister Alexandre de Moraes was a brazen move.

Since the death of Judge Teori Zavascki in a plane crash last month, the Brazilian president had been facing calls to appoint someone politically independent. By blatantly ignoring those calls, Temer's choice would have a "strong impact" on the investigation's future, one of the lead Lava Jato prosecutors told Folha de S. Paulo.

Temer and Moraes in May 2016 — Photo: Beto Barata /PR

Moraes' appointment is, indeed, revealing of the current state of Brazilian politics. The far-reaching "Car Wash" operation, already responsible — albeit indirectly — for the impeachment of former President Dilma Rousseff, is threatening to engulf more senior politicians, including some in Temer's current government. And, yes, Temer himself faces serious questions, as reporter Vicente Nunes reports in Correio Braziliense.

Naming someone so close to him "at such a delicate time for the country" is a "provocation," according to Nunes. "The feeling we're all left with is that Moraes was chosen by Temer, himself named in the investigation, to protect his friends from the claws of justice."

The perilous tension between the judicial and executive branches in Brazil comes as another unprecedented dynamic is playing out some 4,000 miles to the north. Even while he was generally praised for his own choice for the U.S. Supreme Court, President Donald Trump has now used Twitter to attack a federal judge for a ruling against the Administration's Muslim travel ban. The skittish leaders of two of the world's largest democracies are reminding us that democracy is only as strong as the controls it places on individual power. That starts and ends with an independent judiciary.

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A Mother In Spain Denied Child Custody Because She Lives In Rural Area

A court in Spain usurps custody of the one-year-old boy living with his mother in the "deep" part of the Galicia region, forced to instead live with his father in the southern city of Marbella, which the judge says is "cosmopolitan" with good schools and medical care. Women's rights groups have taken up the mother's case.

A child in Galician countryside

Laure Gautherin

A Spanish court has ordered the withdrawal of a mother's custody of her one-year-old boy because she is living in the countryside in northwestern Spain, where the judge says the child won't have "opportunities for the proper development of his personality."

The case, reported Monday in La Voz de Galicia, has sparked outrage from a women's rights association but has also set off reactions from politicians of different stripes across the province of Galicia, defending the values of rural life.

Judge María Belén Ureña Carazo, of the family court of Marbella, a city on the southern coast of 141,000 people, has ordered the toddler to stay with father who lives in the city rather than with his mother because she was living in "deep Galicia" where the child would lack opportunities to "grow up in a happy environment."

Front page of La Voz de Galicia - October 25, 2021

Front page of La Voz de Galicia - Monday 25 October, 2021

La Voz de Galicia

Better in a "cosmopolitan" city?

The judge said Marbella, where the father lives, was a "cosmopolitan city" with "a good hospital" as well as "all kinds of schools" and thus provided a better environment for the child to thrive.

The mother has submitted a formal complaint to the General Council of the Judiciary that the family court magistrate had acted with "absolute contempt," her lawyer told La Voz de Galicia.

The mother quickly accumulated support from local politicians and civic organizations. The Clara Campoamor association described the judge's arguments as offensive, intolerable and typical of "an ignorant person who has not traveled much."

The Xunta de Galicia, the regional government, has addressed the case, saying that any place in Galicia meets the conditions to educate a minor. The Socialist party politician Pablo Arangüena tweeted that "it would not hurt part of the judiciary to spend a summer in Galicia."

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