In a letter to Lula, female federal deputies from many parties ask him for a Black woman at Brazil’s Supreme Court

With the vacant seat left by Minister Rosa Weber at the Supreme Court (STF, in Portuguese) on Friday (29), political and social players intensified the campaign to convince President Lula (Workers’ Party) to appoint a Black woman to the Court. A letter released this weekend and signed by 25 federal deputies pressured the president to consider it. It was supported by parliamentarians from the Workers’ Party, Socialism and Freedom Party (PSOL), the Brazilian Socialist Party (PSB) and the Communist Party of Brazil (PCdoB). In the letter, the politicians argue that appointing a Black woman will be crucial to build a democratic context in the Brazilian judicial power, where there are few Black people. “The demand for a Black minister is essential to advance the necessary transformation of the Brazilian Justice System, not only because of the importance of seeing Black people being represented, but also because of all the possible structural changes in the way the law will be interpreted and applied, and justice done,” states the group. Data published by the National Council of Justice (CNJ) in 2021 showed that, at that moment, only 12.8% of magistrates in Brazil were Black, considering the numbers available. Several courts do not collect racial information about staff. The percentage is lower than that found by the 2013 Judiciary Census when the number recorded was 18.1%. When only considering magistrates who started their career between 2016 and 2018, it was 20% of Black people. Between 2019 and 2020, the percentage rose significantly to 21%. There are also problems with female representation. In a survey carried out in 2019 on female participation in the judiciary, the CNJ found that it has increased over time – from 24.6% in 1988 to 38.8% in 2018 – but remains low. In a section that only considers the higher courts (a group that includes the Supreme Court), the percentage rises to 48%. Despite this, the Supreme Court situation is considered far from ideal regarding gender equality, as now, with Rosa Weber’s retirement, the Court only has one female minister, Cármen Lúcia, in a list with 11 names. Throughout 132 years of history, Brazil’s Supreme Court had over 170 ministers, but just three were Black, besides the fact that they were all male. They were Pedro Augusto Lessa (1907-1921), Hermenegildo de Barros (1919-1937) and Joaquim Barbosa (2003-2014). Thus, if Lula appoints a Black woman to take Weber’s seat, she will be the first female Black minister on the country’s Supreme Court. “Constitutional institutions have a central role in combating sexism and racism. Therefore, the demand for a Black minister on the Supreme Court fulfills an important symbolic function. But, above all, it marks Brazilian society’s commitment to the broad promotion of gender equality and racial issues so that we can move forward at a greater pace towards a national reality aligned with an anti-racist and anti-sexism democratic consciousness that can guarantee us a fair and supportive future,” read the letter sent to Lula. The president had not yet informed who he intends to appoint to the Court. According to the media, the most popular names for the position are the current Minister of Justice, Flavio Dino, Attorney General Jorge Messias, and the President of the General Accounting Office (TCU), Bruno Dantas. Know the political parties that signed the letter: PT (Workers’ Party): PT is a Brazilian political party founded in 1980. Representing the progressive platform, this party has historically focused on social policies, inclusion and equality. That was the party that led Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva to Brazil’s presidency twice. PCdoB (Communist Party of Brazil): it is a party with a Marxist-Leninist orientation founded in 1922. Although its name indicates a communist ideology, the party has evolved over time and is currently part of a coalition of left-wing parties. It has been fighting for social reforms and equality since its beginning. PSB (Brazilian Socialist Party): it is a socialist and social-democratic party founded in 1947. PSB stands out for defending progressive social, economic and environmental policies and human rights. It is one of the center-left parties on the Brazilian political scene. PSOL (Socialism and Freedom Party): PSOL is a left-wing party born in 2004 after a dissidence emerged from the PT. The party adopts a progressive stance, promoting social justice, human rights and equality. PSOL also has a strong emphasis on transparency and political participation. Solidariedade (Solidarity Party): it is a Brazilian political party founded in 2013. With an approach centered on values such as democracy, social justice and economic development, the party seeks to promote a platform focused on defending labor rights, social inclusion and the fight against corruption. Read below the names of the federal deputies who signed the letter to Lula:  Benedita da Silva (PT/RJ)   Ana Paula Lima (PT/SC) Ana Pimentel (PT/MG) Camila Jara (PT/MS) Carol Dartora (PT/PR) Célia Xakriabá (PSOL/MG) Dandara Tonantzin (PT/MG) Daiana Santos (PCdoB/RS) Delegada Adriana Accorsi (PT/GO) Denise Pessoa (PT/RS)  Dilvanda Faro (PT/PA) Duda Salabert (PDT/MG) Erika Hilton (PSOL/SP) Erika Kokay (PT/DF) Ivoneide Caetano (PT/BA) Jack Rocha (PT/ES) Juliana Cardoso (PT/SP) Lídice da Mata (PSB/BA) Luiza Erundina (PSOL/SP) Maria Arraes (SD/PE) Natália Bonavides (PT/RN) Profª Luciene Cavalcante (PSOL/SP) Reginete Bispo (PT/RS) Sâmia Bomfim (PSOL/SP) Talíria Petrone (PSOL/RJ) Edited by: Nadini Lopes e Douglas Matos