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Revista de Sociologia e Política

Print version ISSN 0104-4478On-line version ISSN 1678-9873


SANTOS, André Marenco dos  and  DA ROS, Luciano. Routes that lead to the Courts: careers and recruitment patterns for Brazilian Supreme Court justices (1829 -2006). Rev. Sociol. Polit. [online]. 2008, vol.16, n.30, pp.131-149. ISSN 0104-4478.

This article analyzes changes and continuities in recruitment patterns for high-level justices in the Brazilian court system between 1829 and 2006. For these purposes, we analyze data on: 1) social origin and 2) juridical, political and penal system careers for members of the Supreme Courts (Supremo Tribunal de Justiça from 1829-1890; Supremo Tribunal Federal, 1891-2006). We take a separate look at the social attributes of the individuals who have been recruited to these courts, identifying the characteristic traits of each generation of justices, emphasizing the importance of specific institutions of higher education for the prospects of a juridical career, states of origin and cases of geographical mobility within the different periods. We also look at the degree of differentiation in the juridical sphere in relation to spheres that are of a specifically political character, a question that is considered fundamental from the perspective of prospects for institutionalization. Our findings offer clues for comprehending the longitudinal changes that take place in career and recruitment standards for Brazilian supreme courts as well as the social, institutional and political requirements that pertain to the trajectories of this segment of the juridical field. Fundamentally, we have observed a gradual increase in individuals belonging to an exclusively juridical universe: people who have followed careers both in the juridical field and other arenas - whether political or linked to repressive State apparatuses - prevail throughout the periods under consideration. Decreased geographic circulation throughout the careers of future ministers, as well as the diversification of the institutions of higher education where their degrees are obtained (both phenomena particularly pronounced after the first Vargas period) further suggest - although rather paradoxically - the increased autonomy of the Court.

Keywords : juridical careers; recruitment patterns; Supremo Tribunal Federal; Supremo Tribunal de Justiça.

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