A JUDICIARY FOR AN AUTHORITARIAN REGIME: JUDICIAL REFORM IN THE 1930S

Maria Pia Guerra About the author

ABSTRACT

Authoritarian regimes often rely on the judiciary for the organization of power. This makes the judiciary not only an object of their control, but an integral part of their projects of state and social reorganization. This article analyzes three projects for reforming the judiciary in the 1930s to understand how judiciaries served in Brazil to consolidate authoritarianism. Oliveira Vianna proposed a broad transformation of both the separation of powers and the liberal legal hermeneutics. This resulted in a judiciary autonomous from local pressures, but ultimately submitted to the head of the executive branch. Themístocles Cavalcanti, a jurist and spokesman for bureaucratic demands, proposed technical efficiency in conflict management, political centralization and even depoliticization. This resulted in an autonomous judiciary in relation to local politics, still close to the liberal model. Castro Nunes, finally, a jurist and judge, proposed a transformation of the separation of powers and of legal hermeneutics, but, unlike Oliveira Vianna, only insofar as it led to a strong judiciary present in the political scenario. In this dispute, both jurists won in the short and medium terms, but a shadow of Oliveira Vianna remained for the Brazilian law and judiciary in the following years and regimes.

Keywords:
authoritarianism; jurists; judiciary; judicial reform; corporatism

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