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Lula names own justice minister to high court bench

President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil said Monday that he chose Justice Minister Flávio Dino to fill an empty seat on the country’s top court.

Many allies of the leftist leader hoped he would pick another woman to replace Minister Rosa Maria Weber, who stepped down in September after turning 75, the age limit for the nation’s Supreme Federal Court justices. Weber’s departure as chief justice left one remaining female jurist on the 11-person court.

The Brazilian Senate is expected to vote before the end of the year on Dino’s nomination, which requires a simple majority for confirmation.

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Dino, 55, governed the impoverished state of Maranhão between 2015 and 2023 before becoming Lula’s justice minister. He is a former federal judge and was seen for many years as one of the most vocal adversaries of former President Jair Bolsonaro.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Dino imposed curfews and movement restrictions that angered the far-right leader.

As justice minister, he has also been one of the most visible members of Lula’s Cabinet. Dino worked to increase security at schools and crack down on the incitement of violence as officials sought to curb a wave of fatal school attacks.

He also led efforts to jail Bolsonaro supporters who trashed government buildings in Brasilia on Jan. 8.

Legal analysts saw Lula’s nomination of Dino as further evidence of the Supreme Court’s political polarization. Bolsonaro and and former President Michel Temer also picked their justice ministers to sit on the court.

Dino said in his social medial channels that he was “immensely honored” by the president’s decision.

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“From now on, I will dialogue to seek the honorable support of fellow senators. I am grateful for the prayers and the demonstrations of care and solidarity,” he said.

Lula said he also has appointed a new prosecutor-general, Paulo Gustavo Gonet. The 62-year-old is currently a deputy electoral prosecutor-general.

Lula, who in previous terms picked the top candidate from a “triple list” made by federal prosecutors to be his prosecutor-general, disregarded their recommendation this time.

Gonet is regarded among his peers as a conservative. He has written articles against abortion and urged the government to act against it. His appointment also requires Senate confirmation.

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