- Constitution of Brazil
Constitution of the Federative Republic of Brazil
The original copy of the Constitution
Ratified October 5, 1988 Authors 1988 Constituent Assembly Brazil
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The Constitution of the Federative Republic of Brazil (Portuguese: Constituição da República Federativa do Brasil) is the supreme law of Brazil. It is the foundation and source of the legal authority underlying the existence of Brazil and the federal government of Brazil. It provides the framework for the organization of the Brazilian government and for the relationship of the federal government to the states, to citizens, and to all people within Brazil.
The seventh and current Brazilian Constitution was promulgated on October 5, 1988 after a two-year process in which it was written from scratch by a Constituent Assembly elected in 1986.
The current Constitution of Brazil was drafted as a reaction to the period of military dictatorship, and sought to guarantee individual rights and restrict the state's ability to limit freedom, to punish offences and to regulate individual life. Among the new constitutional guarantees are the errand of injunction and the habeas data. It also anticipated the existence of a Consumers' Defence Code (enacted in 1990), of a Children's and Youth Code (1995) and of a new Civil Code (2002).
It was the first constitution to demand severe punishment for breaches of civil liberties and rights. Consequently, Brazil later approved a law making the propagation of prejudice against any minority or ethnic group an unbailable crime. This law provided legal remedy against those who spread hate speech or those who do not treat all citizens equally. This second aspect helped disabled people to have a reserved percentage of jobs in the public service and large companies, and Afro-Brazilians to seek reparation for racism in court.
Breaking with the authoritarian logic of the previous Constitution, it made unbailable crimes those of torture and of actions directed against the democratic state and the constitutional order, thus creating constitutional devices to block coups d'état of any kind.
The Constitution also established many forms of direct popular participation besides regular voting, such as plebiscite, referendum and the possibility of ordinary citizens proposing new laws. Examples of these democratic mechanisms were the 1993 plebiscite concerning the form of government, where the presidential system was confirmed, and the 2005 referendum concerning the prohibition of the sale of firearms and ammunition.
The mention of God in the preamble of the Constitution (and later on the Brazilian currency) was opposed by most leftists as incompatible with freedom of religion because it does not recognise the rights of polytheists (like the Amerindians) or atheists. The Supreme Federal Court has ruled that that this omission of the protection of God was not unconstitutional since the preamble of the constitution is simply an indication of principles that serves as an introduction to the constitutional text and reflects the ideological conceptions of the legislator, falling within the scope of political ideology and not of the Law.
The preamble to the Federal Constitution is a brief introductory statement that sets out the guiding purpose and principles of the document. The text reads:
“ We, the representatives of the Brazilian People, assembled in the National Constituent Assembly to institute a Democratic State for the purpose of ensuring the exercise of social and individual rights, liberty, security, well being, development, equality and justice as supreme values of a fraternal, pluralist and unprejudiced society, based on social harmony and committed, in the internal and international spheres, to the peaceful solution of disputes, promulgate, under the protection of God, this Constitution of the Federative Republic of Brazil. ”
- (Portuguese) Constituição da República Federativa do Brasil (full actual text)
- (English) Constitution of the Federative Republic of Brazil (text until the 52nd Amendment)
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