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Presidential liability for high crimes and misdemeanors: a comparative study of legal determinants and obstacles for presidential impeachment and conviction in Brazil and in the USA

Grant number: 16/09937-3
Support Opportunities:Scholarships abroad - Research
Effective date (Start): December 05, 2016
Effective date (End): February 19, 2017
Field of knowledge:Applied Social Sciences - Law
Principal Investigator:Rafael Mafei Rabelo Queiroz
Grantee:Rafael Mafei Rabelo Queiroz
Host Investigator: Matthew Macleod Taylor
Host Institution: Faculdade de Direito (FD). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil
Research place: American University (AU), United States  


The intended research will investigate the so-called "institutional determinants" of impeachment in Brazil. It will focus on "legal determinants", i.e., the most relevant legal institutions in the impeachment process. Its approach will be historical and comparative: historical because the hypotheses investigated will be situated within the Brazilian legal culture on presidential political accountability; and comparative because it will take as benchmark the US functional equivalents on these topics. (The US were the notorious inspiration of current legal impeachment lineaments in Brazil.) The investigate intends to cover two distinct, though related, hypotheses which correspond to what appear to be, at first glance, relevant "legal determinants" of impeachment in Brazil. The first, historic, concerns the emergence of Law 1,079 / 1950, still in force. I will test the hypothesis that this statute was a reaction to the rejection of Amendment 4 to the Constitution of 1946, which intended to implement parliamentarism in Brazi). Law 1,079 / 1950 seems to have been designed as a control mechanism of the president's political quality - and not as criminal statue, as its name would suggest. The second hypothesis will test whether the authorization for charging a president with high crimes and misdemeanors, as well as the extent to which judicial review in the process is allowed, is appropriate in the light of the desired political stability of the system. The research will use as sources bibliographic materials and historical sources listed in the references, and give priority to dialogue with the host institution researchers to refine and test the consistency the hypothesis here presented.

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