Justice Marco Aurélio Mello took office as President of the Superior Electoral Court (TSE) in a formal ceremony held in the plenary of the Court on 19 November in Brasília. This is Justice Mello's third tenure as President of the Court, which is unprecedented for the TSE. His first two tenures were from June 1996 to June 1997 and from May 2006 to May 2008, during which he coordinated the 1996 municipal elections and the 2006 presidential elections (respectively). At the same session, Justice Dias Toffoli was sworn in as Vice President of the TSE.
Justice Mello was elected for President of the TSE in administrative session held on 8 October this year. He took office as Justice of the Court on May 13, 2010, during his first biennial term, at which time he already held the position of Deputy Justice. Justice Marco Aurelio is currently in the second biennium of its tenure as Justice of the TSE.
After the official singing of the Brazilian National Anthem by opera singer Denise Tavares, Justice Marco Aurelio read the "regimental commitment", signed the official term of entry into office and made his speech already as President of the TSE. In his speech, Justice Mello urged the voters of the country to go to the polls in the 2014 general elections and to "express, through their vote, what they want for the future of the nation”.
The panel for the solemn ceremony included the Vice President of the Republic, Michel Temer (representing President Dilma Rousseff), Senate President Renan Calheiros, President of the Chamber of Deputies Henrique Eduardo Alves, Vice-President of the Federal Supreme Court (STF) Ricardo Lewandowski, Deputy Electoral Attorney General Eugênio Arangão and all Justices of the TSE. The swearing-in ceremony for Justice Marco Aurélio Mello was headed by Justice Cármen Lúcia, whom he succeeds as President.
The ceremony was attended by current and retired Justices of the Supreme Federal Court (STF), former Presidents of the Republic and current Senators José Sarney and Fernando Collor, former Vice-President of the Republic Marco Maciel, Justices and former Justices of Brazilian Supreme Courts, state and Federal District Governors, members of the General Attorney's Office and of Brazil's State Attorney's Offices, Ministers of State, Justices of the Superior Court of Audit (TCU), representatives from the Federal Public Defender's Office, members of parliament, members of the diplomatic corps, and civil and ecclesiastical authorities.
The formal session ended with the presentation of the piece "Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5", written by composer Villa Lobos and played by soprano singer Denise Tavares and pianist Eliza Silveira. Justice Marco Aurelio received compliments from guests and authorities in the foyer near the Plenary of the Court.
In his first tenure, Justice Mello was in charge of the first computerized elections in the country, held in October 1996. At the time, 57 municipalities - comprising all capitals and cities with more than 200,000 voters - used electronic voting machines.
In 2006 he was in charge of the presidential elections, the results of which had the fast aggregation time for any presidential election until then. Voting ended at 5 PM, and 90% of the votes nationwide had already been polled by 9:45 PM on the same day. Within that tenure, Justice Marco Aurelio provided Brazil's Electoral access to state-of-the-art techniques and equipment to provide more transparency and security to Brazilian elections.
From 2006 to 2008, communication with society was a priority. Various publicity campaigns were aired at the time, such as those for voter registration, a voter awareness campaign for voters in Brazil and abroad, campaigns to encourage young citizens to vote and to promote the importance of poll workers.
The voter re-registration campaign, with collection of biometric data, also had its starting point during the second tenure of Justice Marco Aurélio as President of the TSE. The Electoral Justice projects that about 22 million voters will be identified through their fingerprints in the general elections next year.
Speaking on behalf of all Justices of the TSE, Laurita Vaz (Brazil's Electoral Corregidor-General and TSE Justice) commended Justices Marco Aurélio and Dias Toffoli for their inaugurations as President and Vice President of the Court (respectively), as well as Minister Cármen Lúcia for the brilliant work done as the first woman to hold the Presidency of the Court.
Justice Laurita Vaz recalled that the Court has the "incredibly relevant role" of ensuring Brazil has safe, honest and transparent elections to consolidate the democracy it has conquered.
“The fulfillment of such role requires serene, strong and balanced leadership and, above all, the close monitoring typical of election periods, all of which are inherent traits to Justice Marco Aurelio," said Vaz.
She added that Justice Marco Aurelio "is more than ideally suited for the hard work that awaits him”. The Electoral Corregidor-General then provided a brief history of his two previous tenures as President of the TSE. “Justice Marco Aurélio, an experienced magistrate, is used to coordinating elections and to taking on and overcoming challenges", she said.
“Justice Marco Aurélio was present at crucial moments in the course of the electoral process, leaving his indelible mark," said the Justice, who then extended her compliments to Mello's family for his inauguration as President of the TSE.
Justice Laurita Vaz also highlighted Justice Cármen Lúcia's tenure, marked by her strong presence, close monitoring of the Court's demands and strong fighting spirit. The Electoral Corregidor-General mentioned a number of accomplishments achieved in Cármen Lúcia's tenure, including increased societal awareness on the importance of voting, the advancement of the biometric re-registration process and the swift implementation of the Electronic Process of Law (PJe).
Justice Laurita Vaz also commended Justice Dias Toffoli for his inauguration as Vice President of the Court, wishing him a fruitful tenure. She recalled that the Justice will be responsible, in the capacity of President of the TSE as of mid-May next year, to manage the presidential elections of 2014.
General Attorney's Office
On behalf of the General Attorney's Office, Deputy Electoral Attorney General Eugêncio Aragão commended Justice Marco Aurélio Mello for his inauguration as President of the TSE. The Deputy Attorney General said Justice Marco Aurélio is an experienced magistrate, one who is "commendably bold in the role of judging".
“He does not lack firmness, but also displays serenity and sensitivity in the cases submitted for his decision," said the Deputy Electoral Attorney General. He further stated that "no surprises are expected in the new tenure," since it is the third time Justice Marco Aurélio holds the office of President of the TSE and due to his being a magistrate of great competence.
Brazilian Bar Association
The president of the Brazilian Bar Association (OAB), Marcus Vinícius Coelho Furtado, welcomed Justice Marco Aurélio as one held in high regard among legal practitioners. “Brazilian legal practitioners applaud Justice Mello's stance to find in the Constitution the concreteness of his actions", he said.
Marcus Vinicius also praised the new Vice President of the TSE, Justice Dias Toffoli, as one highly knowledgeable on electoral matters, and former TSE President Cármen Lúcia, who "has completed a tenure full of achievements" and "stood out for her commitment to a just and fraternal country”.
The president of the Brazilian Bar Association also mentioned that democracy is the raw material of Electoral Justice. He said that while people may have the right to deviate, for which they are held liable, "institutions must be preserved as a core beacon for a country's legal, political and social stability”. He also called for a political reform "that can fulfill the constitutional promise of free elections”.
Justice Marco Aurélio has been a Justice of Brazil's Federal Supreme Court (STF) since June 1990, and was Chief Justice of the same Court between 2001 and 2003. He has a Bachelor of Law by the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, awarded in 1973, and a Master’s Degree in Private Law awarded by the same institution. Throughout his professional career, Mello has also undertaken a number of additional courses on a number of areas.
Born in Rio de Janeiro on July 12, 1946, Justice Marco Aurélio has been a member of the Labor General Attorney's Office, a Judge of the Regional Labor Court (TRT) of the 1st Region and a Justice of Superior Court of Labor (TST), positions he has held between 1981 and June 1990.
Composition of the TSE
The TSE is composed of at least seven Justices, as provided for in Brazil's Federal Constitution. The Justices are chosen by election, as follows: Three Justices are chosen between the Justices of the Federal Supreme Court (STF) and two between the Justices of the Superior Court of Justice (STJ).
The composition is completed with the participation of two attorneys, selected and appointed by the President of the Republic from a short list (of three names) offered by the STF.
Justices are elected for a two-year period, and may be re-conducted to office for a new consecutive biennium once.