STF majority decides that Central Bank autonomy law

The plenary of the Federal Supreme Court (STF) validated, by eight votes to two, the rule that granted autonomy to the Central Bank (Bacen). With that, the Complementary Law 179/2021, sanctioned by President Jair Bolsonaro (no party) and approved by the National Congress in February of this year, is in force.

The measure was challenged in court through the Direct Action of Unconstitutionality (ADI) 6696, filed under the acronyms PT and Psol. Both parties pointed out unconstitutionality caused by a defect in the formality of the text that gave rise to the law.

The captions claimed that the proposal, presented by senator Plínio Valério (PSDB-AM) in 2019 through the Complementary Law Project (PLP) 19/19, should have been filed by the Executive Branch, and not by an agent of the Legislative Branch, as it is a matter of exclusive competence of the President of the Republic.

By granting autonomy to the Central Bank, the PLP left the body outside the authority of the management elected by popular vote and defined that the president and the eight directors of the entity would have terms that do not coincide with the head of the Executive.

As a result, the measure removed the Executive from outlining issues relating to the country’s economic policy, which is why it was harshly criticized by opponents of the Bolsonaro government, specialists and civil segments of the progressive camp, as well as some parliamentarians from the liberal right.

The content of the action evaluated by the Supreme Court, however, did not address the content of the new legislation, but rather the technical issues that define the rite of evaluation of this type of measure.


The rapporteur of the case in the Court, Minister Ricardo Lewandowski, voted for the partial granting of the request made by the PT and by the Psol, arguing that there was an invasion of the competence of the President of the Republic when approving a PL involving a legal regime for public servants. This assessment led the magistrate to the understanding that the law would be formally unconstitutional.

Luís Roberto Barroso, on the other hand, opened a divergence arguing that the rite of the proposal followed the rules stipulated by the 1988 Constitution for the legislative process. The minister also understood that the law would be constitutional because, among other things, it does not deal with the extinction of ministries or the legal regime for public servants.

He voted to reject the request made by PT and Psol and was followed by ministers Dias Toffoli, Nunes Marques, Alexandre de Moraes, Edson Fachin, Carmen Lúcia, Gilmar Mendes and Luiz Fux.

Minister Rosa Weber followed Lewandowski’s position, stating that in the process of the PL “the vice of initiative” was “fully configured” because the measure would be the exclusive responsibility of the President of the Republic.

Edition: Anelize Moreira

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