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Mac Margolis

Jailing Lula Won't Fix Brazilian Justice

The country's top court has plenty of power -- and an impossible mandate.
Disorder in the court.

Disorder in the court.

Photographer: Victoria Silva/AFP/Getty Images

Compared with the famously glacial flow of Brazilian justice, its pace over the last few days has been remarkably swift. Less than 24 hours after former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva failed to convince the Supreme Court to let him fight his 12-year corruption conviction in liberty, federal court judge Sergio Moro ordered his arrest.

To the country’s fevered partisans, Lula’s legal denouement is -- pick your tribe -- a travesty of justice or a triumph of the republican precept that even national legends are not above the law. That quarrel will likely smolder and cast a pall over this year’s presidential elections, which polls have touted Lula to win.