Ellen Gracie Northfleet

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Her Excellency
Ellen Gracie Northfleet
Chief Justice of the Supreme Federal Court
In office
March 30, 2006 – April 24, 2008
Preceded by Nelson Jobim
Succeeded by Gilmar Mendes
Supreme Federal Court Justice
In office
December 14, 2000 [1] – August 8, 2011
Nominated by Fernando Henrique Cardoso
Preceded by Octavio Gallotti [1]
Succeeded by Rosa Weber [2]
Personal details
Born (1948-02-16) February 16, 1948 (age 69)
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Alma mater Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul

Ellen Gracie Northfleet (Portuguese pronunciation: [ˈɛlẽj ˈɡɾejsi nɔʁtʃˈfɫiːtʃ], born February 16, 1948) is a Brazilian judge. She is the first woman to be appointed to the Supreme Court of Brazil[3] and the Court's first female president.

On August 8, 2011 she retired from the Court, 7 years before the full extension a mandate that would go until 70 years old.[4]

There was no formal announcement of her decision to retire and no formal ceremony at her departure.[5][6][7]

After her departure the Brazilian Association of Federal Judges published a public statement requesting that a representative of the Federal Magistrature be appointed for her position. Ellen Gracie was not a career magistrate since she did not write the exams to become a Federal Judge, as is the case for members of the Federal Magistrature. She was nominated for the position by then Brazilian president Fernando Henrique Cardoso.[8]


She earned her LL.B from the Faculty of Law of the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul in 1970, and later pursued a graduate degree in Social Anthropology at the same university. Northfleet was also a Fulbright Scholar and assisted in the development of the United States Law Library of Congress Global legal information network project.

Her public career began in 1971, clerking for the Rio Grande do Sul State General Counsel. On November 7, 1973, she joined the Ministério Público Federal, where she remained in the capacity of Federal Prosecutor until 1989, when she first joined the Judiciary, becoming a judge in the Regional Federal Court of the 4th Region, an appeal Court.

Northfleet was appointed to the Supreme Federal Court on November 23, 2000, by then president of Brazil Fernando Henrique Cardoso. She was the first woman to be named to the court. On March 15, 2006, after her appointment by the president, she was confirmed to head this court by a vote of its justices.[9] She replaced Nelson Jobim, who retired on March 30, 2006, presumably to run for office. She was 58 years of age at the time she was appointed by Fernando Henrique Cardoso.

In May 2006, she came very close to becoming the first acting female president, when Luis Inacio Lula da Silva was travelling abroad. According to Brazilian law, when the President is away from the country the next in succession becomes interim president. However, since elections were drawing near, anyone who occupied the post would be disqualified from running for office, so the vice-president, Jose Alencar, and the speaker of the house, Aldo Rebelo, the next in succession and who were considering running, also left Brazil. This would have made her the interim president for at least 10 hours. However, President of the Senate Renan Calheiros, who was not up for re-election and preceded her in the order of succession, stayed behind.

World Justice Project[edit]

Northfleet is on the Board of Directors the World Justice Project. The World Justice Project works to lead a global, multidisciplinary effort to strengthen the Rule of Law for the development of communities of opportunity and equity. She is also a member of the Inter-American Dialogue.[10]


  1. ^ a b STF website. (in Portuguese) Retrieved November 12, 2012.
  2. ^ O Estado de S. Paulo, November 8, 2011, p. A7 (in Portuguese)
  3. ^ International Association of Women Judges newsletter, Winter 2001
  4. ^ "Aposentadoria de Ellen Gracie é publicada no Diário Oficial" (in Portuguese). Folha-por Felipe Seligman. 8 August 2011. Retrieved 8 August 2011. 
  5. ^ http://www.jusbrasil.com.br/noticias/2797439/aposentadoria-da-ministra-do-stf-ellen-gracie-e-publicada-no-diario-oficial Aposentadoria da ministra do STF Ellen Gracie é publicada no Diário Oficial - JusBrasil - 8 August 2011
  6. ^ http://noticias.terra.com.br/brasil/noticias/0,,OI5285480-EI306,00-Dilma+oficializa+aposentadoria+de+ministra+Ellen+Gracie+do+STF.html - Dilma oficializa aposentadoria de ministra Ellen Gracie do STF - Terra Noticias- 8 August 2011
  7. ^ http://www.correiobraziliense.com.br/app/noticia/politica/2011/08/08/interna_politica,264573/publicado-decreto-de-aposentadoria-da-ministra-ellen-gracie.shtml - Publicado decreto de aposentadoria da ministra Ellen Gracie - Correio Braziliense - Agência Brasil Publicação: 08/08/2011
  8. ^ http://www.jusbrasil.com.br/noticias/2797439/aposentadoria-da-ministra-do-stf-ellen-gracie-e-publicada-no-diario-oficial - JusBrasil (Extraído de: Associação dos Magistrados do Rio Grande do Norte) - 8 de Agosto de 2011 - Acessado em 8 de Agosto de 2011
  9. ^ Harvard International Law Journal online
  10. ^ "Inter-American Dialogue | Ellen Gracie Northfleet". www.thedialogue.org. Retrieved 2017-04-12. 

External links[edit]

Judge, Tribunal Regional Federal da 4a Regiao, Porto Alegre, Brazil. (Information from the US Library of Congress.)

Legal offices
Preceded by
Octavio Gallotti
Judge of the Supreme Federal Court of Brazil
Succeeded by
Rosa Weber