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Latest Featured Reports | Monday, July 16, 2018
Trump Backs Putin, Attacks U.S. Intel Comm, FBI, Dems in Helsinki: 'BradCast' 7/16/18
Remarkable responses from media, Dems, Repubs and callers in our 'WTF?!' coverage...
Sunday SuperCallousFragileRacist-SexistNaziPotus Toons
Everything he says and does is really quite atrocious...
New 2016 Russian Cyber-attack Indictments; New suit Against SC's Unverifiable Vote System: 'BradCast' 7/13/18
Guests: GOPer Frank Heindel, attny Larry Schwartzol; Hand-marked ballot bill in Senate...
Trump's 'Fine-Tuned Machine' Wreaks Havoc at NATO, in Congress, for US Workers: 'BradCast' 7/12/18
Also: Listeners respond to Dem plan to block Kavanaugh at SCOTUS...
'Green News Report' 7/12/18
  w/ Brad & Desi
Environmentalists oppose Trump's SCOTUS pick; Admin coal bailout means more deaths; NC & NY harness poo power; PLUS: Shell Oil CEO wants faster transition to electric cars...
Previous GNRs: 7/10/18 - 7/3/18 - Archives...
Schumer's Tepid SCOTUS Plan, Trump's Trail of Destruction: 'BradCast' 7/11/18
Guest: Ryan Grim on Dem hopes of derailing Kavanaugh; Also: Admin trade wars, new attacks on O'Care...
Trump SCOTUS Pick Just a Loyal 'GOP Foot Soldier': 'BradCast' 7/10/18
Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern on Brett Kavanaugh, rights he will help overturn, his background as a Federalist Society-trained party apparatchik...
'Green News Report' 7/10/18
EPA's Pruitt finally out, replacement could be worse; Starbucks to end plastic straws; PLUS: Extreme temps shatter all-time heat records around the world...
We're Back!: Record Heat, Pruitt Gone, Things Get Worse: 'BradCast' 7/9/18
Also: Plastic straws, straw polls, final straws, actual good voting news, RIP Ed Schultz, listener calls...
Sunday (Again, Not So Funny) Toons
The toons collected this week by PDiddie are not particularly funny. They are, however, distressingly true...
Brad's Recent Appearance on Terrence McNally's 'Free Forum': 'BradCast' 7/3/18
Tables turned. Brad discusses his background, why he began blogging, concerns about our electoral system and how to make your vote count in 2018...
'Green News Report' 7/3/18
Pruitt's secret calendar; MN approves new pipeline; New global heat record; Drought-fueled riots in Iran; PLUS: RI sues fossil fuel companies for climate change...
BARCODED BALLOTS AND BALLOT MARKING DEVICES
BMDs pose a new threat to democracy in all 50 states...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

Criminal GOP Voter Registration Fraud Probe Expanding in VA
State investigators widening criminal probe of man arrested destroying registration forms, said now looking at violations of law by Nathan Sproul's RNC-hired firm...

DOJ PROBE SOUGHT AFTER VA ARREST
Arrest of RNC/Sproul man caught destroying registration forms brings official calls for wider criminal probe from compromised VA AG Cuccinelli and U.S. AG Holder...

Arrest in VA: GOP Voter Reg Scandal Widens
'RNC official' charged on 13 counts, for allegely trashing voter registration forms in a dumpster, worked for Romney consultant, 'fired' GOP operative Nathan Sproul...

ALL TOGETHER: ROVE, SPROUL, KOCHS, RNC
His Super-PAC, his voter registration (fraud) firm & their 'Americans for Prosperity' are all based out of same top RNC legal office in Virginia...

LATimes: RNC's 'Fired' Sproul Working for Repubs in 'as Many as 30 States'
So much for the RNC's 'zero tolerance' policy, as discredited Republican registration fraud operative still hiring for dozens of GOP 'Get Out The Vote' campaigns...

'Fired' Sproul Group 'Cloned', Still Working for Republicans in At Least 10 States
The other companies of Romney's GOP operative Nathan Sproul, at center of Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, still at it; Congressional Dems seek answers...

FINALLY: FOX ON GOP REG FRAUD SCANDAL
The belated and begrudging coverage by Fox' Eric Shawn includes two different video reports featuring an interview with The BRAD BLOG's Brad Friedman...

COLORADO FOLLOWS FLORIDA WITH GOP CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION
Repub Sec. of State Gessler ignores expanding GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, rants about evidence-free 'Dem Voter Fraud' at Tea Party event...

CRIMINAL PROBE LAUNCHED INTO GOP VOTER REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL IN FL
FL Dept. of Law Enforcement confirms 'enough evidence to warrant full-blown investigation'; Election officials told fraudulent forms 'may become evidence in court'...

Brad Breaks PA Photo ID & GOP Registration Fraud Scandal News on Hartmann TV
Another visit on Thom Hartmann's Big Picture with new news on several developing Election Integrity stories...

CAUGHT ON TAPE: COORDINATED NATIONWIDE GOP VOTER REG SCAM
The GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal reveals insidious nationwide registration scheme to keep Obama supporters from even registering to vote...

CRIMINAL ELECTION FRAUD COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST GOP 'FRAUD' FIRM
Scandal spreads to 11 FL counties, other states; RNC, Romney try to contain damage, split from GOP operative...

RICK SCOTT GETS ROLLED IN GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL
Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) sends blistering letter to Gov. Rick Scott (R) demanding bi-partisan reg fraud probe in FL; Slams 'shocking and hypocritical' silence, lack of action...

VIDEO: Brad Breaks GOP Reg Fraud Scandal on Hartmann TV
Breaking coverage as the RNC fires their Romney-tied voter registration firm, Strategic Allied Consulting...

RNC FIRES NATIONAL VOTER REGISTRATION FIRM FOR FRAUD
After FL & NC GOP fire Romney-tied group, RNC does same; Dead people found reg'd as new voters; RNC paid firm over $3m over 2 months in 5 battleground states...

EXCLUSIVE: Intvw w/ FL Official Who First Discovered GOP Reg Fraud
After fraudulent registration forms from Romney-tied GOP firm found in Palm Beach, Election Supe says state's 'fraud'-obsessed top election official failed to return call...

GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD FOUND IN FL
State GOP fires Romney-tied registration firm after fraudulent forms found in Palm Beach; Firm hired 'at request of RNC' in FL, NC, VA, NV & CO...
The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...


Guest: Slate legal reporter Mark Joseph Stern on Judge Brett Kavanaugh, the Constitutional rights he is likely to help overturn, and his background as a Federalist Society-trained party 'apparatchik'...
By Brad Friedman on 7/10/2018 5:41pm PT  

Democrats, abortion rights activists, environmentalists and civil libertarians, among others, are beginning to marshal their forces in opposition to Donald Trump's pick to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy on the U.S. Supreme Court. But that fight will be an uphill battle with unapologetic Senate Republicans who blocked President Obama's pick for the court for nearly a year, now promising a vote before this November's midterms while they still enjoy the slimmest of majorities in the U.S. Senate.

On today's BradCast [audio file to show linked below], we look at the legal history and political background of Trump's nominee for the post, Judge Brett Kavanaugh of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit. We're joined for that conversation by Slate's great legal reporter MARK JOSEPH STERN, who has been covering all things SCOTUS for us of late.

Stern counters, among other things, Trump's assertion during his Monday night announcement that Kavanaugh is a "thought leader" and "brilliant jurist". He details how the 53-year old federal appeals court judge uses cookie-cutter legal phrases to describe his "judicial philosophy", as crafted for him by the right-wing Federalist Society and Heritage Foundation. Those phrases --- "A judge must be independent and must interpret the law, not make the law. A judge must interpret statutes as written. And a judge must interpret the Constitution as written." --- betray his years of dedication not to individual liberties or laws or the Constitution, but in service to the cause of GOP politics.

"He's doing what Neil Gorsuch did," Stern tells me, "which is to spew out these lines which sound good, if you're not very attuned to legal argot. But what they really mean is 'I'm going to do whatever the hell I want, and I'm going to ascribe this pretextual, orginalist, textualist gleam to it in order to make it seem like I'm maintaining my independence and not just doing favors for Republicans.'"

Stern cites, as evidence, a number of Kavanaugh's rulings on the DC Circuit Court, his service on the Ken Starr commission in the 1990s (which led to the impeachment of President Bill Clinton), and his years as loyal White House legal counsel during the George W. Bush Administration. "He is a party man. Brett Kavanaugh is a Republican. He has been a Republican foot soldier in virtually every major Republican legal battle of modern times. He has served that role in his capacity as a judge on the DC Circuit to a 'T'."

We discuss Kavanaugh's road-map for overturning Roe v. Wade's nationwide Constitutional right to an abortion, as he laid out himself in his 2017 opinions attempting to block a lawful abortion sought by a 17-year old undocumented immigrant detained by the Trump Administration. But abortion is hardly the only hard-won right that will be, almost immediately, imperiled if Democrats are unable to block Kavanaugh's confirmation to what will become a very hard right-wing Court with his seating. Key environmental rulings are likely to be overturned, Stern argues, as well as those regarding voting rights, privacy rights, and many others.

Stern also explains why he remains very dubious, at best, that either Maine's Republican Senator Susan Collins or Alaska's Lisa Murkowski will break from their party to vote against Trump's nominee (Collins, he explains, is "not widely known for having a spine" and Murkowski, so far, has shown little sign of having one either) and why, if confirmed, Kavanaugh could decide to blow up years of precedent by refusing to recuse himself from SCOTUS appeals to cases that he has previously heard as a member of the DC Circuit Court.

There is one --- and, really, only one --- thin thread of potentially encouraging news regarding Kavanaugh's nomination. That can be found in his 2009 law review article on whether sitting Presidents may be indicted or face other criminal and civil legal actions. Kavanaugh's written comments on the matter, as we discuss, may, in fact, serve to argue the opposite of what a number of his opponents have been (mis)reporting regarding those remarks. In fact, Kavanaugh's argument suggests a sitting President can, in fact, be indicted under both current law and the U.S. Constitution, for civil and criminal matters alike.

Finally today, we're joined by Desi Doyen for the latest Green News Report and much more related to it, including the early response from environmentalists on Trump's SCOTUS pick, how the recent record-smashing heatwaves we've seen from coast to coast over the past week could become much worse very soon, and how this year's hurricane season has already turned deadly from the Atlantic to the Pacific...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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Even if it means denying a Senate quorum and shutting it down entirely...
By Brad Friedman on 7/2/2018 6:20pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Incredibly enough, one newly nominated Democratic U.S. House candidate had to ask, out loud, on one of the weekend network news shows: "Are we fighting or not?" The question was in reference to whether Senate Democrats planned to do everything within their power to block a vote on Donald Trump's nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court. [Audio link to show follows below.]

That Democratic U.S. House nominee was progressive Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who unseated the 4th most powerful Democrat in the House just last week in New York's Democratic Primary election by a landslide. She was appearing on NBC's Meet the Press. It's simply stunning that the Democratic Party's response to the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy has been so flat-footed that it's still unclear today, almost a week later, whether Democrats are prepared to fight, all out, against a second Trump nominee for the Court who will be the decisive vote in overturning and reversing decades of hard-won rights on virtually every front.

Today, Democratic Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer called on Americans to pressure their Senators to block anybody nominated by Trump. The call, via a New York Times op-ed charging that "our rights hang in the balance", comes not a moment too soon and follows a lukewarm response from many Senate Dems (including Schumer) and a tepid commitment by (supposedly) pro-choice GOP Senator Susan Collins of Maine to vote against a Trump nominee who is "hostile" to settled law, such as Roe v. Wade.

It's still unclear whether all Democrats are onboard with blocking Trump's nominee, whether any Republicans will actually join them, and what Dems are willing to do in order to block such a vote entirely for a few months, until at least after this November's election where they could regain the majority. That, even after Senate Republicans blocked Obama's SCOTUS nominee for nearly a year before stealing a majority on the Court with Trump's nominee Neil Gorsuch.

We discuss the possibilities for Dems on today's show, along with what I describe as the necessity for Dems to walk out and deprive the Senate of a Constitutionally-required quorum and bring all business to a halt, if that what it takes to block Trump's nominee. That nominee, of course, would also immediately have a huge conflict of interest in ruling on a President who nominated him or her, even as he was the subject of a serious criminal investigation by a Special Counsel into an alleged conspiracy against the United States and unlawful obstruction of that investigation.

Remarkably, there are still many "Very Smart People" in the media and Democratic politics who seem to feel that the fight is already lost, and that Dems should somehow keep their powder dry until after the crucial midterm elections or else risk losing their chances of winning back one or both houses of Congress this November.

That is nonsense. This is the fight of all of our lives, at this point. Political calculations like that are both outrageous and counter-productive for Democrats for several of the reasons I detail today. If Democrats can't take a stand on this, they should get out of politics all together. They may or may not win the fight, but that's nowhere close to the point.

We open the phone lines today to all of that and more, as both elected Democrats --- and even many of those calling into the show today --- seem to have a very difficult time staying focused on what actually matters at this crucial moment in history and what is at stake for the country itself in the midst of our ongoing Trump/GOP-fueled National Emergency...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Guest: Common Cause Nat'l Redistricting Manager Dan Vicuna; Also: Scheme to add Medicaid work requirements in KY struck down, and Trump's trade wars are now costing real American jobs...
By Brad Friedman on 6/29/2018 6:35pm PT  

On today's BradCast: With Justice Anthony Kennedy retiring from the U.S. Supreme Court, is all hope lost for overturning partisan (and racial) gerrymanders that have helped to keep Democrats and their voters from enjoying appropriate and Constitutional representation at both the state and federal level?

But, before that today: What appears to be good news from a U.S. District Court striking down the Trump Administration's approval of Kentucky's cruel new work requirement for Medicaid recipients as "arbitrary and capricious", may not end up being quite as good news as it sounds. We explain why.

Next: Trump's tariffs and trade wars are beginning to cost jobs in the U.S., and the first jobs losses are to Trump supporters in Missouri. The next victims could be those who work in the U.S. automobile industry. Of course, all of this could be stopped in its tracks but, apparently, the Republicans who control both houses of Congress have no interest in putting the brakes on this out of control and dangerous Presidency.

Then: The final two weeks of the U.S. Supreme Court's term have been disappointing ones for many, including opponents of both partisan and racial gerrymandering. Federal courts in multiple states had determined that Republican-controlled states (and one Democratic one) had unlawfully and unconstitutionally created U.S. House and state legislative maps that impermissibly prevented voters from being appropriately represented in Congress and state legislatures.

Over the past two weeks, however, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed a lower court ruling that had struck down several racial gerrymanders in Texas, and they also punted three different partisan gerrymandering cases, in Wisconsin, Maryland and North Carolina, back to the lower courts for rehearing. Perhaps the most disappointing such case was Common Cause v. Rucho in the closely divided swing-state of North Carolina, where a federal appeals court found a clear case of partisan gerrymandering and ordered the entire U.S. House map to be redrawn in time for the 2018 midterms.

In that case, the Republicans who drew the map admitted they did so in order to give the GOP a 10 to 3 partisan advantage in U.S. House seats, despite state voters narrowly supporting Obama in 2008, Trump in 2016, and with Democrats winning statewide elections for Governor and Attorney General that same year.

And all of those SCOTUS punts came just before Justice Anthony Kennedy, who gerrymandering opponents had hoped would finally be the swing vote to end the practice of partisan redistricting once and for all, announced his retirement instead.

We're joined today by Common Cause's National Redistricting Manager DAN VICUNA to explain the outcomes and current status of those cases in TX, WI, MD and NC, and how opponents of gerrymandering plan to move ahead now that Kennedy --- their greatest hope for ending the practice nationally, once and for all --- will no longer be on the Court when those cases ultimately return.

"Mind you," Vicuna points out, regarding the thumbs up, for now, that SCOTUS gave to NC to continue using their current partisan gerrymanders in 2018, "the reason why they redrew these maps in 2016, late in a Census redistricting cycle, is because their original map was struck down as an illegal racial gerrymander."

Finally, speaking of the extremist Republican legislature in NC, lawmakers there on Friday approved a statewide initiative for the 2018 ballot, on a partyline vote, that would, if supported voters, amend the state constitution to require Photo ID voting restrictions at the polling place. That, after a law they had passed to do the same thing was struck down in 2016 by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals because it was found to have targeted African-American voters "with almost surgical precision"...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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P.S. Tables are turned on me, a bit, in a new podcast from the great Terrence McNally, long time progressive broadcaster and podcaster, in which he interviews me on all manner of things, from how The BRAD BLOG got started in the first place about 15 years ago, to what we need to do to climb out of the soup this country is now in as we barrel toward the 2018 mid-terms. McNally is a great interviewer, and the discussion, I think you'll find, is quite a lively and fun one --- particularly given the dark hours we're now in! It airs this weekend, but you can listen to it now right here...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Guest: Legal reporter Mark Joseph Stern on 'Korematsu 2.0' and how the GOP's theft of the Supreme Court has finally paid off big time...
By Brad Friedman on 6/26/2018 6:27pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The U.S. Supreme Court seat stolen by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his Senate Republicans --- who carried out the unprecedented blockade of President Obama's SCOTUS nominee Merrick Garland for almost a year following the death of Antonin Scalia --- paid off in spades today in two separate 5 to 4 decisions which should forever have an asterisk next to them in the history books. [Audio link to today's show is posted below.]

First up today, however, primary elections are being held in seven states on Tuesday in New York, Maryland, Utah, Colorado and Oklahoma, with primary runoffs in Mississippi and South Carolina. We'll have noteworthy results and problem reports on tomorrow's BradCast, though we already know of one huge problem in Baltimore. (No, it's not a mere "glitch" or "snafu", Baltimore Sun. It is a failure...at the very least!) On Monday night, it was revealed that Maryland failed to include updated voter registration information for some 80,0000 voters who made changes to their party affiliation or residential addresses since April of 2017. The announcement was made by the state late on the evening before Tuesday's elections, in which those voters were forced to vote on provisional ballots at the polls. Those ballots will be included in the results, but won't be tallied until next week.

Then, we're joined again today by Slate's great legal reporter MARK JOSEPH STERN to discuss both of the U.S. Supreme Court's grim rulings today on Trump's Muslim travel ban and on so-called "crisis pregnancy centers", as well as several decisions from Monday --- all of which, Stern correctly points out, would almost certainly have seen the opposite outcome under Garland instead of Justice Neil Gorsuch who has been the "decisive 5th vote" in each of the cases. "Every single one of the decision that we're talking about right now would have come out differently if Justice Merrick Garland were sitting on the Supreme Court right now instead of Justice Neil Gorsuch. We would have an end to partisan gerrymandering, an end to racial gerrymandering, an end to voter suppression, an end to crisis pregnancy centers' efforts to be lawless and not have to comply with basic medical licensing. The travel ban would be struck down. It's almost brutal to think about how all of these cases would turn out if the man who should be on the Court were on the Court."

Stern details Chief Justice John Roberts' 5 to 4 majority opinion in the travel ban case, in which the Court overturned multiple lower courts to uphold Trump's third attempt at banning immigrants and travelers from several majority Muslim countries. As dissenter Justice Sonia Sotomayor also does, Stern compares the ruling to the notoriously shameful 1944 Supreme Court decision in Korematsu v. U.S., which allowed Japanese-Americans to be forced into internment camps during WWII. Today's ruling is being described as "shameful", “hateful" and "racist" by immigration advocates and religious groups alike. Stern calls the decision --- in which Roberts largely dismisses Trump's oft-repeated statements revealing his personal animus towards Muslims --- as "Korematsu 2.0"

"This Court is not as disturbed and disgusted by Trump's approach to immigration as I think a majority of Americans are," he tells me. "This is a Court that's eager to bless the President's moves in the realm of national security, and to basically believe his pretext, even when it's flagrantly B.S"

Sotomayor argues in her dissent: "By blindly accepting the Government's misguided invitation to sanction a discriminatory policy motivated by animosity toward a disfavored group, all in the name of a superficial claim of national security, the Court redeploys the same dangerous logic underlying Korematsu and merely replaces one gravely wrong decision with another."

Stern also details Justice Clarence Thomas' 5 to 4 majority opinion which, under a pretext of First Amendment free speech rights, strikes down California's restrictions on anti-abortionist scam artists posing as phony medical clinics to hoax pregnant women into not receiving abortions. Thomas, charges Stern, "wrote an astonishingly broad decision that effectively says the government has no power to regulate professional speech, no power to regulate medical speech, or doctors' speech, except when they are telling abortion patients not to get abortions." In all, he says, describing how the Court is also targeting voting rights by reversing multiple lower courts in recent rulings, they are "on a kind of tear right now, overturning court after court" and/or using any "flimsy reason to send a case back down" for rehearing.

Yes, elections matter, if you haven't noticed. In the case of the 2016 election, the result will now haunt the U.S. for generations.

Finally today, we're joined by Desi Doyen with the latest Green News Report on the climate changed-fueled flooding in Iowa that resulted in an oil train derailment and hundreds of thousands of gallons of dirty tar sands crude spilled into the drinking water supplies, and other such cheerful news to close out today's program...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Also: SCOTUS undermines electoral democracy again, this time in TX and NC, and callers ring in on Trump, Dems and our immigration 'crisis'...
By Brad Friedman on 6/25/2018 5:58pm PT  

As the GOP's stolen U.S. Supreme Court further undermined American democracy today...and as climate change-fueled extreme weather resulted in a tar sands oil train derailing and leaking hundreds of thousands of gallons of crude into the drinking water supply for Iowa (and perhaps even Nebraska)....and as the President of the United States lied about immigration facts again while calling for the violation of both U.S. and international law by ending all Constitutional Due Process rights for those seeking asylum in the U.S....many of the always-reliable hand-wringers in the corporate mainstream media and the same Rightwingers who went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court to support a bigoted baker who refused to bake a cake for a gay couple, are just beside themselves that some Administration officials are facing public protests for their abhorrent complicity in undermining so much that the U.S. supposedly stands for.

We detail all of that on today's BradCast, and open up the phones to listeners on all of it, including calls on whether it's appropriate (and/or long overdue) to protest/shun public officials in their private lives (at restaurants, etc.); what really needs to be done regarding immigration (lots of fact-checking today to Trump's continuing lies about it), and whether, as student protester Mario Savio said, when kicking off the Free Speech Movement at Berkeley in 1964, this is a "a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can't take part! You can't even passively take part! And you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels...upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you've got to make it stop! And you've got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you're free, the machine will be prevented from working at all!"...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Guest: Slate legal reporter Mark Joseph Stern; Also: Abuse reported at child immigrant detention centers; Trump's trade war dangers; More...
By Brad Friedman on 6/21/2018 6:04pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we have not one, but two important and separate warnings for Donald Trump and the Republican Party, as pulled from the deep audio archives of 1988. Both of which --- on two separate topics from two separate people --- they seem to be completely ignoring, even as one of those warnings comes from their supposed idol Ronald Reagan. [Audio link to show posted below.]

First up today, the Trump-caused child immigration crisis continues to unfold with several disturbing new reports of unspeakable abuse at two separate federally-contracted facilities, based on filings in new federal court cases. One from Associated Press on beatings and more at a youth facility in Virginia and the other from the Center for Investigative Reporting on the forced injection of psychotropic drugs at a facility near Houston. That, as an Executive Order signed by the President on Wednesday, reversing part of his Administration's policy, fails to speak to family reunification for more than 2,300 children separated from their parents in recent weeks under Trump's "zero tolerance" border policy, and an Administration request to the Pentagon for space to house some 20,000 migrant children.

While all of those American nightmares have been unfolding over the past week, the effects of Trump's growing trade war have been quietly playing out in the background, as the Dow has dropped some 600 points over the past four days, with China and friendly allies like Canada, Mexico and the EU vowing massive and swift retaliation for ill-considered tariff's on foreign imports instituted by Trump. Among the hardest-hit victims of his new trade wars: farmers who were among some of biggest supporters of Trump's candidacy in 2016.

Perhaps that explains why, as share in an audio clip from 1988 today, Ronald Reagan warned: "We should beware of the demagogues who are ready to declare a trade war...all while cynically waving the American flag."

Next, we're joined by MARK JOSEPH STERN, legal reporter at Slate, and our "Supreme Correspondent" this month, as the U.S. Supreme Court slowly releases a bevy of decisions in advance of their planned Summer recess, on a number of major cases heard at the high court over the past term. Among the cases we discuss today:

  • On Thursday, SCOTUS released a 5 to 4 decision allowing states to impose sales taxes on all online purchases. The ruling found some very strange bedfellows in both its majority and minority opinions, but both Stern and I agree, the decision makes sense, and will be good for local retailers, jobs, the economy and state budgets where, particularly in "red" states, tax cuts in recent years have lead to the gutting of education, infrastructure and other important social services. The 1967 SCOTUS ruling struck down today, was "a totally capricious standard that the Court created itself," Stern argues. "This was the Court fixing a problem that it made."
  • Stern also details an exceedingly troubling --- if little reported --- case out of South Dakota, where a man was found guilty of murder and sentenced to death, according to jury members themselves, they feared, as a gay man, he might enjoy life in prison too much. Seriously. Perhaps the most disturbing part of this matter: the Court declined to hear the case at all. Even the liberal Justices failed to offer a written dissent to the Court's decision.
  • We also discuss the SCOTUS' regrettable punts this week on two partisan gerrymandering cases in Wisconsin and Maryland. (More on those cases earlier this week, with author David Daley on Monday's BradCast.)
  • And the seemingly unprecedented federal court smack down of Kris Kobach, notorious GOP "voter fraud" fraudster and Kansas Secretary of State. His "Proof of Citizenship" voter registration law was struck down by a George W. Bush-appointed federal judge, and he was slapped for his contemptible performance in the courtroom --- where he represented both himself and the state of KS --- with more humiliating sanctions that include an order to attend six hours of legal classes. Moreover, as Stern reports, Kobach appears to be in still more violation of court orders, as he has yet to remove the requirement for citizenship documentation for voter registration from the KS Sec. of State website, as the judge ordered him to do "immediately" in her ruling on Monday.

    "I think that there is a decent chance that we could see even more sanctions for Kobach after this," Stern tells me. "Kobach is such a clown that this judge is going to finally have to bring down the hammer and I think it's going to be a glorious sight." (More on that case, with Sophia Lakin, one of the ACLU trial attorneys on the case, from Tuesday's BradCast.)

  • Previewing the cases still to come before the end of the month, Sterns warns: "I think the Supreme Court is going to hobble public sector unions by preventing them from collecting dues from no-union members. I worry the Supreme Court is going to uphold the [Muslim] travel ban. I do think the Court may put real limits on the government's ability to collect information about where your cell phone has been from your provider. That's going to be a bright spot, I hope. But I also think the court's going to end up striking down California's disclosure requirements for crisis pregnancy centers. So, this is s not going to be a good term for progressives. I think everyone needs to just buckle in and focus on November."

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report on a number of important issues that the Trump Administration did quietly this week as the rest of the nation and media were consumed with the child immigration story, and the 30th anniversary of Dr. James Hansen's first dire warning to Congress --- also in 1988 --- about the then-looming menace of global warming due to the unprecedented release of greenhouse gasses, such as carbon dioxide from the manmade burning of fossil fuels, into the atmosphere...

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Guest: Trial attorney Sophia Lin Lakin of ACLU's Voting Rights Project; Also: Trump's border 'crisis' worsens for Republicans...
By Brad Friedman on 6/19/2018 6:37pm PT  

On today's BradCast: GOPers in D.C. try to overcome Trump's wildly unpopular new border policy and Kansas' Secretary of State loses again in court and faces what may be his most humiliating moment to date. But that's very good news for voters! [Audio link to program is posted below.]

First up, the panic for Republicans on Capitol Hill continued to mount on Tuesday as GOP lawmakers scrambled to find a legislative way out of the family separation crisis created by Donald Trump at the southern border, where more than 2,300 children have now been separated from their parents since his "zero tolerance" policy was first implemented just two months ago. Also today, the Administration announced their intention to pull the U.S. out of the U.N. Human Rights Council the day after its outgoing head blasted the United State's new border policy as "unconscionable" for "inflicting such abuse on children". We discuss the latest on all of the above.

Then, after a quick recap of the 8-year ignominious history of Kansas Sec. of State Kris Kobach's inglorious tenure as the nation's top elected GOP "voter fraud" fraudster, we're joined by attorney SOPHIA LIN LAKIN of the ACLU's Voting Rights Project, to discuss Kobach's latest brutal humiliation. In a victory for the state's voters on Monday, U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson (a George W. Bush appointee), struck down Kobach's extreme "Proof of Citizenship" voter registration law, finding it in violation of the National Voter Registration Act and the Constitution.

The KS Sec. of State has repeatedly defended the law in court, and has been defeated in virtually every battle over it for years, since persuading the state legislature to adopt the measure. But Robinson's ruling on Monday permanently enjoins the law, which had kept tens of thousands of legitimate state registrants in various forms of electoral limbo as Kobach continued to insist their was a massive (if, apparently invisible) epidemic of non-citizen voters jeopardizing the integrity of KS elections.

Kobach, who originally ran for office in 2010 almost solely on the false and misleading promise to "STOP VOTER FRAUD" in Kansas, has failed to find virtually any such fraud during his eight years in office. As Lakin, a member of the ACLU's trial team explains today, during the trial earlier this year, wherein Kobach chose to represented himself and his state, he was unable to show evidence of almost any non-citizen registrations or votes cast in Kansas, despite millions of legal ballots cast during the same period.

"From 1999 to 2013," she tells me, "Kobach was able to present just 39 confirmed non-citizens who were able to successfully get on the rolls, and of those 39, only 11 voted." Most of the registrations, she explains --- as did the judge in her 118-page ruling [PDF] --- were due to administrative errors.

"The judge pretty much agreed that Kris Kobach has been peddling a xenophobic lie that non-citizens are engaging in rampant election fraud. And this was his chance. This court battle that we just had was his chance to put on the record his evidence that this is what was happening. The judge saw that evidence, and she agreed that there was very little evidence of non-citizen voting in Kansas --- certainly not enough to justify the tens of thousands of individuals that have been disenfranchised by that requirement."

"The judge very much wanted Kris Kobach to have his day in court, to put his evidence of non-citizen voting to the test, to see what he was able to actually muster," Lakin tells me. "We even re-opened discovery for the very purpose of him doing that. So, the proof is in the pudding here. He utterly failed."

Of course, Kobach has vowed to appeal the ruling, as he does. But, aside from the verdict's very good news for voters, there was another extraordinary aspect to Robinson's ruling on Monday. In what amounted to a third set of judicial sanctions against him during the long course of the 2016 case and this year's full bench trial, Judge Robinson admonished Kobach in a newly humiliating way. After previously sanctioning him to pay some $50,000 in ACLU legal bills, due to his contempt in having misled the court, Robinson ordered Kobach to attend 6 hours of law school to study up on federal and state courtroom procedures!

Lakin details how, during the trial, the judge repeatedly --- and embarrassingly --- was forced to explain basic rules of evidence and other standard courtroom procedures to Kobach.

"Judge Robinson essentially ordered Kobach to go back to school" in her ruling, she says, explaining that Kobach's performance in the courtroom and repeated reprimands from the judge were likely even worse than the clownshow that the media reported them as, at the time. When I asked how unusual these type of sanctions are against a trial lawyer, she says: "To be honest, I don't think I've ever seen so many sanction rulings against an attorney at all," much less one where they were ordered to attend legal classes.

And, as if that wasn't enough, the ACLU launched yet another lawsuit today against Kris Kobach, this time over his so-called "Crosscheck" system to help (inaccurately) purge voting rolls in some 26 states.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, as Trump's tariffs against China blow back on the U.S. energy industry, his EPA's gutting of regulations threatens tens of thousands of lives, global warming is making hurricane damage far worse and housing prices fall, and as McDonald's finally plans to do away with single-use plastic straws...

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Guest: Author David Daley of FairVote; Plus callers!...
By Brad Friedman on 6/18/2018 6:24pm PT  

On today's BradCast: More disappointing (if not deadly) rulings on voting rights were released on Monday from the U.S. Supreme Court, and callers ring in on the growing outrage of the last few days, thanks to the parent/child separation of Donald Trump's "zero tolerance" policy at the border.

First up today, two long-awaited rulings from the U.S. Supreme Court on partisan gerrymandering were finally handed down on Monday. In both cases, as our guest today, FairVote's DAVID DALEY details, the Court decided to essentially punt the cases back down to lower courts.

Daley, author of RATF**KED: The True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America's Democracy, which details the GOP scheme to implement extreme partisan redistricting following the 2010 census, explains that Wisconsin Republicans will be allowed to keep their wildly unfair state assembly districts for yet another election, and that, in Maryland, where Democrats admit to having gerrymandered a U.S. House district to their own advantage, that gerrymandered district will also stay in place, almost a full decade after being implemented. That, despite lower courts finding those districts to be unlawful and unconstitutional, and other pending cases --- such as the federal court which found all of the U.S. House districts in North Carolina to have been unlawfully gerrymandered by Republicans --- still on hold and awaiting a hearing at SCOTUS.

"That's what's so frustrating and sad about today," Daley tells me. "They had a buffet of statistical standards and evidence that all pointed in the same direction and that revealed exactly what had happened here, and, instead, they ducked." He explains the basis on which the Court punted in both cases and how "Republicans have essentially been able to run out the clock to steal, in some ways, the entire decade of power, especially in state legislatures around the country."

While the "silver lining" on this today is that the Court did not declare, as some had feared, that it was up to legislatures, not courts, to fix the problem that legislatures themselves created, Daley argues that this was a missed opportunity. The Court's swing-vote, Justice Anthony Kennedy, has long suggested he'd be open to finding partisan gerrymandering unconstitutional once and for all. But, once again, in both of today's cases, he ducked. That means --- should the 81-year old Justice (or any of the others) leave the Court before another case comes up to offer a definitive ruling --- things could become much worse, for generations, if Trump is allowed to appoint a replacement.

Then, as even some Republicans (a precious few) begin to finally turn against the Trump Administration's grotesque and inhumane new policy which separates children from their parents after they are detained crossing the southern border with Mexico --- resulting in thousands of kids being locked away in detention centers in just the past few weeks --- how long can Trump continue to falsely blame the Democrats for his own Dept. of Justice's new "zero tolerance" policy?

Trump and his department chiefs continue to double down on his false claim, despite the growing outrage from Americans after disturbing stories, pictures, and sounds of abuse continue to be reported out of these detention centers around the country, with media finally gaining very limited access to them.

We open the phone lines today to callers on all of those issues, as the chilling rise of Trump's GOP-approved authoritarianism in the U.S. continues to stun the nation and the world...

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Guest: Legal reporter Mark Joseph Stern of Slate...
By Brad Friedman on 6/14/2018 6:37pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Happy birthday, Mr. President! To celebrate today, the New York Attorney general filed a civil lawsuit [PDF] against Donald J. Trump, his so-called "charitable foundation", and his children Eric, Don Jr. and Ivanka, charging that his foundation was used as little more than a personal and business slush fund, and to benefit his 2016 Presidential campaign. [Audio link to show follows below.]

All of that, NY Attorney General Barbara Underwood alleges in her suit, is in violation of both state and federal law. Many of the allegations against Trump's unlawful use of his foundation were reported in the run-up to the election, though much more self-dealing was discovered in the course of the AG's 2-year investigation, including that the Trump Foundation's board of directors had not met since 1999, that some board members had no idea they were even on the board, and that Trump's then-campaign manager Corey Lewandowski personally directed checks to be written from the foundation for campaign purposes.

Underwood's petition seeks nearly $3 million in reparations and to bar both Trump and his children from sitting on the boards of other nonprofit charitable organizations. She also refers the matter [PDF] to the Federal Elections Commission and the Internal Revenue Service for further investigation.

In other important news today, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a 7 to 2 opinion finding that Minnesota's polling place ban on t-shirts and buttons with political slogans, such as those worn by 'Tea Party' members at the polls in 2010, is overly broad and violates Constitutional First Amendment free speech protections. Slate legal reporter MARK JOSEPH STERN joins us to explain the Court's opinion, as well as the far more disturbing ruling from the GOP's stolen SCOTUS earlier this week, when the Court found 5 to 4 in favor of Ohio's voter roll purge scheme by Republican Sec. of State Jon Husted.

That scheme begins the process for removing voters from the rolls after a voter fails to vote in one single federal election. Stern discusses the troubling opinion which overturns the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal's 2016 finding that the Buckeye State's scheme directly violates the 1993 National Voter Registration Act's restriction against removing a voter from the rolls "by reason of the person's failure to vote."

On today's ruling, I am somewhat less sanguine about what the Court ruled than Stern is, but it's a close call. On the Ohio case, I think we're both in agreement. As he notes: "First, you are identified for a purge because you didn't vote just one single time, and second, you are purged because you failed to cast a ballot. Again, that would seem to go against not just the text but the express purpose of both [the National Voter Registration Act and the Help America Vote Law]. So for Alito to claim that he's just following the text of the law, and dissenters are trying to enact their own policy --- that rings absolutely false to me."

Sterns explains the largely semantic trick that Justice Samuel Alito used to, essentially, flip the provision written by Congress onto its head on behalf of the court's five Republican appointees; how the state's massive purges have disproportionately affected minority and low-income voters; and how Trump and Jeff Session's Dept. of Justice has reversed an unprecedented number of positions on federal laws since taking office.

Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, as even some Republicans appear to finally be turning against wildly corrupt fossil fuel industry "swamp monster" and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt...

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Guest: Former HUD official Diane Yentel; Also: DoJ spied on journalist in leak probe, refuses to defend 'ObamaCare' in new lawsuit...
By Brad Friedman on 6/8/2018 6:45pm PT  

It was another very difficult day, with a fire hose of incoming news, figuring out what most needs to be covered, underscored, highlighted and given context to on today's BradCast. Here are some of the stories that made the difficult cut. [Audio link to show follows below.]...

First up: The Department of Justice appears to have ignored its own guidelines for dealing with journalists and their Constitutional First Amendment protections. James A. Wolfe, a 30-year veteran of the Senate Intelligence Committee, in charge of security, has now been charged with three counts of lying to federal investigators as part of an aggressive leak investigation. It should be noted that he has not (at least yet) been charged with leaking classified information, just of lying to investigators.

Related to that indictment, we have now learned that New York Times journalist Ali Watkins, said to have been in a romantic relationship with Wolfe at one time, had at least a year's worth of her phone and email records secretly seized by Trump's DoJ without her knowledge. That means the confidential sources and whistleblowers (above and beyond Wolfe, who, she says, was never a source of classified information for her) have presumably now all been exposed to the DoJ. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has said that his DoJ has tripled the number of leak investigations carried out by Obama's DoJ, which had already prosecuted more government leakers than all previous Administrations combined.

The turn of events has, justifiably, gravely alarmed journalists and First Amendment advocates, such as the Freedom of the Press Foundation which has decried both the indictments of Wolfe and, in particular, the spying on Atkins, who was given no opportunity to challenge the matter in court. "Having her private records scrutinized and spied on by the government for doing her job as a journalist, and the Justice Department's move should be loudly condemned by everyone no matter your political preference," said Trevor Timm, the Foundation's Executive Director.

Next: In another alarming break with both precedent and tradition, Trump's DoJ announced they would not defend the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act ("ObamaCare") against a lawsuit filed by some 20 Republican state Attorneys General. The DoJ traditionally defends federal laws duly adopted by Congress and signed by the President in all but the most extreme circumstances. According to experts, however, this is an otherwise very weak case against the law which has ensured affordable health care for tens of millions of Americans since its passage in 2010.

We explain the basis for the suit, and how, if successful, it would gut two of the most popular provisions of the ACA, it's restriction on charging the elderly more for health insurance, and on insurance companies denying covering to those with pre-existing conditions.

Three career attorneys at DoJ were removed from the case on Thursday so that a Trump political appointee could take it over and flip the Department's previous position defending ACA and opposing the lawsuit. Nonetheless, some 17 state Attorneys General from Democratic leaning states have interceded to oppose the suit and defend the federal law.

Finally today: As if all of that isn't disturbing enough. A new bill introduced in Congress, supported by the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson, would see rent for low-income tenants in federally-subsidized housing increased by an average of 26% --- year after year, according to a new analysis! The "Make Affordable Housing Work Act" introduced in April, would affect roughly four million American households, many of them families with children who could be forced into homelessness by this extraordinary cruel measure which Carson recently described on Fox "News" as "our attempt to give poor people a way out of poverty."

Our guest today, former director of the Public Housing Management and Occupancy Division at the HUD under Barack Obama, DIANE YENTEL, charges that Carson's statement is "as absurd as it sounds. Clearly, increasing rents on people isn't the way out of poverty, it's the way deeper into poverty. And potentially homelessness."

Yentel, now President and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, explains the extraordinary measure, noting that "by design, the greatest burden falls on seniors, people with disabilities, and families with young kids." In fact, the measure would, according to AP, "increase the percentage of income poor tenants are required to pay from 30 percent to 35 percent [of their income, and] would eliminate deductions, for medical care and child care, and for each child in a home."

Moreover, while Carson's HUD claims the elderly and disabled would be exempt from the change, Yentel charges that "is just not true", and explains how an estimated 314,000 households stand to lose their elderly or disabled status and will see their rents increased as well.

She goes on to argue that we already face a massive housing crisis for low and middle-income Americans, and that this measure would only make things far worse. "The housing crisis that we're in right now has reached historic heights. It's most negatively impacting the lowest income people. The National Low Income Housing Coalition's research [shows] we currently have a shortage of 7 million homes affordable and available for the lowest income people. Nationwide, for every 100 of the lowest-income people who need housing assistance, there's only 35 homes that are affordable and available to them."

Yentel goes on to tell me that most of those who would be effected are already working families, and that while raising the federal minimum wage is a necessary part of making housing affordable for millions of these Americans, it would have to be raised to more than $21 per hour for most to be able to afford a modest, two bedroom apartment. That, even as the wealth disparity between rich and poor in the U.S. continues to grow in the wake of the Trump/GOP tax cuts last year, gifting some $1.5 trillion to the wealthiest of Americans who need it the least and now "by cutting the programs that give the most basic resources, basic benefits, to the lowest income, most vulnerable people in our country."

"I think that's pretty shameful," says Yentel...

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Guest: Slate legal reporter Mark Joseph Stern on 'having cake and eating it too'; Also: Probs for voters in CA and SD, as eight states hold primaries...
By Brad Friedman on 6/5/2018 6:05pm PT  

On today's BradCast: As voters head to the polls in eight states (CA, AL, IA, MS, MT, NJ, NM and SD) on Tuesday, we cover a few "sorta victories" elsewhere for now, including at the U.S. Supreme Court. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Reports of problems at the polls have already cropped up, however, in South Dakota, where electronic pollbooks failed in eight counties, and here in Los Angeles, where a "random issue with the print job" on paper rosters at polling places, according to the County Clerk, has led to some voters needing to cast provisional ballots.

As we await election results and likely reports of more problems elsewhere, a "sorta victory" for Twitter users who had sued the President after he blocked them on Twitter. Those seven plaintiffs were finally unblocked by Trump after a federal court found last month that he was violating their Constitutional First Amendment free speech rights. But, on the same day those seven were unblocked, the Dept. of Justice appealed the court's ruling anyway.

In Alabama, another "sorta victory" as the story of Sec. of State John Merrill blocking folks on Twitter for pointing out his errors as the state's top election official, has finally been picked up by the corporate media in the state. That, just hours before voters headed to the polls, with Merrill himself on the ballot. The coverage comes after we first reported on Merrill's behavior months ago (when he blocked me for being right about the state's computerized election tabulators), and again last week after he sent me a flurry of insane emails [PDF] in response to a simple query as to whether he planned to unblock followers now that a federal court has found his behavior to be in violation of the U.S. Constitution. The Montgomery Advertiser's weak coverage, however, largely serves to offer the Sec. of State a platform to call election experts and journalists "trolls" (for being correct and polite), while still refusing to unblock them.

In Arizona, a lawsuit against the state for keeping tens of thousands of registered voters off the rolls for failing to provide "proof of citizenship" before being allowed to vote has now been settled with a consent decree that will enfranchise many voters, even if it will still result in thousands being disallowed from voting in state and local contests. So, a "sorta victory" there as well.

And, at the U.S. Supreme Court this week, a "sorta victory" for both anti-gay bigots and civil rights advocates as the long-awaited ruling in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. CO Civil Rights Commission, a case involving a Colorado baker who refused to make a cake for a same-sex couple's wedding reception is finally decided by a narrow 7 to 2 ruling in favor of the baker...sorta.

Slate legal reporter MARK JOSEPH STERN joins us to explain how Justice Anthony Kennedy, with his majority opinion. tries to "have his cake and eat it too," by largely kicking the can down the road for another day, while ostensibly siding with the baker against the state Commission on rather dubious religious freedom grounds.

The decision, however, also appears to strengthen the existing right of states to bar discrimination by similar businesses on the basis of sexual orientation. So much so, that, under the ruling, the two plaintiffs, according to their ACLU attorney, should be able to walk into Jack Phillip's Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, CO today and purchase a cake for their wedding anniversary, if they wished. If they are blocked, that would be in violation of the Constitution. Nonetheless, a definitive opinion from SCOTUS on the issue of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation will have to wait for another day.

"If the Supreme Court applied the same standard to the [Trump] travel ban case as they have applied to Masterpiece, the Court would have no trouble striking down the travel ban as a violation of First Amendment religious freedoms," Stern tells me, when I ask whether Kennedy's weak religious liberty argument here may apply more to some religions than others. "Unfortunately, I do not think the court is going to be consistent. I think, instead, the Court's going to wind up applying a much stricter standard when it's Christians' rights on the line, than when it's Muslims' rights on the line. And we're all going to be very disappointed in this kind of inconsistent religious liberty --- 'for me, but not for thee.'"

Stern offers smart insight on the Court's opinion(s) --- which were widely misreported elsewhere on Monday --- as well as another decision this week from the Court on the Trump Administration's failed attempt to punish the ACLU for supporting a teen immigrant who sought a lawful abortion after being detained at the border. That ruling, at least, was a complete victory, he explains, not just a "sorta" one.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with news on two deadly volcanoes in Guatemala and Hawaii, the Administration's new scheme to bail-out the coal industry, Canada's new scheme to nationalize a controversial pipeline, and more distressing fossil fuel and climate change news...

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Guest: Fordham Univ. School of Law's legal historian Jed Shugerman...
By Brad Friedman on 6/4/2018 6:34pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The nation appears to be lurching ever closer to a full-blown Constitutional Crisis, as Trump and his team offer a series of extraordinary and largely unprecedented (save for Nixon) claims in support of sweeping Presidential powers, over the past few days, which would place the Executive completely above the rule of law. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Over the weekend, Team Trump was once again on the offensive in the media, following the disclosure of a 20-page letter sent by Trump's attorneys to Special Counsel Robert Mueller in January, wherein they argued, among other things, that Presidents cannot legally be subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury, cannot be guilty of obstruction of justice, since they have unfettered power over all Dept. of Justice investigations, cannot be indicted while serving, and have absolute power to pardon anybody for any crime at any time for any reason.

Moreover, on Monday, Trump took to Twitter to charge that the Mueller probe is, itself "totally UNCONSTITUTIONAL" (his caps) and that he has "the absolute right to PARDON" himself. Many constitutional law experts disagree with many of those points.

In response, author, blogger, Slate contributor and Fordham University School of Law legal historian JED SHUGERMAN joins us on today's show to offer historical, legal, and Constitutional points of clarity and precedent on the power and scope of Presidential pardons, subpoenas, indictments and the expansive interpretation of those powers that Trump and his attorneys have been proffering in recent days.

Among the historically relevant cases and precedents referenced by Shugerman today: United States v. Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton v. Paula Jones, and even the more recent case of Rod Blagojevich, who, Trump recently said, he was considering pardoning after the disgraced Illinois Governor was convicted for trying to sell off the vacant U.S. Senate seat left by Barack Obama when he became President. "It's no accident that Trump is talking about pardoning [Blagojevich]," argues Shugerman, detailing how Trump sees him as unfairly convicted for simply using his constitutional powers, "even with a bribe, because that's just politics as normal. It's an incredibly cynical move."

"Just because the Constitution gives someone the power to do something, it doesn't mean they can use it for whatever purpose they want," he tells me. "Even if you have five good reasons for doing something, but one illegal reason, that illegal reason still makes it illegal."

"The Constitution says 'the President shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed'," Shugerman notes, while explaining why many of the current arguments being made by Team Trump may work effectively for propaganda purposes, but appear to have little legal basis or precedent, particularly while describing that a President would be acting "faithlessly" by pardoning himself. But, even if that happens, he says, he is confident (more so than I) that state prosecutors who are unbound by federal pardons, will pick up the prosecutorial ball against Trump and his cohorts.

[Update 6/5/2018: Shugerman and more than a dozen other distinguished constitutional law experts outline their case against Trump's expansive pardon powers claim in a letter to Trump's Whitehouse attorneys now posted here.]

Shugerman also describes the "bombshell" disclosure from that newly revealed letter from Trump's lawyers, in their admission that the President "dictated" the false written response from Don Jr. after the disclosure of the infamous June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Russian nationals to receive "dirt" on Hillary Clinton.

Also on today's show...

  • Republican House Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy --- believed to be the front-runner to become the next Speaker of the House if the GOP maintains control of the chamber this November --- refused to respond to CNN's on-air questions over the weekend about the Trump attorneys' concession that they and the White House had lied to the public about the infamous 2016 Trump Tower meeting;
  • Despite his continuing lies and chaotic presidency, Trump remains wildly popular among Republicans, according to Gallup. As of his 500th day in office, he enjoys a higher "own party" approval rating than any other President since WWII, other than George W. Bush (following 9/11), at a similar point in their presidencies;
  • The U.S. Supreme Court allows a baker in Colorado to discriminate against a gay couple. (More on this tomorrow.)
  • Corporate CEOs are now admitting out loud that, despite record profits, a theoretically booming economy and huge recent tax cuts, they have no intention of raising pay for workers;

And, on the day before 2018 mid-term primary elections are held in eight states tomorrow, an Election Integrity author rings in to remind us that Russia isn't the only threat to vulnerable, easily-manipulated computerized election results in the U.S. --- not by a long shot...

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Guest: Alex Doukas of Oil Change Int'l; Also: Trump's trade war, Bad news for CA Repubs, Bad news for TX voters, listeners aghast at AL Sec. of State's crazy emails...
By Brad Friedman on 6/1/2018 6:43pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Both Trump in the U.S. and Trudeau in Canada have revealed schemes to prop up dying elements of the fossil fuel industry by having their respective governments spend billions "picking winners and losers," which Republicans, at least, used to pretend to abhor. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up today, however, just before Tuesday's primaries in eight states, one of them, California, announces record voter registration numbers including the fact that, for the first time, registrations for "No Party Preference" voters now outnumber registration for the Republican Party in the state.

As California has made registration far easier for voters in a number of ways, Texas continues to do the opposite. A federal court last week found the state in violation of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA or "Motor Voter Act") as well as the Constitution's Equal Protection clause, and ordered them to implement online voter registration for those who renew drivers licenses online within 45 days. Of course, TX appealed the ruling to the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, which has now temporarily blocked the lower court ruling. That is likely to block online registration for Texans until at least after the crucial 2018 midterms, as the case filed by voting rights advocates in 2016 continues to languish.

Also today, Donald Trump has managed to infuriate allies, adversaries, and even his own party, as longtime U.S. trading partners Canada, Mexico and the EU began to push back against steep tariffs imposed, as of today, by the Trump Administration on imported steel and aluminum. In response, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, for example, has announced a dollar for dollar retaliation in what is quickly turning into a full blown global trade war, likely to increase prices for Americans on many consumer goods.

At the same time, a new scheme by the Trump administration to pick winners and losers in the energy industry, by forcing electric operators to use coal and nuclear power under the pretext of a 70-year old, Cold War-era "national security" provision, was revealed today by Bloomberg News.

And, up in Canada, PM Trudeau is facing criticism after announcing his government's plan to purchase the controversial Trans Mountain pipeline from Kinder Morgan. A massive extension of the pipeline, to send dirty tar sands oils from Alberta to British Columbia for export overseas, has been long opposed by environmentalists and indigenous groups. But Trudeau's nationalization of the pipeline is meant to overcome both the protests and legal barriers.

Our guest today, ALEX DOUKAS of Oil Change International (a Canadian himself) explains what "these egregious and terrible decisions that Trump and Trudeau have taken over the last few days" mean for the U.S., Canada, and our dangerous fossil fuel future. Doukas heads up the group's Stop Funding Fossil Fuels program and observes that Trump is "setting up consumers to pay vastly more for more polluting forms of electricity, just to give handouts to his corporate cronies and his buddies in the coal industry."

That, as Trudeau, who claims to favor the reduction of fossil fuel emissions to curb global warming, has, with his plan to purchase what Doukas describes as the "doomed" Kinder Morgan pipeline, "gives the lie to the idea that the Trudeau Government is really serious about tackling climate change."

Trump and Trudeau, Doukas argues, are "actually a lot more alike than I would have hoped, because they're both willing to step in and nationalize parts of the fossil fuel industry to keep the dollars flowing to the petro-state." He adds: "Pretending that the tar sands is a long term industry, is the same thing that's happening in the U.S. --- lying to coal miners that coal is going to make a comeback, that we're going to make coal great again. It's not going to happen."

But, while he argues that Kinder Morgan, the Houston-based "successor of Enron," has "basically pulled one over on the Canadian government for a failing project they they knew wasn't going to get built," establishing the precedent of government intervention in the dying industries may come back to haunt the supporters of the petro-chemical industries in both countries.

Finally, we've received a lot of feedback following Thursday's program, in which we shared some of the insane emails [PDF] sent over the past week to me by Alabama's seemingly unbalanced Sec. of State John Merrill (R) in advance of his state's (and his own) primary elections next week. We share a bit of the response from listeners, computer experts and election integrity advocates who were, by and large, flabbergasted by Merrill's behavior, as revealed in those emails...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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Alabama's election chief lashes out in advance of midterm primaries, after previously blocking journalists, election law experts on Twitter...
By Brad Friedman on 5/31/2018 6:37pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Just days from Alabama's mid-term primaries next week --- in which Sec. of State John Merrill (R) will be on the ballot himself --- we share a wild, and often inexplicable, string of bizarre emails sent sent to me over the past week by the state's chief election official. [Audio link to show follows below.]

The weird story begins late last year, with the contentious and closely watched December U.S. Senate special election in Alabama between Republican Roy Moore and Democrat Doug Jones. On election night, following the state's computer-tallied results reported a narrow victory for Jones, Merrill inaccurately stated on CNN that "any candidate can ask for a recount and if they pay for it, they can receive a recount."

After UC Irvine's highly-regarded election law expert, Rick Hasen, noted on Twitter that Merrill appeared to be in error, that AL's state election code appeared to allow only candidates in NON-federal races to request and pay for a recount if the margin was larger than 0.5%, Merrill blocked him, rather than correct his own error or cite a different section of the state law to support his assertions. That pattern would be repeated as Merrill blocked other election law experts on Twitter.

Days later, the Secretary of State injected himself into a Twitter exchange I was having with others, to insist, repeatedly and inaccurately that Alabama's computerized paper ballot scanners "do not capture or preserve digital ballot images." In fact, they do, as made clear during a successful state court action just before the election. (My interview at the time with one of the organizers of the lawsuit is here). Merrill, however, was able to have the ruling stayed by the AL Supreme Court the night before the election. (My election day interview, with one of the plaintiff attorneys is here.)

Rather than cite evidence during the, extremely bizarre Twitter conversation [PDF], Merrill ended up blocking me there as well.

All of which brings us to last week, when a federal court in New York determined that public officials --- in that case, the President of the United States --- was in violation of the Constitution's First Amendment for blocking perceived "political opponents" on Twitter. (My interview with one of the plaintiffs in that case is here.)

Before we covered the ruling on a BradCast last week with University of Kentucky College of Law constitutional expert Joshua A. Douglas, who had also been blocked by Merrill (my interview with him on that earlier last year is here), I sought comment from the Secretary as to whether he intended to restore those he'd blocked, given the federal court ruling.

The subsequent string of bizarre emails [PDF] and phone calls I then received from the state's top election official is remarkable, and we share those on today's show, in the interest of Alabama voters who head to the polls next week.

In addition to steadfastly refusing to unblock the election law experts and journalists he's blocked on Twitter, Merrill unleashes a number of unhinged and often inexplicable rants in response to polite queries about both the Twitter blocks and whether Merrill has asked county election officials to set their vote tabulation computers to preserve scanned ballot images in the upcoming primary, in order to make public oversight of results somewhat easier.

At several points, Merrill's Deputy Chief of Staff and Communications Director John Bennett attempted to intercede via both email and phone. As I explain on the show today, the call from Bennett was very pleasant and he seemed to me, in truth, somewhat embarrassed by his boss' behavior. But he promised to get back to me after looking into both the Twitter ruling and the issue of Alabama's ES&S computer tabulation systems capturing digital ballot images. A note he sent shortly thereafter confirmed that they do. (See the PDF linked above for details.)

But, then Merrill blew things up again, with another string of emailed rants. Among the odd attacks from the emails in which the first term Sec. of State describes himself as "a nationally recognized expert in the field of elections", Merrill charges that I have a "problem...bigger than one that I have the ability to solve" (but refuses to specify what that "problem" might be), that I live with my mother (I don't), "has absolutely no idea what [I'm] talking about" (despite some 15 years of covering elections and voting systems as a journalist), and should try to "get a job with an elections program system" so I can "contribute to the discussion as an expert in the field". That's just a taste.

As noted today, I didn't even want to cover this at all, in truth, because it's largely just embarrassing for Merrill. But when I realized he was actually on the ballot next week, it seemed this was information that voters in Alabama deserved to know before making their decision. For the record, Merrill is being challenged in the Republican primary by Michael Johnson. On the Democratic side, two candidates, Heather Milam and Lula Albert-Kaigler. (She ran unsuccessfully against Merrill in 2014, though I can't find an official campaign website for her now.)

Also today: A new book by a longtime senior adviser to President Obama reportedly reveals that he feared sanctions against Russia before the 2016 election might have resulted in hacked computer tabulation systems (despite public assertions by the Administration before and after that Presidential results could not be easily manipulated by foreign attack), and election officials in a number of states are now reportedly very concerned about hacking --- or the perception that results were tampered with --- in advance of the crucial 2018 midterm elections (just as we've been warning, non-stop, for more than a decade.)

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, as climate change wreaks havoc with a number of deadly storms over the Memorial Day weekend...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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Guest: ACLU Ohio legal director Freda Levenson: Also: Hurricane Maria 70x more deadly than believed and 2018 storm season already deadly...
By Brad Friedman on 5/29/2018 6:19pm PT  

Among the stories covered on today's post-Memorial Day weekend BradCast. [Audio link to show is posted below]...

First up, some accountability news. Missouri Governor Eric Greitens (R) finally announces his resignation, after two separate indictments (one related to allegedly blackmailing a woman he has admitted to having had an affair with, and the other for unlawfully using a veterans charity contact list during his 2016 run for Governor) and after the GOP-majority legislature convened an historic special session to consider his impeachment.

Also, hit ABC sitcom reboot Roseanne is cancelled just hours after its titular star tweeted a racist comment about a longtime friend and adviser to former President Obama.

Then, why at least some of Trump's obnoxious, inaccurate, and sometimes dangerous tweets actually matter (as much as we try to avoid them). A new poll finds alarming numbers of Republicans (and, yes, Democrats!) actually buy the President's evidence-free claims that as many as 5 million fraudulent votes were cast in the 2016 Presidential election, as his new --- and similarly evidence-free --- tweets targeting Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe now claim the investigation is "rigged" and is meant for "MEDDLING with the mid-term elections now that Republicans...are taking the lead in Polls".

In fact, while there is no evidence that Mueller's probe is "rigged" or that he is "meddling" in the mid-terms, Republicans are now said to be nearly tied or even taking the lead in some generic U.S. House polling on the heels of Trump's increasingly strident and inaccurate Twitter torrent. (Here, however, is a more skeptical look at those numbers.)

Nonetheless, many Democrats still seem very confident that a "blue wave" is in the making to flip one or both chambers of Congress from GOP control this November in response to Trump, as suggested by a surge in Democratic turnout during the 2018 primaries. It should be noted, however, that there are also signs that GOP turnout is increasing as well.

All of that is before the usual GOP voter suppression kicks into high gear. To that end today, the lawsuits have begun already. Last week, a suit was filed by the League of Women Voters and others against Florida's Republican Gov. Rick Scott and his hand-picked Sec. of State Ken Detzner's refusal to allow early voting centers at public universities.

And, in Ohio, the ACLU has now filed suit against the state's Republican drawn U.S. House districts, charging that the maps, drawn up in secret by the national GOP after the 2010 Census, violate the U.S. Constitution as an extreme partisan gerrymander.

We're joined by ACLU Ohio's Legal Director FREDA LEVENSON, who explains the case, why it's taken so long to be filed after resulting in 12 GOP U.S. House members to the Democrats' 4 over each of the last three elections in the swing-state, and how related cases from other states, now pending decisions at the U.S. Supreme Court, may effect this one.

Levenson also updates us on another case awaiting a decision any day from SCOTUS, regarding Ohio Sec. of State Jon Husted (R)'s attempt to purge voters from the roles after failing to vote in two consecutive federal elections. She explains why the ACLU sees that as a violation of the National Voter Registration Act (NRVA) and how SCOTUS' ultimate decision in this case could result in similar mass voter purges being carried out in states across the country.

Finally today, a new scientific study finds that some 5,000 Puerto Ricans may have been killed by Hurricane Maria, rather than the 64 officially attributed to it, and Desi Doyen joins us with troubling details on deadly storms and flooding in Maryland and North Carolina over the holiday weekend, as subtropical storm Alberto, the first named storm of the new Atlantic hurricane season, rolls ashore days before the new season even officially begins...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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