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...

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

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