On today's BradCast: After a months-long drought of one of our favorite guests, legal journalist MARK JOSEPH STERN of Slate returns today! And we make up for the deficit with a legal lightning round on a number of big cases being heard this and in recent weeks at the U.S. Supreme Court, as well as a number of important cases from elsewhere around the country.
Among the cases covered with Stern today: The years-long challenge to Texas Republicans' racial gerrymandering of Congressional and statehouse districts, which were struck down as unlawful by several lower courts, and Donald Trump's controversial anti-Muslim travel ban(s), which were also blocked by lower courts. The U.S. Supremes, however, may be on the verge of restoring both laws, according to Stern, despite previous findings of unconstitutionality. We also discuss the pending fate of two separate challenges to partisan gerrymandering heard recently by SCOTUS.
In both cases, Stern notes, referring to the stolen GOP majority on the Court after Obama's nominee Merrick Garland was blocked for a year, before Trump appointed Justice Neil Gorsuch: "I hope against hope that my predictions are wrong, but Republicans stole this seat for a reason."
But that's not all! We also hit several other important recent cases from federal courts around the country, which prove to offer a bit more encouraging news. Stern details the "complete train wreck" seen in a federal court in Kansas earlier this month, as their Sec. of State and top-shelf GOP "voter fraud" fraudster Kris Kobach disastrously attempted to defend his "proof of citizenship" voter registration law at trial. Kobach's humiliating effort resulted in a George W. Bush-appointed federal judge slapping him with the second of two contempt of court sanctions during the long case, and may signal, as Stern posits, the near end of the Republican Party's years-long disingenuous claims about a "voter fraud" epidemic.
"Kobach had committed a major self-own," Stern tells me. "He had gone into that trial thinking he was going to prove once and for all that 'voter fraud' was real, and he left that trial having inadvertently proved that it wasn't. He undermined all of the evidence that he had worked so hard to build up."
That, as one of Kobach's longtime colleagues in the long GOP "voter fraud" con, J. Christian Adams, finds himself as the defendant in a new lawsuit filed in Virginia by a number of U.S. citizens who were inaccurately accused by Adam's group, the Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF), in error-riddled reports titled "Alien Invasion of Virginia" and "Alien Invasion II", of committing voter fraud. Adams is accused by the lawful voters of violations of the Constitution, the Voting Rights Act, and even the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871.
"It's satisfying to see these guys have to answer in court for all that they've said and done for so long, and it's great to see the victims of their slander fighting back in such a powerful way," Stern argues.
We finish up our legal lightening round today with a case decided last week by the Supreme Court, in which Justice Gorsuch, who enjoys the seat stolen for him by Senate Republicans last year, actually joined the Court's four liberal Justices in striking down a law that allows the deportation of immigrants accused of "violent crimes". While Stern applauds Gorscuh joining the liberal justices in this case, given the vague statutory language used for defining "violent crimes", he also cautions that Gorsuch's interest here may signal a broader, more disturbing scheme down the road by Trump's far rightwing appointee.
Also today: The Trump Administration doesn't appear to do any vetting of any of their nominees for any office, it seems. Last week, Elizabeth Anne Pierce, a corporate member of a public commission created by Trump's FCC Chair Ajit Pai, purportedly to help expand broadband Internet access, was arrested on allegations of fraud to the tune of $250 million for forging signatures on contracts on behalf of her startup high-speed fiber-optic company. And, on Capitol Hill today, Navy Admiral Ronny Jackson, Trump's personal physician turned nominee to head the Dept. of Veterans Affairs, comes under fire from Senators of both parties, regarding his complete lack of experience for such a role, but also for reports of fostering a "hostile work environment", "excessive drinking on the job" and "improperly dispensing meds" among other things. In the bargain, today at the White House, Trump appeared to begin the process of throwing Jackson --- who he reportedly had to convince to accept the nomination to head the VA and its 360,000 employees --- under the nearest bus.
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