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Latest Featured Reports | Monday, November 30, 2020
Sunday Leftovers Toons
Don't worry. There's still plenty of Trump Kool-Aid left to help wash down PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best toons...
Talking Turnout, Treason & Turkeys: 'BradCast' 11/25/20
Guest Host Nicole Sandler with author/journalist Ari Berman and Law Professor/author Carlton F.W. Larson...
Why Biden Must Look Both Forward AND Back:
'BradCast' 11/24/20
Guest: Const'l attorney John Bonifaz on Trump's failed coup, need for accountability; Also: PA, NV certify Biden victories; Overdue corrections; What we're thankful for...
'Green News Report' 11/24/20
  w/ Brad & Desi
Biden taps Kerry for climate, elevates role to Nat. Sec. Council; GM dumps Trump for EVs; Trump rolls back more enviro safety rules, denies disaster aid to PA...
Previous GNRs: 11/19/20 - 11/17/20 - Archives...
The Crazy Continues from the 'Coup Klutz Clan': 'BradCast' 11/23/20
MI certifies Biden win; Judge tosses Team Trump PA suit; GSA begins transition; 'Dominion / Venezuela' conspiracy lawyer tossed under bus...
Federal Court Slams Door On Trump Effort to Block PA Certification of Biden Win
Conservative Judge shreds plea 'to disenfranchise almost 7 million voters' with no evidence 'speculative accusations'...
Sunday Turkey Week Toons
PDiddie's latest delicious feast (sour grapes included!) of the week's best political toons...
Team Trump Bastardizes 2010 BRAD BLOG Exclu to Declare a 'Dominion CONSPIRACY!': 'BradCast' 11/20/20
What they get right and wrong | Also: Randall D. Eliason on pressuring Trump's legal firms...
COVID Surging Most in GOP-Led States; Trump Still Scheming to Steal Election: 'BradCast' 11/19/20
Warnings, heartbreaking milestone before holiday; GOPers try to block certification...
'Green News Report' 11/19/20
UK accelerates gas car phase-out; U.S. carmakers knew 50 years ago about global warming, lied about it; PLUS: San Francisco phasing out fossil fuels in new buildings...
GA SoS Admits 'Audit' Can't Legally Change Results: 'BradCast' 11/18/20
Guest: GA count observer Jeanne Dufort; Also: Trump targets minority votes as 'fraud'; Rudy claims PA Bush v. Gore violation, then violates it in WI...
'Green News Report' 11/17/20
Hurricane Iota slams Nicaragua; Trump Admin rushes oil leases for ANWR; PLUS: Biden meets with business and labor on climate and economy...
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...


Several victories for pro-democracy forces in MN, TX; FL Guv's registration hacked in voter database; VT Sec. of State demands correction from SCOTUS following Kavanaugh's error-filled WI opinion...
By Brad Friedman on 10/29/2020 7:05pm PT  

As I discuss near the top of today's BradCast, we are now in what amounts to a Cold Civil War on Democracy in this nation. The greatest direct threat we have ever faced to our Constitutional Republic since the Civil War is now playing out in our ongoing election. [Audio link to show is posted below this summary.]

As it turns out, that threat to what Joe Biden describes as "the soul of our nation", does not come from a foreign power, but from the President of the United States himself and his party of henchmen and supporters who are now attacking the very core of our Republic: the right to vote and to have that vote counted as cast. That right is now under direct assault in a way not seen since the Jim Crow era. And while the GOP has been using the guise of preventing "voter fraud" to wage similar battles in recent years, they aren't even trying to hide their direct assault on democracy anymore. They are simply using every (so far, peaceful) means possible --- legal and extra-legal --- to try and prevent legal voters from voting and lawfully cast ballots from being counted.

Unfortunately, they have packed enough stooges onto their stolen U.S. Supreme Court at this point, that they may pull it off...unless the pro-democracy forces simply overwhelm them between now and the close of polls next Tuesday night. Get busy, people. Only the fate of the Republic and...yes, human civilization, as Desi Doyen highlights yet again in our Green News Report today, are at stake.

Among the stories reported on today's show, as our trench warfare coverage continues...

  • Good news for democracy in Minnesota! A federal judge has ordered a mercenary contractor hiring armed para-militia to stalk polling places to stand down after violating federal voter intimidation laws. The company, Atlas Aegis, must also reveal who has been funding their program. The case is a victory for plaintiffs including the Minnesota chapters of the Council on American-Islamic Relations and League of Women Voters, as well as the group Free Speech for People (FSFP) whose lawyers brought the case. We spoke with FSFP attorney Ron Fein last week on the show, the day after the voter intimidation suit was filed in federal court;
  • Good news for voters in Texas! A Trump-appointed federal judge has found Gov. Greg Abbott's exemption for voters and pollworkers to his statewide mask mandate to be in violation of the Voting Rights Act. Masks must be worn inside of all polling places across the Lone Star state of today's ruling. The victory comes not a moment too soon, after several polling officials have already become sickened, poll sites were closed due to sick workers, and maskless poll watchers were said to have been using their presence to intimidate minority voters. That, in a state where the Republicans who have long controlled it went all the way to the Supreme Court to deny almost all voters under the age of 65 the right to request an absentee ballot due to fear of the spiking coronavirus pandemic. It's also another victory --- and a reversal of fortunes --- for the good folks at FSFP, including Senior Counsel Courtney Hostetler, who spoke with us on the show about their case in September, when its outlook then appeared grim;
  • More good news for democracy in Texas! A $31 million effort to improve access to the polls in the nation's third-largest voting jurisdiction, Harris County, which includes Houston, appears to have paid off big time. NBC News reports that more voters have now cast ballots there during early voting than were cast in the entire 2016 election. The increased turnout is thanks to expanded and innovative voting options, such as Early Voting sites that stay open later, some that stay open for 24 hours, and drive-thru polling places. The County's stunning turnaround in a state with notoriously low voter turnout comes after Dems won every countywide office in 2018, increased the elections budget from $4 million under GOP control to $31 million now, and with the hiring of innovative, 33-year old County Clerk Chris Hollins in late summer. Naturally, state Republicans have been challenging virtually every innovation to make it easier for voters to vote in the state's largest county. And while Gov. Greg Abbott has succeeded in limiting ballot drop-off locations to just one per county (from a dozen previously planned for sprawling Harris County, which is larger than Rhode Island), GOP attempts to block drive-thru voting have been denied by the state's all-Republican Supreme Court. Another new case was filed by Republicans this week, however, seeking to actually invalidate the votes of more than 100,000 voters who lawfully cast drive-thru votes during Early Voting.
  • On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court's issued an appalling ruling that blocks tens of thousands of lawfully cast mail-in ballots postmarked by Election Day from being counted in Wisconsin if they arrive after Election Day due to, for example, slowdowns in U.S. Postal Service delivery by Trump's new Postmaster General. Criticism from legal experts and voting rights advocates of the embarrassingly error-riddled concurring opinion filed by GOP operative turned GOP activist Justice Brett Kavanaugh was swift. We discussed that factually deficient and laughable concurrence with Slate legal journalist Mark Joseph Stern in detail on yesterday's show. Among the egregious errors in the opinion was Kavanaugh's citing of Vermont's election laws. The Sec. of State of Vermont has now written a letter to the Court in response, demanding that the opinion be corrected to include actual facts about the state's voting laws, instead of the phony claims Kavanaugh made as he works toward using his lifetime appointment on the Court to steal this year's election on behalf of the man who appointed him to it;
  • Finally, as mentioned, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as a record fifth hurricane in a single season slams storm-weary Louisiana today; Trump opens the nation's last protected tropical rain forest to commercial logging; China and Japan vault ahead of the U.S. in their pledges to reach net-zero carbon emissions; and the case is made for Joe Biden to expand the Supreme Court if we are to have any chance of combating our swiftly worsening climate crisis.
  • P.S. The charming animated video of the Lincoln Project "Fairy Tale" we played at the top of today's show is here.

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's Mark Joseph Stern on Kavanaugh's terrifying, error-riddled opinion in the case that blocks WI from counting thousands of timely cast mail-in ballots; Also: Trump's very VERY bad day...
By Brad Friedman on 10/28/2020 7:16pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It was a very very bad day for Donald J. Trump and for his odds of winning re-election. At least on paper. Don't get too excited just yet. (But please do vote, ASAP, if you have not done so already! And if you're voting by mail-in ballot, do not mail it in! Deliver it in person, at this point!) [Audio link to full show is posted beneath summary.]

Among the very bad news for our failed President on Wednesday...

  • 'Anonymous' was revealed to have been the Chief of Staff of his own Dept. of Homeland Security, who has now endorsed Joe Biden;
  • The stock market --- the only thing that Trump has left to crow about --- plummeted on concerns about the startling third-peak surge in the U.S. COVID pandemic, thanks to Trump's bungled response, with the Dow falling more than 950 points;
  • Hackers defaced the Trump Campaign website;
  • The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy released an embarrassing document detailing the Trump Administration's "accomplishments", leading off with "Ending the COVID-19 pandemic"! If you have any doubts about that, they quote noticed science and technologist Ivanka Trump as supporting evidence;
  • 20 former Republican U.S. Attorneys, serving in Presidential administrations from Eisenhower to George W. Bush came out with their "strongest endorsement" for...Joe Biden. (So much for Trump as the self-proclaimed "law and order President");
  • Hundreds of Trump supporters were left stranded by the Trump Campaign in frigid temps on an airstrip in Omaha, Nebraska on Tuesday night, after Trump's latest super-spreader rally. Seven supporters were hospitalized "with a variety of medical conditions" as they waited in the dark until after midnight for buses to arrive to drive them back three miles to their cars;
  • And, all the while, the polling both nationally and in battleground states continues to appear bleak for Trump, including one (frankly, hard-to-believe) new poll from ABC News/Washington Post finding Biden up by 17 points in Wisconsin.

As noted, it was a very bad day for Donald Trump's reelection effort. At least in theory. But he still has a few Trump Cards that he believes --- with good reason --- he may be able to play at his stolen and corrupt U.S. Supreme Court. That effort will involve preventing timely cast ballots from being tabulated at all following Election Day.

If the concurrence filed in a Wisconsin case on Monday night by former GOP operative turned GOP activist Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, however, is any indication of how this scheme will work, you should plan to either laugh or cry yourself to death in the coming days.

We're joined today once again by Slate's brilliant legal reporter MARK JOSEPH STERN to explain which of those two options is more likely at this point. Or, as he says today, "be the 'Angel of Doom' on your show, here to deliver some bad news from the heavens and generally terrify you about what's coming from our Supreme Court in the coming weeks and months."

On Monday night, the Supremes issued an order that blocked a lower federal court's ruling allowing the counting of mail-in ballots postmarked in the Badger State by Election Day that arrive up to six days after November 3rd. The opinion was a party-line 5 to 3 vote, with Kavanaugh issuing an extraordinary 18-page concurrence [PDF] with his majority vote to nullify potentially hundreds of thousands of legitimate ballots. The concurrence, however, was full of demonstrable, laughable, egregious errors of fact, including the claim that states like to declare winners on Election Night (zero of them actually do, as Stern correctly notes) and that counting ballots after Election Day might "potentially flip the results of an election."

Since elections are never certified by states on Election Night --- only the media declare "winners", in that sense --- official state results cannot be "flipped" with the counting of ballots after Election Day. It takes anywhere from days to weeks to tally ballots and certify winners even when we're not in the middle of an horrific pandemic that has resulted in an all-time record use of vote-by-mail options across the country.

That said, as insane as Kavanaugh's opinion was, both he and Trump's first stolen Supreme Court pick, Neil Gorsuch, offered a "totally deranged attempt", as Stern described it, to hew to a rejected opinion from the Bush v. Gore case in 2000 that handed the Presidency to George W. Bush. Though it came from a minority of Justices at the time --- in an opinion that specifically said it could never be used as a precedent in any other case --- it does now seem to be one of the Trump Cards that could be played to try and steal this year's election.

As Stern explains today, the portion of Bush v. Gore cited by Kavanaugh (inaccurately claiming it was from a unanimous majority opinion when it was neither unanimous nor in the majority!) was so radical at the time that even Justices Sandra Day O'Connor and Anthony Kennedy refused to concur with it. Nonetheless, incredibly enough, there are now three Republican Party attorneys who worked on that Florida case in 2000 on behalf of Bush --- John Roberts, Kavanaugh and now Amy Coney Barrett --- actually sitting on the Court as Justices. That means anything could now happen, depending on how things work out as of next Tuesday night. So buckle up, as Stern details why all of this could come into play week and in the future, "because if this comes down to a few thousand or a few hundred ballots --- hoo boy --- it's going to make Bush v. Gore look like a warmup act for what's coming next."

We also get some reaction from Stern on Biden's recently stated position to call for a bi-partisan panel of Constitutional scholars to make recommendations for Court reform and/or expansion (presuming Biden wins and Dems take back the Senate), and a federal court's rejection this week of the DoJ's absurd attempt to dismiss a defamation lawsuit against Trump, filed in NY state court by columnist E. Jean Carroll who alleges he raped her in the 1990's.

Finally, we use a few minutes to name the "winner" of our recent bumper music trivia "contest" from Monday, when our guest was Ion Sancho (the legendary former Florida election official who oversaw the aborted 2000 "recount") and then, just in case you needed any more inspiration today to help ensure a landslide next week, we close with a parody song performed by Lauren Myers with lyrics written by our friend and regular guest-host Nicole Sandler!

Oh, and P.S., if you want to share that absolutely bone chilling Lincoln Project ad we opened today's show with, it's right here.

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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Trump pretends his way out of the hospital, lies again about COVID, gets blocked on social media, is sinking in the polls and dragging his party down with him. No wonder they need to suppress the vote...
By Brad Friedman on 10/6/2020 6:32pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The media are still falling for it. Happily, the American people (at least those who aren't fully brain-poisoned) don't seem to be playing that game anymore. [Audio link to full show follows below.]

Among the stories covered on today's show...

  • The corporate mainstream media now know how they are being played by Trump, but they keep playing along anyway. We open with a short (or maybe not that short) rant about how to avoid being gaslighted by this President and his enablers, including his lying personal White House physician, the bought and paid for sycophants and psychopaths who work for the government or for his political party and lie on his behalf, and his brain-addled supporters who support his lies, even when he pretends to support things they all spent years previously pretending to oppose. And, of course, the media who still make all of those lies possible. Both Charlie Chaplin and off-shore oil-drilling make their way into this rant. You'll need to tune in to find out why;
  • Facebook finally bothers to take down at least one lie posted by the President regarding COVID-19 and the flu, as scientists and infectious disease experts fume about Trump's dangerous lies regarding that and his own precarious physical (and mental?) health amid his infection and dubious treatment for it;
  • In some brighter new, new polling finds Trump is receiving no "sympathy bounce" from his illness, as Americans have absolutely no confidence in his handling of the pandemic and believe he has only himself to blame for becoming sick;
  • New national polling following Trump's embarrassing performance in last week's off-the-rails Presidential debate (yes, that was only last week!) is beginning to look devastating for his reelection odds. A potential outlier of a poll published by NBC News and Wall Street Journal over the weekend finding a 14-point lead for Joe Biden among registered voters (53% to 39% over Trump) appears not to have been an outlier at all. New polling from CNN today of likely voters (which should theoretically find a small margin between the two candidates), finds the former Vice President ahead of Trump by an extraordinary 16 points (57% to 41%). Of course, those are national numbers and we do not run national elections in this country. But Biden is currently leading or tied by similar, if smaller, margins in pretty much all of the swing-states now, and even in a number of states not previously regarded as swing-states;
  • Trump's disastrous polling numbers also appear to bringing down his party's candidates in all sorts of areas of the country. Daily Kos Elections today shifted their ratings for 10 different House and Senate races all towards the Democrats. We focus today on two, specifically: The U.S. Senate race in Kansas (Kansas!) where former moderate Republican state Senator Barbara Bollier is giving her Republican opponent, Rep. Roger Marshall, a run for his money (and for the money the GOP would rather be spending elsewhere) in the contest for that state's open U.S. Senate seat this year. DKos Elections has now moved that race from "Likely R" to "Lean R". And in South Carolina (South Carolina!), where recent polling appears to now show a toss-up between disgraced three-term Republican Trump sycophant Sen. Lindsey Graham and his Democratic challenger Jaime Harrison. It's another race where Republicans are being forced to spend huge sums of money, while still being outspent by Harrison and his supporters. That race has also been conservatively shifted by dKos from "Likely R" to "Lean R", though it sure looks like Graham could be in real trouble....if voters in SC are allowed to vote...;
  • It is, in no small part, because of that trouble for Graham in SC that Republicans had to go all the way to their stolen U.S. Supreme Court to overturn lower court rulings that had waived witness requirements for mail-in ballots, due to the pandemic. State lawmakers had waived the requirement themselves for the state's primaries earlier this year, but re-imposed it for the general election for some reason, now that the pandemic is even worse. The lower courts ordered it waived again for public safety reasons, but SCOTUS, on Monday night, reimposed it, claiming it was too close to an election to change the rules. (That is the so-called "Purcell Principle" which we explain again on today's show. You may be hearing that doctrine cited quite a bit in the coming days.) That, even though many voters may have already sent in ballots without witness signatures as previously allowed by the lower courts. While the Supremes allowed (only) two days from yesterday's ruling for witness-free ballots to arrive by mail and still be counted, three of the Court's rightwing Justices (Thomas, Scalia and Gorsuch) went on record to say that if it was up to them, they would have tossed out all of those already-voted ballots entirely;
  • Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with some disturbing news about yet another monster hurricane heading toward Louisiana (the fourth storm this year to make landfall there, if it does, in an already record year); grim news about California's wildfires; but some great news out of Poland and some very cool news from European airplane manufacturer Airbus!...

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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On her historic, nation-changing legacy and the unspeakable GOP hypocrisy over her replacement; Also: Callers ring in on what Dems must do next and on expanding the stolen SCOTUS...
By Brad Friedman on 9/21/2020 6:30pm PT  

On today's BradCast: I suspect you know what we'll be covering. [Audio link to show follows below.]

But, briefly today, before we get to the titanic battle over what may happen in the next 43 days before Election Day, we begin with a few words of warning from Desi Doyen on the latest incoming Hurricanes/Tropical Storms. In the most immediate case, Tropical Storm Beta (so named because we've run out of alphabetical names in this record, climate change-fueled storm season), is set to make landfall near flood-prone Houston on Monday night before a very slow and dangerously wet roll up the Gulf Coast toward New Orleans.

But every tragedy and disaster steps on another one these days (even as our COVID-19 disaster has now resulted in at least 200,000 Americans dead, and a Trump Administration that has politicized the CDC so much that once world-respected federal agency removed its warning that the coronavirus is airborne from its website today, with little explanation.) Despite all of that, we are forced to move in short order to the story of the day --- and perhaps of the next 43 days or more --- the death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg from metastatic pancreatic cancer, as announced on Friday evening.

We discuss her extraordinary historic legacy both on the Court and before she became a federal jurist 40 years ago, all too briefly today, as the fight over filling her vacant seat began within seconds of her death being announced late last week. Nearly as quickly, Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell vowed to hold a vote in the Senate on Donald Trump's nominee this year --- either before or after Election Day --- despite spending a full year in 2016 disingenuously claiming that "the American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice" after Justice Antonin Scalia's death in February of 2016. Back then, Obama nominated centrist jurist Merrick Garland a full 237 days before the Presidential election, while McConnell --- holding fast to his dishonest line that the "vacancy should not filled until we have a new President" --- refused to even hold a hearing on the nomination, much less an up or down vote on the Senate floor.

But now, in this case, following the death of a Democratic appointee with a Republican now in the White House, just 46 days before the 2020 Presidential election, McConnell and most of his Republican caucus in the Senate appear ready to move ahead with their rank hypocrisy at lightning speed. That includes Sen. Judiciary Chair Lindsey Graham, who repeatedly said over the years since 2016 that he would never support seating a new SCOTUS Justice during a Presidential year --- and that we should remember his comments and hold him to them, if the need ever arises. Nonetheless, with the death of RBG on Friday, the unmatched world-class hypocrite Graham declared the very next day, on Saturday, that he would indeed "support" Donald Trump "in any effort to move forward regarding the recent vacancy created by the passing of Justice Ginsburg."

It appears it will now be up to the voters of South Carolina to hold Graham accountable. According to the latest polling in the state, he is said to be tied in a tough re-election challenge this year against Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Jaime Harrison.

So far, just two Republican Senators have gone on record to say they would not support a vote to replace Ginsburg before this year's election (does that mean they'd support it afterward, even if Biden wins? Unknown at the moment.) Those two are Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Sen. Susan Collins of Maine. Collins is also facing a tough reelection battle in her own home state this year against Democrat Sara Gideon. While there are boatloads of Republican Senators who previously vowed they'd not support the seating of a new Justice in 2020, it remains to be seen which, if any, will be able to avoid an appalling, Lindsey Graham-like flip-flop. As of now, just two more Republican Senators would have to dig deep enough to find the courage and intellectual honesty to do the right thing in order to stop any appointment until after the next President is determined by the American people.

There are a number of other possible factors that may come in to play in the days ahead. For example, the potential election of Democratic nominee Mark Kelly over Sen. Martha McSally in Arizona on November 3rd, in what is actually a Special Election in that contest, could result in Kelly's seating in November, instead of January with the new Congress. If that came to pass, it could mean that just one more Republican vote could stop this charade. There is also the possibility that Democrats could file another impeachment (or two) in the U.S. House to force a trial in the Senate to slow down the nomination battle over whoever Trump nominates to fill RBG's seat.

And, of course, no matter what happens, Democrats need to begin making plans to expand the number of seats on the stolen U.S. Supreme Court NO MATTER WHAT happens with the GOP's attempt to ram through another rightwinger to build on their ALREADY STOLEN Court majority.

And with that, we open the phone lines today for thoughts on RBG's legacy and, much more so, what Democrats should and/or must do now...

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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Unlikely either a grand jury, Congress or the public will gain access to any incriminating financial records prior to the Presidential Election
UPDATE 8/4/20: Subsequent court orders/legal filings suggest NY grand jury may get records by September. Will there be an October Surprise?...
By Ernest A. Canning on 7/9/2020 1:23pm PT  


"Two hundred years ago, a great jurist of our Court [Chief Justice John Marshall] established that no citizen, not even the President, is categorically above the common duty to produce evidence when called upon in a criminal proceeding. We reaffirm that principle and hold that the President is neither absolutely immune from state criminal subpoenas seeking his private papers nor entitled to a heightened standard of need." --- Chief Justice John Roberts, 7 - 2 majority opinion in Trump v. Vance, July 9, 2020

In Trump v. Vance, the President of the United States sued to block Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance's subpoena of Donald Trump's accounting firm Mazar's USA. The subpoena seeks financial records that may expose criminal violations of NY law. Those potential violations include, but are not limited to, the sworn allegations presented by Trump's former attorney, Michael Cohen, that the President falsified loan applications and other financial documents.

The fact that the Supreme Court, as observed by Justice Brett Kavanaugh in his concurring opinion in Vance, "unanimously" agreed that "a President does not possess absolute immunity from a state criminal subpoena" is great news for those who are concerned about the threat the Trump administration poses to the survival of the rule of law. However, the Court's decision to remand the case to the District Court where President Donald J. Trump "may," per the majority opinion, "raise further arguments as appropriate" makes it unlikely that a New York grand jury will acquire the potentially incriminating records that might otherwise justify the issuance of a criminal indictment prior to the November 3. 2020 election.

Given the majority's conclusion, in Vance --- that the President's right to object to compliance with a criminal subpoena is no greater than the rights enjoyed by all private citizens --- it's unlikely Trump will prevail at the District Court level. However, the remand will allow Trump's legal counsel to seek further delays via stay requests associated with future appeals.

In a companion case, Trump v. Mazars USA, LLP --- in which Trump sued to block several Congressional Committees from obtain Trump's tax and other financial documents as part of their legislative oversight --- the Court vacated a District Court order compelling Trump to turn over financial records to Congress. Although the Court, in this case, left open the possibility that the District Court could again order the same financial records to be turned over to Congress after careful consideration of Separation of Powers issues. In this case as well, it is now highly unlikely that the records would be forthcoming to Congress prior to the Election.

The net result is that the Supreme Court has probably deprived the U.S. electorate of access to potentially incriminating financial records prior to the pivotal Presidential Election. That doesn't bode well for small "d" democratic accountability, which can only be accomplished when the electorate is "well informed". That's especially ironic given that even President Richard M. Nixon conceded that We the People have a right "to know whether or not their President is a crook."

UPDATE 8/4/20: Subsequent court orders, an expedited briefing schedule and legal filings suggest that a Manhattan grand jury may actually receive the withheld financial records by early September.

In a July 16 order [PDF], U.S. District Court Judge Victor Moreno adopted the parties' agreed upon expedited schedule, to wit: Trump was to file a second amended complaint by July 27. Vance could answer or move to dismiss by Aug. 3. Vance timely filed a motion to dismiss [PDF]. Trump has until Aug. 10 to file a brief in opposition to the motion to dismiss; Vance until Aug. 14 to file a reply.

On July 17, the Supreme Court issued an order granting Vance's request that the Supreme Court's July 9 decision be effective immediately --- as opposed to the usual 25 days after it was issued.

In his July 16 order, Judge Morero recited the following with respect to Vance's legal posture:

Each of [the President's] potential arguments must be understood first and foremost in the context of the Supreme Court's rejection of a heightened standard for the issuance of a standard of a state criminal subpoena to a sitting President. While the District Attorney does not contest that the President should have an opportunity to advance additional "appropriate" claims supported by factual allegations, consistent with the Supreme Court's opinion, his challenges to the Mazars subpoena must be considered in light of the principle that a President making such challenges stands "in nearly the same situation with any other individual."[Citation]. The President's proposal attempts to elide that standard; indeed, [he] expressly invites this Court to conduct a heightened-scrutiny inquiry drawn from the concurring opinion that was utterly rejected by the majority decision. Equally important, it overlooks the fact that he has already substantially advanced similar allegations in the [First] Amended Complaint, which this Court rejected.

The President states that he may argue that the subpoena "is motivated by a desire to harass or is conducted in bad faith…or that the subpoena is meant to 'manipulate' his policy decisions or to retaliate against him for official acts.' But this Court has already found there was no demonstrated bad faith, harassment, or any other unusual circumstance that would call for equitable relief. And this Court has rejected the President's claim that there was any evidence of a 'secondary motive' that goes beyond good faith enforcement of criminal laws.

In his erudite motion to dismiss Trump's Second Amended Complaint, which was co-authored by Walter E. Dellinger, III, a Duke Law Professor who had previously served as an Assistant Attorney General and as the head of the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel, Vance lays out the reasons why the Second Amended Complaint must be dismissed and the records promptly produced.

Trump's newest filing, Vance asserts, merely "repeats a conspiratorial assertion [the President] has unsuccessfully pressed for nearly a year to all three levels of the federal courts." The only "new" allegation is the claim the subpoena is over-broad because it seeks financial records dating back to 2011. This "new" allegation is based upon the factually erroneous assumption that Vance's investigation is confined to the 2016 "hush money" payments that were the source of the allegations leveled by Michael Cohen, the President's former lawyer. (Cohen was convicted for his role in the "hush money" scheme.)

In actuality, Vance points out, the subpoena goes back to 2011 because the grand jury, on the basis of publicly revealed evidence, is investigating "potentially improper financial transactions by a variety of individuals and entities over a period of years."

In the motion, Vance based assertion on Cohen's Congressional testimony and cited Washington Post and Wall Street Journal articles. Turns out, the Manhattan DA has additional information in his possession, according to a The New York Times article that was published one day after Vance filed the motion to dismiss. Last year, Deutsche Bank turned over the Trump organization's financial records to Vance's office pursuant to a subpoena. Thus, it's likely Vance already has evidence in his possession to support the assertion, set forth in the motion, that the NY grand jury subpoenas of financial records held by Mazars relate to decades-long "alleged insurance and bank fraud by the Trump Organization and its officers".

Given Judge Marrero's rejections of the President's prior identical legal arguments, and the already significant delay incurred, it's likely that, following a hearing, a new order compelling compliance with the subpoena will soon issue. It's unlikely further stays will be granted. Thus, it's likely, a NY grand jury will receive the financial records by early September. If those records are incriminating, the intriguing question is to whether Vance, who is not hampered by DOJ rules against initiating an action, could promptly seek and deliver an October Surprise in the form of an unprecedented indictment of a sitting President.

* * *
Ernest A. Canning is a retired attorney, author, and Vietnam Veteran (4th Infantry, Central Highlands 1968). He previously served as a Senior Advisor to Veterans For Bernie. Canning has been a member of the California state bar since 1977. In addition to a juris doctor, he has received both undergraduate and graduate degrees in political science. Follow him on twitter: @cann4ing




Guest: Mark Joseph Stern on new Court opinions on 'faithless electors', Obamacare and the GOP's ongoing (and now deadly) war on voting...
By Brad Friedman on 7/7/2020 6:52pm PT  

We've got a bit of a roller coaster today between good news and terrible news on today's BradCast. But that's life in the times of Trump and the coronavirus, I guess. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

First up today, the COVID-19 crisis continues to gravely worsen in the U.S., with new record infections and hospitalizations now pretty much every day for the past month. Despite the increasingly desperate concerns expressed by health experts, especially for hotspots where Governors reopened states far too early, some Republicans from the President of the United States on down are calling for measures that will only increase infection rates, hospitalizations and, yes, death.

Florida's Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran on Monday, for example, declared that all public schools must reopen next month to all students for in-person classes five days a week. His emergency order notes that reopening schools is critical to "a return to Florida hitting its full economic stride". That, despite more than 200,000 confirmed cases and new record daily infection rates each day for weeks now in the Sunshine State.

At the same time, in Washington D.C. on Tuesday, Donald Trump held a White House event to demand the reopening of schools and to praise Florida's Governor Ron DeSantis for a "terrific job" in ordering them to open. Trump claimed that schools have been closed elsewhere for "political reasons" and added that "we are very much going to put pressure on Governors and everybody else to open the schools." This is now a death march being led by the President of the United States.

But if Republican politicians are fine sending children and their teachers and their families to their potential deaths, how do you think federal judges appointed by Trump or sympathetic to his political cause are going to react to measures being taken to try and make voting safer for Americans on November 3rd? We're joined again today by Slate's ace legal reporter MARK JOSEPH STERN to discuss Monday's opinions released by the U.S. Supreme Court, as well as a disturbing pattern of rulings at both SCOTUS and on the appellate level over the past two weeks that bodes darkly for this year's crucial Presidential election.

First, Monday's new opinions: The Court decided unanimously that states may prevent so-called "faithless electors" from casting their vote in the Electoral College for someone other than the Presidential candidate chosen by the state's popular vote. The issue stemmed from two combined cases of "faithless electors" in 2016, one of which was brought by plaintiff Michael Baca against Colorado. Baca appeared on The BradCast in December of 2016 to explain the reasons for his planned "faithless" vote in the Electoral College that year, before he was later prevented by the state from casting it.

While that opinion, written by Justice Elana Kagan received most of the media attention on Monday, another opinion handed down by the Court that day is likely of far greater import. The Court's 6 to 3 decision, with Justice Brett Kavanaugh writing for the majority in a case concerning robocalls made to cell phones, actually reveals some very encouraging news regarding a challenge to the Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare) that will be heard next session by the Court. Kavanaugh's opinion, striking down one element of a robocall law as unconstitutional while upholding the rest of the law, suggests the challenge to Obamacare by GOP-controlled states and the White House --- seeking to strike down the entire health care law as unconstitutional based on the constitutionality of one single, now meaningless, provision --- is likely to fail.

As Kavanaugh crucially noted in his opinion, in words that will be remembered next year during the ACA case: "Constitutional litigation is not a game of gotcha against Congress, where litigants can ride a discrete constitutional flaw in a statute to take down the whole, otherwise constitutional statute."

"It's important to note that seven justices agreed with [Kavanaugh] on that particular point," Stern tells me. "Only Thomas and Gorsuch disagreed."

And with that seemingly very good news out of the way, we turn to a flurry of recent decisions by both SCOTUS and a number of federal appeals courts that are extremely concerning and revealing as to how right-wing controlled federal courts will be dealing with voter suppression cases and measures intended to make voting easier during the pandemic this November. Recent court rulings in cases out of Florida, Wisconsin, Alabama and Texas, as Stern explains, are very troubling indeed and suggest we could be in for no small amount of chaos, disenfranchisement and, yes, deadly disease, in this year's critical general elections.

There are more opinions to come from the Court before they are finished for the summer. Quips Stern darkly today: "We've got a handful left, and we will see if the Supreme Court breaks our democracy before the end of the term."

Finally, we close with Desi Doyen and our latest Green News Report, with a bit more news out of SCOTUS and lower federal courts, including some surprisingly very good news on several controversial oil and gas pipelines!...

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

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Guest: Farmer, teacher, Marine Lt. Col. turned candidate Mike Broihier; Also: Latest in Minneapolis protests over police killing of George Floyd...
By Brad Friedman on 5/29/2020 6:32pm PT  

It has been a harrowing 24 hours since getting off air on Thursday night, with protests exploding in major cities across the country overnight in response to the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. On today's BradCast, we cover the latest developments including the arrest, just before airtime, of Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin, seen in videos taking a knee on Floyd's neck as the 46-year old African-American security guard pleaded for his life. We are also joined by a progressive Democratic U.S. Senate candidate from Kentucky hoping to unseat Mitch McConnell this year, and to discuss the mysterious shooting of protesters in Louisville last night. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of summary below.]

First, we cover several aspects of the Minneapolis protest, including the appalling tweet by the President of the United States which earned him yet another warning lable from Twitter as he actually seemed to call for shooting of protesters Thursday night, using a phrase first uttered by a racist Florida sheriff at the height of the 1960s civil right movement; the on-air arrest of a black Latino CNN reporter as he was covering the protests in Minnesota, while his white colleague, one block away, was politely allowed by police to continue reporting; and some of the other protests around the country in response to the latest appalling police killing in the Twin Cities.

One of those protests was in Louisville, Kentucky, where 26-year old African-American emergency medical technician Breonna Taylor was killed by police inside her own home after cops broke down the door in the middle of the night in mid-March. That protest, like many of the others across the country overnight Thursday and Friday morning, turned violent and 7 protesters in the crowd were suddenly shot, leaving at least one of them in critical condition today. The Louisville Mayor says no officers discharged a weapon last night and that no police were shot. So who shot the protesters and why?

We're joined today by MIKE BROIHIER, a Kentucky farmer, teacher and retired U.S. Marine Lt. Colonel who is vying for the Democratic U.S. Senate nomination in hopes of ousting Republican Senator and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in November. The Senate primary election, with about 10 Democrats running for the nod, will be held on June 23rd.

The progressive Broihier offers his thoughts on this week's protests around the country and in Louisville on Thursday night where the still-mysterious shootings took place just days after rightwing anti-lockdown and gun rights protesters hung an effigy of the state's Democratic Governor Andy Beshear outside the State Capitol on Sunday. Broihier, who calls the threat to Beshear an act of "terrorism", ties that incident to the Bluegrass State's long history of institutionalized racism and lynchings. "You can't deny the image," he says. "n the face of it, it's a white man with a rope and a gun. As a white male, the significance is not lost on me. We have 168 documented lynchings in the history of Kentucky. 168. That is still an open wound with African-Americans here in Kentucky."

"The message was very, very clear that they were trying to send. This is terrorism. It's intimidation. The thing is, this starts at the top --- when the President of the United States says things like, 'When the looting starts, the shooting starts' --- that is the message that these ... self-styled patriots tromp around the woods in mismatched camouflage, this is what they're waiting for. This is the kind of chaos they're waiting for. We don't know where those shots came from last night. I am having a hard time separating them in my head."

On the Taylor killing, where none of the cops involved have yet to be arrested, Broihier tells me: "There's an old saying: 'In his own home, no Kentuckian need ever run.' But that apparently doesn't apply when you're an African-American man in Louisville."

We also discuss Kentucky's plans for reopening the state amid the ongoing coronavirus crisis; his Democratic (and establishment-supported) opponent for the U.S. Senate nomination, Amy McGrath, who is also a Marine Lt. Colonel, and her flip-flop-flip support for Trump's U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh; Broihier's endorsements from Indivisible Kentucky and from Andrew Yang (the first endorsement by the former Democratic Presidential candidate), among others; his support for progressive policies such as Universal Basic Income (UBI), much of the Green New Deal, the need to shut down deadly and dying coal mines in his own state and to help the industry's workers move to better, safer jobs; and whether the unpopular McConnell can finally be defeated in Kentucky this year.

"Mitch doesn't show up back here in Kentucky too much. He was here back at the beginning of the pandemic with Brett Kavanaugh, of all people, to celebrate the elevation of a judge rated 'unqualified' by the ABA to the 2nd Circuit Court, the second highest court in the land," Broihier notes. "He's the one who said let the states go bankrupt, and he was talking specifically about Kentucky." He also tells me: "I see McConnell as an existential threat to our republic. While I disagree heartily with Lt. Col. McGrath on many things, she would still be better than Mitch McConnell."

As to whether he'd be a better choice to defeat McConnell than McGrath, he says: "If it's just electability, I'm the candidate. I am a retired lieutenant colonel as well. Being a veteran is very important here in Kentucky. But I'm also a public school teacher. I was a rural journalist. I learned how to communicate progressive ideas to religious, conservative people. The most important thing, probably, for the heart of Kentucky is I am a farmer. We know what it is like to struggle on a farm and try to support your family."

"You have to win in all of Kentucky. As a veteran, a teacher and a farmer, that cuts a pretty wide swath across almost all of Kentucky. I've got some pretty visionary plans of what America should look like when we're done with this pandemic, but you've got to be able to back it up with plans. And I've got plans! Plans that people will get tired of reading because I've been able to engage some really talented experts to help craft them. I'm for UBI but I've got a plan. There's meat on the bones."

There is much more, including his position on the Green New Deal in a coal state and more. Please tune in.

Finally, because we really needed a bit of a laugh at the end of yet another harrowing week, Desi Doyen joins us to close today's show with a pretty hilarious, unaired "outtake" from our most recent Green News Report...

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

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The elephant in the room is not the GOP...
By Sue Wilson on 2/14/2020 11:15am PT  

On October 24, 1998, a group of activists from across the United States gathered in Washington DC to protest the Ken Starr investigation into Bill Clinton in the first rally ever organized on the Internet.

Darrell Hampton's umbrella group "We the People" was generally outraged at Starr's excesses; White House staffer Bob Weiner railed against Ken Starr for subpoenaing him for eating ice cream with a fellow Democrat; the fledgling group "Censure and MoveOn" (later to become MoveOn.org) was featured; and my "Truth in America Project" focused on the biased media promoting the investigation, media which had recently gained its dominance from the 1996 Telecommunications Act.

We all understood the long drawn out Grand Jury investigation of Bill Clinton had found no crimes, and so Starr et al manufactured a perjury trap to have an excuse to impeach the President. As I said on the Ellipse in front of the White House, "Is it okay for a big government attorney to work with a private civil lawyer to see if they can figure out a way to get a man to lie about his sex life so they can prosecute him for it?"

But what was just coming to light, and what has had a lasting damaging legacy, is the effect of the 1996 Telecommunications Act on our political landscape.

Brief history: When radio and television were first invented, broadcast pioneers and government officials recognized that radio had the potential to entertain and inform, but when used improperly, also to brainwash a population. So Congress passed the 1934 Communications Act, which limited any one owner in the United States to owning just 9 stations nationwide: 3 AM radio stations, 3 FM radio stations, 3 TV stations. The thinking was that by having multiple local owners, no one person could dominate the (publicly owned) airwaves with political rhetoric.

Ah, those were the days...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---




Guest: Slate's Dahlia Lithwick on not returning to SCOTUS; Also: John Oliver touches on touchscreens; KY Gov. Matt Bevin's reelection contest...
By Brad Friedman on 11/4/2019 6:13pm PT  

On today's BradCast: John Oliver touches on America's voting machine crisis, America goes to the polls again (using those same, unverifiable touchscreen voting systems), and one year after accused sex assaulter Brett Kavanaugh was sworn in as a U.S. Supreme Court Justice, one 20-year veteran SCOTUS journalist is refusing to return to the Court...and for very good reason. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up, as we are now officially --- finally --- less than one year away from the critical 2020 Presidential election, our electronic voting systems in many states are still just as bad and dangerous and vulnerable and unverifiable as they were 15 years ago. And, in a bunch of states and jurisdictions across the country, they are getting even worse and less verifiable than they were in the 2016 election. HBO's John Oliver dipped into the issue on his latest Last Week Tonight on Sunday night and got a lot of stuff right regarding our easily-hacked, oft-failed touchscreen voting systems that have been in use over the past several decades. Unfortunately, he also left out a whole bunch of stuff regarding the new and equally vulnerable and 100% unverifiable computer touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) which are now being installed and proliferating in states (many of them key battlegrounds) from coast to coast before 2020. In short, as we detail, Oliver's report was excellent....if this was 2009. As it is now 2019, however, his commentary was a bit wanting. But, we'll take what we can get and that, of course, is why you have The BradCast.

In related-ish news, a bunch of off-year state and local elections are happening in several states on Tuesday. Among the noteworthy contests is the gubernatorial race in Kentucky, where the unpopular and very Trumpy Republican Governor Matt Bevin is fighting for his life in a race with Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear (son of the Bluegrass State's former Governor Steve Beshear), in what pre-election polls suggest is currently a dead-heat contest. But, as we detail today, Bevin was down anywhere from 3 to 5 points in pre-election polling during his first run for Governor against then Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway in 2015. Nonetheless, as we detailed that year, he somehow ended up winning the race, reportedly, by nearly 9 points in a state which still forces many voters to use the same unverifiable touchscreen voting machines that helped Bevin win in 2015. Many of those systems are the same very old, vulnerable and unverifiable ones which Oliver railed against on his HBO piece on Sunday. Trump is in KY on Monday night to help "drag one of the nation’s most unpopular governors across the finish line," as the New York Times describes it today, in what many see as a potential bellwether race ahead of 2020.

Meanwhile, it has now been just over a year since Brett Kavanaugh was sworn in to his lifetime post as an Associate Justice on the Republicans' stolen U.S. Supreme Court. He was seated on the bench almost immediately after Republicans in the U.S. Senate rammed through his nomination --- with the help of a trumped up FBI "investigation" --- late last year despite multiple, credible allegations of sexual assault against Kavanaugh from the time he was in high school and college.

Longtime SCOTUS journalist DAHLIA LITHWICK wrote at Slate last week about why she has not returned to the Court since Kavanaugh was sworn in. She joins us today to discuss the reasons behind her decision, and why, as she described, she will "not accede to the routinization and normalization of the unprecedented seat stolen from President Back Obama in 2016" by Mitch McConnell and Republicans, nor from the "unprecedented seating of someone who managed to himself evade the very inquiries and truth-seeking functions that justice is supposed to demand" in Kavanaugh.

"One-quarter of the federal appeals courts, at this moment, three years into the Trump presidency, are Trump nominees. We're not just talking about nine justices on the Supreme Court. We're talking about the most strategic, systematic takeover of the federal bench that any president has ever effectuated," she tells me. "And that is happening day by day, right under our noses. And those judges are also going to sit for decades. So it's not just the Supreme Court."

It's a fascinating and important conversation, I think, about not only why none of us should simply "get over it" and "move on", when it comes to both Kavanaugh and the stolen seat filled by Neil Gorsuch, but also why our nation's seeming inability (or even interest) in assuring accountability for all manner of precedent --- and criminal law --- breaking in recent years has brought the country to the perilous position we now find ourselves in: Trump in the White House, the Supreme Court stolen and federal courts packed with unqualified rubes for life, and SCOTUS on the precipice of deciding a number of enormously momentous issues this session from union rights to reproductive justice.

"It's what happened when Barack Obama made the decision that we just are not going to re-litigate the CIA torture program, and this very aspirational notion that if we all forgive and forget, we all get to meet in the middle and work toward better outcomes. It's kind of Lucy with the football --- it never works out to meeting in the middle and working toward better outcomes. It just turns out that, yet again, ground has been ceded," she tells me.

"We're really bad at this. The heart wants what it wants, and the heart wants normal. I think that we keep believing that this erosion, this slow systemic erosion of norms, is somehow normal. I thought it was a law, it's not a law. I thought it was a rule, it's not a rule," says Lithwick. "We didn't didn't used to seat 37-year-old bloggers who've never set foot in a court room as a federal judges for life. And now we do. There's no law, there's just a norm. What I was trying to get at in the piece is that constantly acceding to this and saying, 'Well, this is what it is now' --- that there are costs. There are huge, huge costs to democracy."

"Our scrutiny, our unwavering, unflinching, I'm-not-over-it scrutiny does make a difference," she insists. "We need to hold the Court to the same unflinching, 'we're watching you,' 'we care'. That seems like soft power, I understand it's not optimal, but I think the Court responds. What they really want is for us to put this on page A27 and get over it. And that's our choice, not theirs."

Lots of important stuff here, as I said. Can't really summarize it well enough here, so please tune in.

Also, Lithwick rings in with some thoughts --- which tie into the broader conversation --- on what she expects from John Roberts' Supreme Court following today's ruling by a federal appeals court in Manhattan that Trump's accounting firm, Mazars USA, must turn over some 8 years of his and his company's tax and other financial documents to New York state prosecutors and a similar decision by a federal appeals court in D.C. last month that the same firm must also turn over similar records to Congressional investigators in response to yet another lawful subpoena...

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

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Guest: Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) 'hopes' newest SCOTUS Justice was 'completely forthright with U.S. Senate during confirmation', says House Judiciary 'proceeding in the nature of an Impeachment Inquiry' on Trump; Also: Prez uses visits to Dayton, El Paso to attack Dems...
By Brad Friedman on 8/7/2019 6:35pm PT  

Hey! Remember Brett Kavanaugh? The Donald Trump SCOTUS appointee who demonstrably lied during his sworn U.S. Senate Confirmation hearings last year before Republicans voted to ram him through to a lifetime appointment on the highest court in the land, anyway? Yeah, we do too. Thankfully, so does our guest on today's BradCast who, as a member of Congress, can actually maybe --- just maybe --- do something to finally bring some accountability there. And, according to a letter signed by him and House Judiciary Committee Chair Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) on Tuesday, there is now evidence that they intend to try and do just that! [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

But, first up today, NBC News nailed it in a headline we saw only after getting off air today: "Trump turns day of grieving for shooting victims into day of grievances". That about sums it up. On Monday, in a scripted teleprompter speech, the President responded to the two weekend gun massacres that took the lives of at least 31 in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio by asking Americans "to set destructive partisanship aside...and find the courage to answer hatred with unity, devotion and love". But, just over 24 hours later, he began to unleash various attacks on Democrats Beto O'Rourke, Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, former Vice President Joe Biden, and even managed to tie Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren somehow to the shooter in Dayton. All of that before, during and after what were supposed to be Presidential visits to the two recovering cities, intended to console them and help ease their pain after the twin tragedies.

On Tuesday night, Trump first broke his call for setting aside partisanship with a misfired Twitter snipe at El Paso native Beto O'Rourke's name, in which he told the former Texas Congressman to "be quiet!" after O'Rourke accurately tied the El Paso shooter's white supremacist diatribe to Trump's identical references to an "invasion" at our southern border. But on Wednesday morning, before leaving for his trips to the two grieving cities, he told reports at the White House that he felt his "rhetoric brings people together" and he "would like to stay out of the political fray." That vow didn't even last until he arrived in El Paso, with his new Twitter attacks emanating even while he was on Air Force One.

But in news today that is much less insane, we are joined by REP. HANK JOHNSON (D-GA), a member of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee and Chair of its Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet. That subcommittee oversees the federal court system, including the U.S. Supreme Court. On Tuesday, Johnson and Nadler sent a letter to the National Archives and Records Administration requesting records from Justice Kavanaugh's tenure in the White House during the George W. Bush Administration, when he first served in the White House Counsel's office from 2001 to 2003 and then as White House Staff Secretary from 2003 to 2006.

The request includes thousands of documents either never reviewed or never requested by then-U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Chuck Grassley (R-IA) during Kavanaugh's SCOTUS confirmation process last year. While Grassley requested no documents at all from Kavanaugh's tenure as Staff Secretary --- during which many decisions were discussed and made in the run-up to Iraq War and about the torture and detention of suspect terrorists and prisoners of war --- thousands of documents from Kavanaugh's time in the White House Counsel's office were withheld from the Senate Judiciary panel last year after they were privately reviewed by Kavanaugh's own personal attorney.

Johnson explains why Democrats are now seeking all of those records, what they hope to find, and what they may do with the information they unearth from them on the Committee which has jurisdiction to launch impeachment proceedings for all federal judges, including Supreme Court Justices.

Of course, it remains to be seen whether the Trump Administration will attempt to block the records request, which asserts the rights of the Committee to review the documents under the Presidential Records Act of 1975. If they are blocked, Johnson tells me, they are prepared to take additional measures to obtain the records. The Georgia Congressman also responds in detail to a number of my questions including whether he supports an expansion of the U.S. Supreme Court in order to unpack the Republican's currently stolen majority; why he is not currently among the majority of House Dems publicly calling to open an official Impeachment Inquiry in his Judiciary Committee; and what he thinks of his home state of Georgia's current plan to move from one 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems to an all new, if equally unverifiable touchscreen voting system --- rather than a cheaper, verifiable hand-marked paper ballot system --- before next year's crucial 2020 Presidential election in a state that many believe may finally be ready to flip "blue" after years of GOP dominance in the state.

On what he hopes to find in Kavanaugh's records from the George W. Bush years: "I hope to discover that Justice Kavanaugh has been completely forthright and honest with the U.S. Senate during his confirmation process. Moreover, I hope to find that the conduct of Justice Kavanaugh, during his time as Secretary with the Office of Counsel for the President, at all times conducted himself in a way that would be in keeping with that of someone who now serves on the U.S. Supreme court with a lifetime tenure. And, of course, that is only subject to the House's ability to impeach, should there be a need for it. The American people deserve to know who we have on the US Supreme Court, what his background is, and if he was honest with the Senate in his confirmation proceedings."

On expanding the stolen SCOTUS: "It's no question that the courts have been stacked with judges with a particular political bent...They are holding the future back, and it's hurting America. So we, as the legislative branch, with the power to expand the Supreme Court --- nothing in the Constitution says that it will be a Court of nine Justices --- so we have to look at whether or not its in the efficiency of our process that we need to expand the Court. We really don't need to politicize the courts. But unfortunately the courts have been politicized. So the question is, what do we do? And how will the Supreme Court react to the fact that the legislative branch is open to looking at alternatives to the current way that it does business?"

On why Johnson is not currently among the majority of Dems in the House publicly calling for an official Impeachment Inquiry: He stands by his current position (despite my generous offer to allow him to make news by changing it on today's BradCast), while explaining, "We are proceeding in the nature of an impeachment inquiry at this time, and we're doing so without calling it an impeachment inquiry so as not to put the 31 red-to-blue winners in 2018, new Democrats, not to put them in jeopardy of not being able to come back and keep us in the majority in 2020. ... At some point we may accumulate the record that we can then pass the impeachment resolutions on and then proceed to the evidence --- not just the Mueller Report, but the evidence... take that over to the US Senate and have a trial. " After I press him a bit on his current position, he concedes: "I tell you what --- if you call me back in about two or three months, maybe I will have changed on impeachment."

And, finally, on Georgia's Republican Governor and Sec. of State defying cybersecurity experts to move from one unverifiable touchscreen voting system to another: "I think the way to go is to have hand-marked paper ballots that are then scanned into a counting machine and counted. And then you have the paper ballots that you can test the results of the tally machine against, and that way, you can have a verifiable vote. ... But we cannot do it on this new system that the Georgia legislature has authorized. I think it is a $125 or $150 million dollar expenditure that will be for a system that we can't even rely on. I think it's bad for the taxpayers, it's bad for the voters, it's bad for democracy, and it's a bad move for Georgia."

He offers much more on all of the above, so I hope you'll tune in to listen to today's BradCast...

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Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern; Also: Dems pass $4.5B emergency funding for border - with strings; Mueller to testify in open hearings; Kellyanne Conway subpoenaed by House; NRATV finally shuts down...
By Brad Friedman on 6/26/2019 5:11pm PT  

Before our guest joins us on today's BradCast --- and in advance of the Democrats' first two-night 2020 Presidential Candidate Debate in Miami (which we'll be covering over the next two BradCasts), some very quick news headlines today. [Audio link to complete show is posted below]

  • House Democrats have called Donald Trump's and Republicans' bluff by passing a $4.5 billion supplemental spending bill to cover border-related costs for children and other migrants being held in squalid, overcrowded conditions, with children not even being given soap or toothbrushes and forced to sleep on cold cement floors. The House bill also places some restrictions on how that funding can be spent, unlike the Senate version of a similar emergency supplemental spending measure for $4.6 billion. Some on Team Trump have called for vetoing the House version. The conflicting bills will somehow need to be reconciled before final passage, though it's unclear how that can happen before lawmakers leave town for their week-long July 4th recess;
  • On Tuesday night, the Chairs of the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees announced that former Special Counsel Robert Mueller has agreed to appear --- after being subpoenaed --- for testimony in open sessions to both House panels, one after the other, on July 17th. He is expected to give answers to lawmakers about his two-year probe of alleged Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election, the Trump Campaign's cooperation with that effort, and Donald Trump's repeated, unlawful (and impeachable) attempts to obstruct the Special Counsel's federal investigation;
  • Speaking of House testimony, the Oversight Committee voted on Wednesday to subpoena Trump's senior adviser Kellyanne Conway for testimony following a recent finding from the Trump-appointed head of an independent federal watchdog agency recommending Conway be fired for multiple violations of the federal Hatch Act. That Federal law bars public officials from using their office for partisan campaign purposes. Conway failed to show up voluntarily on Wednesday, so will now face a subpoena forcing her to do so --- at least in theory. Trump has refused to fire Conway, despite her repeated violations of the law, and his White House has, so far, taken extraordinary (and likely unlawful) measures to block Congressional testimony by White House officials;
  • Oh, and it was announced today that NRATV is finally shutting down amid internecine fighting, scandal and criminal probes of the terrorist-supporting NRA, which appears to have really shot itself in the foot. We send them our thoughts and prayers at this difficult time;

Then, we're joined once again today by the great MARK JOSEPH STERN, Slate's ace legal reporter and, as the end of SCOTUS' term wraps up before summer, our ever-insightful Supreme Court correspondent! There were a bevy of opinions issued by the Court over the past week, even as most received little fanfare or attention by the media. Trump's war-mongering with Iran and worsening child detention problems on the border are just some of the reasons for that. But also, the biggest expected rulings --- on whether a citizenship question may be added to the 2020 Census, despite Trump Administrations lies about it, and on whether states may employ partisan gerrymandering for electoral advantage --- are still to come at any moment now. In the meantime, while the many opinions issued over the past week, in and of themselves, may not have been marquee rulings, many, as Stern explains, have serious consequences.

More importantly, however, as we discuss today, the new rulings offer some pretty HUGE SCREAMING RED SIRENS about the direction that the Republicans' stolen U.S. Supreme Court now intends to go, with their far-right majority now firmly ensconced. A number of opinions in several of the cases offered some pretty clear projections that this Court intends to overturn decades, if not centuries, of legal court precedent, case law, and even thousands of federal laws in the bargain.

Among the many decisions we discuss in some detail today:

  • A contorted ruling that allows a 94-year old religious monument to fallen WWI soldiers to remain on government property despite being a clear violation of the Constitution's Establishment Clause separating Church and State;
  • The case of an African American man whose death sentence was, thankfully, overturned after a state prosecutor in Mississippi repeatedly excluded African American jurors from sitting on the six different trials the man has, so far, faced for a case of multiple murders that it seems quite likely he had nothing at all to do with;
  • An opinion that overturns decades and perhaps centuries of property rights case law;
  • Another that comes within a hair's breadth of striking down hundreds, if not thousands of federal laws passed by Congress over our nation's history;
  • And a decision that overturns decades of trademark law which the court found to be FUCT. (We explain on the show, while avoiding any potential FCC language violations in the bargain! You're welcome!)

In all, we cover quite a bit of ground today, with some important details --- far more than I can cover here --- that you should definitely tune in for, if only so that you can't later say nobody warned you!

"This is the term when the Justices pretty much rip up stare decisis," explains Stern, citing the legal term for the custom of respecting court precedent, "or at least get out their lighters and lay the kindling. In a number of cases the conservative Justices have just decided that they've had enough with precedent, they're ready to make the Constitution say what they want it to say. Doesn't matter what previous courts have ruled."

Stern warns: "For the most part, the Justices have been swinging for the rafters. They do not feel hemmed in by many limitations. You're seeing unbridled exercise of judicial power --- the kind of thing that [Chief Justice] Roberts said during his confirmation hearings he would never resort to."

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Guest: Dave Daley of FairVote: Also: Tornado swarms erupt across U.S. amid climate crisis; Ford to fire thousands of workers...
By Brad Friedman on 5/20/2019 6:58pm PT  

Our guest on today's BradCast, argues that representative democracy is facing a "major crisis." And he wasn't even talking about the Constitutional Crisis we are now seeing as Trump turns up his obstruction measures against the U.S. Congress to 11. But partisan gerrymandering underscores that crisis as well. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

First up today, however, much of Texas and Oklahoma are under tornado watches and warnings today, as 10 million Americans were under flash flood warnings as of airtime today, following as many as 67 tornadoes over the weekend in in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Kansas and Nebraska. That, after more than a month of record flooding along the Missouri and Mississippi rivers in many states. There is good reason that the UK's Guardian newspaper updated its style-guide last week to reflect the existential climate crisis humanity now faces, thanks to the burning of fossil fuels. The Guardian is now recommending "climate change" be referred to by its journalists as "climate emergency, crisis or breakdown", and that "global warming" is better described as "global heating", with "climate science denier" to be used instead of the inaccurate "climate skeptic". It will be nice when US media decides to do the same.

Meanwhile, in the U.S., Ford Motor Co.'s CEO --- who personally received a 6% raise last year, bringing his total compensation package to nearly $18 million --- announced plans for a "smart organizational redesign process" on Monday. That's a nice way of describing the company's decision to lay off as many as 7,000 workers by the end of summer. So much for the $1.5 trillion GOP tax cut assuring jobs, jobs, jobs and putting our economy "on rocket fuel", apparently, as Trump promised.

But the biggest news over the weekend, no doubt, comes from conservative Republican Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, who announced and explained on Twitter why he believes "President Trump has engaged in impeachable conduct" and why even the redacted version of the Mueller Report reveals Trump "engaged in specific actions and a pattern of behavior that meet the threshold for impeachment."

The courageous, staunch libertarian Tea Party Republican and co-founder of the hard right Freedom Caucus in Congress, also charges that Trump's new Attorney General William Barr "deliberately misrepresented Mueller's report", that "partisanship has eroded our system of checks and balances," and that "the risk we face in an environment of extreme partisanship is not that Congress will employ [impeachment] as a remedy too often but rather that Congress will employ it so rarely that it cannot deter misconduct." He went on to warn, as we long have as well, that "When loyalty to a political party or to an individual trumps loyalty to the Constitution, the Rule of Law --- the foundation of liberty --- crumbles."

Trump's impressive response was to call Amash "a total lightweight" and "loser". Ours is to bestow him with our much-sought after, if rarely bestowed, Intellectually Honest Conservative Award

Of course, there are other reasons that so few (exactly zero, at the moment) other Congressional GOPers have joined Amash in standing up for what they used to pretend to believe in. One is that Democrats have yet to present the case for impeachment to the American public, even as the Trump Administration invokes every form of unlawful obstructive measure to try and keep them from doing so. (Breaking news during today's program, for example, includes a federal judge finding Trump's accounting firm Mazars must turn over Trump's financial documents as lawfully subpoenaed by Congress, despite a lawsuit from Trump attempting to block them from doing so; and news that the White House has now ordered former White House Counsel Don McGahn to defy a Congressional subpoena requiring him to testify to the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.)

The other reason many Republicans in Congress feel no need to hold Trump to account is that the GOP's extreme partisan gerrymandering in state after state following the 2010 census has resulted in members of Congress who feel --- with no small amount of justification --- that they cannot be removed from office by voters in a general election. The radical imbalance of such obscene district maps have resulted, for example, in Democratic House candidates winning almost 50% of the vote last year in North Carolina, but ultimately taking just 3 of the state's 13 U.S. House seats. In Ohio, essentially 50/50 splits by voters for members of Congress have resulted in just 4 of 20 seats going to Democrats, year after year, over the past decade. We've similar stories in other key states such as Wisconsin, Maryland and Pennsylvania, with courts finding House Districts and state legislative districts alike to have been unconstitutionally gerrymandered, and orders by federal courts to draw new, fairer maps repeatedly blocked by the GOP's stolen U.S. Supreme Court.

That decade-long scam, as our guest today, DAVID DALEY of FairVote argued last week at New Republic, is precisely why GOP-controlled state after GOP-controlled state in recent weeks, have been able to adopt radical, extremist and even unpopular anti-abortion restrictions. Daley, author of the book RATF**KED: The True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America's Democracy, lays out his argument, updates us on the recent partisan gerrymandering cases in North Carolina and Maryland now before SCOTUS (with a ruling due next month), and why, as he argues, the fight for fair maps, fair elections and democracy itself "is not going to be saved in this country by any given election," but needs to be "engaged and fought every single day" as we are now in "a war for the future of this country"...

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Guest: Former WI Supreme Court candidate Tim Burns; Also: Courts block Trump 'Obamacare' attacks; WI's Supreme Court election is a big deal...
By Brad Friedman on 3/29/2019 6:36pm PT  

On today's BradCast, some facts --- real ones, not Mitch McConnell's --- about our nation's healthy history of changing the number of seats on the U.S. Supreme Court, which we have done seven different times over the past 238 years since our founding. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

But, first up quickly today, Donald Trump has taken yet another hit from the courts on his attempt to undermine the Affordable Care Act and the U.S. healthcare system. It's the second such court loss he's faced over the past week, with the first court nixing his attempt to allow work requirements under Medicaid in Kentucky and Arkansas, and the second on Thursday night finding his allowance of cheap health insurance policies that don't meet the standards of the Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare") to be unlawful. That second ruling comes courtesy of a well-respected George W. Bush-appointed federal judge who is rarely reversed by appellate courts.

Next, a preview of a very important election on Tuesday in Wisconsin for its state Supreme Court. Its the first of two elections to the high court in the Badger State (one on Tuesday and the other next year on the same day as the Democratic Presidential primary election in WI) that could result in a progressive-leaning majority, at long last, being restored to WI's high court. Control of that court is wildly important for both the state and the nation on a number of fronts, which we discuss today, including voting rights before the 2020 election, redistricting for the next decade after the 2020 Census, and the rollback of a host of anti-union and other hard-right policies enacted during the gerrymandered Scott Walker years.

Tuesday's match-up is between progressive-backed Judge Lisa Neubauer and Koch Industries/Chamber of Commerce-backed Judge Brian Hagedorn, a protege of former Republican Gov. Scott Walker. Hagedorn has called Planned Parenthood a "wicked organization" devoted to "killing babies", described the NAACP as "a disgrace to America", and argued "The idea that homosexual behavior is different than bestiality as a constitutional matter is unjustifiable."

But while voters in WI directly select their Supreme Court at the ballot box (which I am no fan of), the U.S. Supreme Court is a different matter. After Senate Republicans stole what should have been a Democratic majority on the court in 2016 by refusing to even hold a vote on Judge Merrick Garland, Barack Obama's nominee to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia, GOP Senate Leader Mitch McConnell held the seat vacant for a year before unilaterally changing Senate rules to do away with the filibuster to allow Neil Gorsuch to be seated on the high court. Later, under those same changed rules, the far-rightwing, accused sexual-predator Brett Kavanaugh was similarly added to the Court, likely cementing a generation of GOP-control.

In response, many progressives --- even Presidential candidates --- are now calling for the expansion of SCOTUS if Democrats can regain control of the U.S. House, Senate and White House next year, in order to restore a liberal-leaning majority that arguably should have been theirs in 2016. Naturally, McConnell is already decrying the idea, describing it on Thursday, ironically enough, as "an unprincipled power grab...that would threaten the rule of law and our American Judicial system." He cites the attempted court packing by Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1930s to support his notion that changing the size of the Court is "a thoroughly discredited idea".

We're joined today by Wisconsin attorney and former state Supreme Court nominee TIM BURNS for both thoughts on Tuesday's crucial election in the state ("The stakes are huge," he explains) and the little-known history of "court packing" in the U.S. More specifically, Burns, who wrote about the issue recently at The New Republic, discusses the seven different times since the founding of our republic when the number of seats on the U.S. Supreme Court has been changed by Congress, including under one of our founders Thomas Jefferson and even under Republican Party icon Abraham Lincoln.

Burns, who serves on the board of the progressive Wisconsin Justice Initiative and the national board of the American Constitution Society, argues that contrary to misleading claims by McConnell and fellow Republicans, changes made to the size of SCOTUS by the Legislative and Executive Branches, as called for by the U.S. Constitution, have been healthy for the nation, often coming "hand in hand with some of the most vibrant periods of our democracy," and in response to the out-sized growth of corporate power.

"There have always been these predictions of the utter ruin of our democracy if the size of the Court is changed," Burns tells me. "The truth is, the Court's been viewed favorably even after its size has changed." And while he says that it's "entirely possible" that Republicans could then do the same thing once they regain power, "that doesn't spell the doom of our democracy. It says that our democracy is working. The political power rests with the voter instead of nine lawyers, judges on a Supreme Court."

Perhaps that's why Senate GOPers this week have introduced a measure calling for a Constitutional Amendment to keep the number of seats on the Court at nine. Good luck with that, boys.

Most interesting, however, may be Burns' fascinating recounting of what happened when FDR attempted unsuccessfully to expand the Court in what McConnell falsely described as an historic event that resulted in the idea of "Court Packing" becoming "synonymous in American history with the idea of an unprincipled power grab". What actually happened in the 1930s, and why the Court was ultimately not expanded under FDR is a fascinating bit of lost history and quite different from the way it has been described in lore. The truth places new calls to expand the Court today, during this period of unprecedented partisanship and class-divide under a hard-Right SCOTUS, into a very different light and perspective as this debate kicks off both in the nation and among Democrats vying for the 2020 Presidential nomination....

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Guest: Suzanne Almeida of Common Cause; Also: Lack of campaign finance charges against Don Jr., Manafort threaten 2020 elections...
By Brad Friedman on 3/27/2019 6:02pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Something seemingly very interesting may have occurred at Tuesday's oral arguments on two separate, if related, partisan redistricting cases at the U.S. Supreme Court. The results, believe it or not, could change the outcome from what many voting rights advocates had previously predicted following the resignation of Justice Anthony Kennedy and the subsequent seating of his far-right replacement Justice Brett Kavanaugh. [Audio link to complete show is posted at end of article.]

The scourge of state legislative and Congressional maps drawn for partisan advantage by the party in power after a decennial Census has crippled democracy and the voting power of citizens for decades in the U.S. But the GOP dramatically upped the stakes following the 2010 Census when they employed highly sophisticated computer mapping techniques to ensure themselves huge electoral advantages over the ensuing ten years by drawing extremely partisan maps that "packed" Democrats into a small number of districts or "cracked" them among several in order to dilute the voting power of non-Republicans.

It's a practice that Democrats have carried out as well, if not to the same extreme as Republicans who took over many statehouses in the 2010 "red wave" election. A new analysis from AP finds that 2018's "blue tsunami" election, for example, would have been much larger for Congressional Democrats, were it not for many extremely partisan GOP-drawn maps in a number of key states, including North Carolina, Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, Alabama and Texas. The AP study finds "Republicans won about 16 more U.S. House seats" than they would have under fair maps. Similarly, "Republicans' structural advantage might have helped them hold on to as many as seven [state legislative] chambers that otherwise could have flipped to Democrats."

While the U.S. Supreme Court has long found gerrymanders on a racial basis to be unconstitutional, they've yet to affirm the many lower court rulings finding partisan gerrymanders to be similarly unconstitutional. Last term, when many believed SCOTUS was prepared to do so, the Court punted instead on several cases of extreme partisan maps in Wisconsin, North Carolina and elsewhere, before Justice Kennedy --- thought to have been the likely swing-vote in favor of ending the odious practice --- announced his retirement.

On Tuesday, one of those cases, Common Cause v. Rucho --- where a federal appeals court determined (twice!) that North Carolina's Congressional maps were unlawfully skewed for Republicans (they've held a 10 to 3 advantage in their Congressional delegation for the past decade, despite the state being almost evenly divided between Republican and Democratic voters) --- was heard again at SCOTUS. Another case, Benesik v. Lamone, in which a single Congressional district in Maryland was drawn by Democrats specifically to remove an incumbent Republican, was heard as well.

And while many voting rights advocates have not had high hopes for either case, given the even farther-right leaning majority on the court following Kennedy's retirement, there were some surprises during oral argument, particularly from Justice Kavanaugh whose decision in one or both of the cases could change history by delivering a major win for voting rights.

We're joined today to discuss these potentially encouraging developments with SUZANNE ALMEIDA, Redistricting and Representation Counsel for Common Cause, the lead plaintiff in the NC case. She was in the Court on Tuesday for both hearings and explains what seems to have happened, offers insight on what could now occur, decries why these cases are so important, and what may happen when SCOTUS finally delivers it's crucial opinion in June in advance of both the crucial 2020 elections and the subsequent redistricting of all 50 states that will follow the 2020 Census.

"The North Carolina case is a particularly egregious case, for a couple of reasons," Almeida tells me. "One is that we have an admission. On the floor of the General Assembly, Representative Lewis leaned into a microphone and said, 'This is a partisan gerrymander. I wanted to this map to be 10-3 because it couldn't be 11-2.' That's not the way that map-drawing should work, and that's not the way representation should work in America." She also discusses, for example, how one district line drawn by the GOP in North Carolina actually splits an historically African-American college in two, so that its voters are diluted into two separate Republican-leaning districts.

As to the matter concerning Kavanaugh, who was reportedly disturbed by his own district in Maryland, where he lives, being gerrymandered by Democrats to prevent Republican representation, Almeida confirms that he seemed to want to find a standard that could be used by courts to determine if districts were unlawfully gerrymandered on a partisan basis. She says she shares "the characterization that Justice Kavanaugh has a personal interest in the Maryland case ... And he was pushing back quite strongly against the advocate for the state."

Almeida also pushed back at the notion from Justices on the right that Courts should simply stay out of these matters, and leave them to voters and the legislators who drew the maps to keep themselves in power in the first place, she tells me: "This idea that the Court has that somehow this is self-correcting, or will fix itself through the magic of the political process, just doesn't work. And that's because gerrymandering is about power, and people in power staying in power. And when the people in power have that power to make the rules and draw the lines, that's what they're going to keep doing."

She adds that comments from Kavanaugh and even Chief Justice Roberts during the proceedings on Tuesday are "reason to be optimistic". But I'll wait until the opinions come out in June before popping any champagne bottles on what could be, according to Mark Joseph Stern at Slate the "most important voting rights victory of the century so far."

Also on today's program: Speaking of 2020, some curious questions about why nobody from Team Trump --- particularly Donald Trump Jr. or campaign chair Paul Manafort --- has yet been charged with campaign finance violations regarding "soliciting" and/or "accepting" a "thing of value" from a foreign government, as clearly occurred in relation to the now-infamous June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with a number of Russian nationals. Election law expert Rick Hasen argues that the lack of indictments brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller in this matter does not bode well for the Dept. of Justice's plans to enforce election laws that bar "foreign governments from sharing information --- even information obtained from illegal hacking --- with campaigns, for the purposes of influencing the 2020 election...and beyond"...

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Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern with legal insight on a fire hose of news, from Ivanka's emails to Whitaker's appointment to Trump's trouble in court to encouraging midterm push-back against partisan gerrymandering...
By Brad Friedman on 11/20/2018 6:43pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we fly through a mountain of incoming stories (with the help of a great guest!) as the news gods seem to be unleashing a tidal wave in advance of the Thanksgiving Day holiday. [Audio link posted below. Buckle up before clicking.]

Among the ridiculous number of stories covered today...

  • Five are dead after three shootings in three different states over the past 24 hours;
  • Despite warning of an "invasion" on the U.S. southern border by a migrant caravan from Central America prior to the midterm elections, now that the elections are done, the Trump Administration is reportedly withdrawing more than 5,000 military troops they had deployed to the border just weeks ago;
  • The President's daughter and senior adviser Ivanka Trump reportedly sent hundreds of government related emails via a private email server over the course of 2017 in the months following her father's election in which he repeatedly called for his opponent, Hillary Clinton, to be "locked up" for doing the same thing. Ivanka's husband, Jared Kushner, also a senior adviser to Trump, reportedly used the same private server for government-related communications.

On the election results front...

  • Republican Rep. Will Hurd has reportedly squeaked out a victory over Democratic challenger Gina Ortiz Jones in Texas' 23rd Congressional District. The contest was among a handful of still-undecided races;
  • At the same time, Democrat Ben McAdams appears to have pulled back into the lead over GOP Rep. Mia Love in Utah's 4th Congressional District, where it now appears McAdams will be the victor by fewer than 700 votes out of some 270,000 tallied, flipping yet another U.S. House seat from "red" to "blue". The final margin is reportedly 0.258%, just above the 0.25% that would have allowed Love to request a recount in the otherwise ruby "red" state.
  • When the few remaining undecided U.S. House seats are called, Democrats appear on track to have picked up an extraordinary 39 seats in their "blue wave".
  • One of the three still-undecided House races is in Georgia, where this year's Libertarian candidate for Sec. of State has now endorsed Democratic candidate John Barrow in the upcoming December 4th runoff against Republican Brad Raffensperger to replace GA's vote suppressing Sec. of State, now Governor-elect Brian Kemp;
  • In Wisconsin, Democrats won every single statewide race on November 6th, including Governor (unseating Scott Walker) and U.S. Senate. They also outvoted Republicans in State Assembly races by 8 percentage points, 54 to 46 percent. Nonetheless, thanks to the GOP's extreme partisan gerrymandering in the Badger State, Republicans will hold 63 seats to the Democrats' 36 in the new Assembly;

The great (and newly wed!) MARK JOSEPH STERN, legal journalist at Slate, joins us to discuss how voters pushed back against gerrymandering this year by approving ballot initiatives --- and other measures --- in several states on November 6th, in an attempt to restore fair(er) elections in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court opting to not strike down partisan gerrymanders as unconstitutional in states such as Wisconsin and North Carolina earlier this year. Among the many other issues we fly through with Stern today, on which he offers his as-always cogent legal insight...

  • Ivanka and Hillary's email issues (Stern hopes a Democratic House investigation will result in real reform to the "arguably improper" if not unlawful use of private email by officials like Trump and Clinton, though not in the opportunistic political fashion that GOPers previously dealt with the issue);
  • Trump's appointment of GOP operative Matthew Whitaker as Acting Attorney General (which Stern describes as blatantly "illegal" and, he believes, very likely to be struck down by the Courts). He also describes the DoJ's legal defense of the maneuver as "laughable";
  • A federal court on Monday night blocked the Trump Administration's new regulation denying asylum claims by immigrants who fail to present themselves at a port of entry (Stern explains the judge found the Administration's new rule to be in strict violation of federal laws, and predicts that even Chief Justice John Roberts, based on similar rulings he made against the Obama Administration, will be forced to agree when the case reaches SCOTUS);
  • The decision by a Trump-appointed federal judge to order the White House to restore press credentials to CNN's Jim Acosta (Stern is impressed with the Trump judge's anti-Trump ruling, I remain a bit more skeptical);
  • And how (and why) Trump's controversial new Justice Brett Kavanaugh has, so far, laid low by not yet fuly tossing in with the Court's nihilist right-wing caucus.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report as the catastrophic wildfires continue to burn in California, Trump shows up to make things worse, and a coming turn in the weather signals both good news and bad for firefighters and recovery workers amid the record disaster...

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

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