For years, as I told my guest on today's BradCast, I've wondered if we were being too alarmist during his many appearances on the show. But now I'm starting to wonder if we haven't been alarmist enough. "I would say that you and I have been the exact right amount of alarmist," he tells me in response. "Time and time again, the Court has proved that it is going rogue, that it is lawless, that it is really corrupted by partisan politics." If the nation hasn't noticed by now, it is likely about to. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]
Before we get to that cheery conversation, a couple of quick news items today, as voters in Maine, Nevada, North Dakota and South Carolina headed to polls on Tuesday for critical mid-term elections. (Also in Texas, where there is a special election to fill a vacated Democratic U.S. House seat.) Results of note on tomorrow's program.
Wednesday's scheduled hearing in the U.S. House Select Committee investigating the January 6 insurrection and related Donald Trump crimes has been postponed until, presumably, next week. The Wednesday hearing had been set to focus on Trump's failed effort to decapitate the Dept. of Justice in order to install a low-level flunky with a scheme to help him steal the 2020 election by lying to state legislatures that the DoJ had found massive fraud in swing-states. Committee members claim the delayed hearing is only due to a need to give time to their over-worked understaffed video crew. Meanwhile, Thursday's scheduled hearing, focused on the pressure Trump placed on Vice President Pence to help steal the election for him on January 6, is still said to be on track.
In Congress today, the House passed a bill previously adopted by the U.S. Senate to extend security protections to family members of Supreme Court Justices. It's remarkable how quickly Republicans can act to pass laws to protect certain people that they give a damn about from gun violence. Every other family in America is on their own apparently. Best of luck.
And, speaking of SCOTUS, as their term comes to a close over the next two weeks, we catch up with the great MARK JOSEPH STERN, legal journalist and Supreme Court expert at Slate.com, on a whole passel of recent and coming-soon opinions that are currently shaking and set to shake the American legal and judicial system to its core
The outlook, as suggested by my opening graf above, is not encouraging. "I don't know what to tell you except that madness is coming," warns Stern. Tune in for real facts and hard truths about what is coming. But, by way of preview of some of the cases and issues discussed today...
- The tragic case of Terence Andrus, soon to be put to death, and what could represent the end of the Sixth Amendment's guarantee of competent legal representation, particularly in death penalty cases. Perhaps even more astounding, the Court's ruling on Monday directly contradicts their own ruling on the very same case in 2020 when, just two years ago, they sent the matter back down to the Texas State Court, which has since apparently decided that they needn't follow SCOTUS orders. And now, incredibly, with the loss of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the addition of Justice Amy Coney Barrett, SCOTUS agrees! "There can be no 'settled law' when SCOTUS lets rogue judges flout its own rulings and get away with it," Stern wrote in his coverage on Monday. Today he warns that with the Supreme Court failing to enforce its own precedents, "it really does send this message, a kind of wink and a nod, to lower courts that they can start defying these disfavored precedents, start nullifying these disfavored Constitutional rights, and get away with it. And that is a scary new phase."
- The coming-soon overturning of Roe v. Wade. We haven't spoken to Stern since the unprecedented leak of a draft opinion by the GOP's corrupt, packed and stolen majority which is set to end 50 years of Constitutional freedoms and privacy rights established by the landmark 1973 opinion. He explains that the Court has since cracked down on all such leaks, but that even in a best-case scenario where the final opinion is somewhat softened, the ruling is certain to be "tragic". Moreover, he warns that overturning the privacy rights of Roe will "cast a lot of doubt on decisions protecting the right to privacy --- for gay people, for interracial couples, for people who use contraception --- and lower courts will seize upon that language and use it to start overturning those rights." That is just one reason why the Andrus ruling described above is so wildly dangerous.
- Ending local government's right to protect residents from gun violence. The Court is set to issue its opinion on a challenge to New York's more-than-100-year old requirement that those seeking to carry concealed firearms apply for a special permit to do so. As soon as next week, despite the Second Amendment's mandate that the right to bear arms should be "well-regulated," the NY law is likely to be struck down by SCOTUS. "We should expect the Supreme Court to declare that there is a Second Amendment right, in every state in the country, to carry a concealed weapon in public spaces, even if you have no particularly good reason to want one. And that right cannot be infringed without a very strong interest from the government, which the Court will then explain does not really exist. And, in doing so, will unleash, I think, a wave of violence --- in states like California and New York that have pretty strict limits on concealed carry --- that will be attributable to the Supreme Court," Stern predicts. "But of course the Court will be in its own palace, surrounded by guards and fences, and the Justices will not have to face the lethal consequences of their own ruling."
- West Virginia v. EPA The courts, long ago, placed a stay on President Obama's Clean Power Plan, which would have incentivized the transition from polluting coal-fired power plants to clean, renewable energy production. Then those regulations were replaced entirely by Trump's energy plan. And now, despite absolutely nobody required to follow the Obama EPA's regulations on this, the corrupted SCOTUS decided to take up WV's original challenge to the Obama plan. "This case is incredibly bizarre," Stern rails. "Because right now there is no rule --- I repeat, no rule --- no regulation, that is limiting carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants. None. And yet, the Supreme Court is deciding whether the Biden Administration can issue a rule limiting carbon emissions. You might be asking how could it possibly be that the Supreme Court will rule on a regulation that does not yet exist, that may in fact never exist? The answer is that the usual rules about actually taking a live controversy do not seem to apply when the conservative super-majority really wants to kneecap the Biden Administration's regulatory agenda. So, even though the Court has nothing to strike down, it will almost certainly issue a decision purporting to strike down a regulation that doesn't even exist."
As to what Stern has to say about some cases that the Court is likely to pick up for its next term, particularly on something called the Independent State Legislature doctrine --- which doesn't actually exist either, but may very well soon, and will "either limit or abolish the ability of anyone other than a state legislature to set the rules for federal elections" --- well, I don't have the heart to go into the details here. But tune in if you want to be informed about what is coming next...and just in time for the 2024 Presidential election.
Stern has been warning about the opinions set to drop shortly for a very long time on this program. I leave it to you if you want to know what he warns is coming next.
"I don't know what to tell you except that madness is coming, and all we can do is try to prepare for it as best we can," he tells me. "Because this is the direction that the conservative Justices are moving in. They have telegraphed it very clearly, and they are moving us there just on schedule."
I wish I could say we close out today's show by cheering you up with our latest Green News Report, but we pride ourselves in telling listeners the truth, no matter how grim...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)