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Latest Featured Reports | Wednesday, October 5, 2022
'Green News Report' 10/4/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
Ian's catastrophic damage, death toll; FL climate resilience community passes Ian's test; Biden vows timely, full aid to P.R. after Fiona; PLUS: SCOTUS threatens clean water...
Recent GNRs: 9/29/22 - 9/27/22 - Archives...
New Bill Would Bar Congressmembers, Family from Trading Stocks: 'BradCast' 10/3/22
Guest: Craig Holman; Also: Ian's death toll; Biden in P.R.; Putin's failures; Brazil's lessons...
Sunday 'Think About It' Toons
There's plenty to ponder in PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best political toons...
High Cost of Climate Denial and Collapse of FL's Insurance Industry: 'BradCast' 9/30/22
Guest: Thomas Frank of E&E News; Also: DeSantis suddenly supports federal aid; Big Oil exposed (again) lying about climate change...
Keeping Up With Ian and Trump's GOP Fraudsters: 'BradCast' 9/29/22
Guest: Nicole Sandler from FL; Also: Election tampering charges in MI; Bad days in court for Powell, Dobbs, Fox 'News'; Trump's corrupt MAL judge strikes again...
'Green News Report' 9/29/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
Ian smashes records, pummels FL; Manchin's permitting bill collapses; New probe for PG&E; PLUS: Mysteriioius breaches on Russian pipelines to Europe...
Recent GNRs: 9/27/22 - 9/22/22 - Archives...
KS Abortion Referendum Data Suggest Women Being Under-Counted in Midterm Polling: 'BradCast' 9/28/22
Guest: Tom Bonier of TargetSmart; Also: Hurricane Ian storms ashore in FL...
Critical Elections, Catastrophic Storm Bear Down: 'BradCast' 9/27/22
Poll workers needed!; Ian closing in on FL; Scofflaw TX A.G. flees process server; Congress nears Electoral Count Act update; Listener mail...
'Green News Report' 9/27/22
Ian takes aim at FL; Fiona broke records in Canada; Noru pummels Philippines; Winter fuel prices soar; PLUS: Island nations call for fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty at U.N.
'Gold Standard' SCOTUS Poll Finds Majority of Americans Support Expansion of High Court: 'BradCast' 9/26/22
Also: Disinformationists; Fascism rising; Hurricane Ian threatens FL; Callers ring in...
Sunday 'Heavy Traffic' Toons
Be sure to check PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best toons before crossing state borders. You're welcome!...
Trump, Lindell, Ginni Thomas --- Geniuses All!: 'BradCast' 9/22/22
GOP election conspiracists have bad lawyers; Also: Garland's moving (and telling) remarks at swearing-in of new American citizens...
'Green News Report' 9/22/22
U.N. Sec-Gen wants fossil fuel industry to pay up; New plastics initiative; P.R. still lacking power and clean water; PLUS: Senate approves first climate treaty in decades...
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)
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'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Guest: Sarah Lipton-Lubet of Take Back the Court; Also: Biden positive for COVID; Report finds Newsmax lying even more than Fox 'News' about J6...
By Brad Friedman on 7/21/2022 4:08pm PT  

When you thought things couldn't get any more insane (nobody actually thought that, did they?), 79-year old President Biden tests positive for COVID. The White House says he is suffering only "very mild symptoms". We'll hope it stays that way and he gets well soon. Meanwhile, we're still busy trying to save the world on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Tonight, the bipartisan House Select Committee investigating Donald Trump's Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and his many other attempts to steal the 2020 Presidential election, holds the last of their summer series of blockbuster public hearings, for now. We'll see if Fox "News" bothers to carry this one, since they didn't last time, choosing to run an ad-free episode of Tucker Carlson's show instead. God forbid their groomed viewers turn away during commercials for even a second and learn any actual news.

But, of course, Fox isn't the only rightwing TV channel lying to their viewers day in and out about these remarkable, historic hearings, the deadly events of January 6, and all of the other ways Trump tried undermine American democracy. A new report finds that Newsmax is duping their viewers even worse than Fox, if that's possible, broadcasting at least 40 false claims about the J6 attack since the Committee's hearings began last month. Among the station's lies peddled repeatedly to their easily-played viewers: There were only a few hundred rioters in the Capitol that day (DoJ pegs the number at around 2,000); They were "unarmed" (except for all of the guns, knives, pepper spray, spears, brass knuckles, baseball bats, etc.); and that Trump ordered the National Guard to the Capitol, but was blocked by Nancy Pelosi (the President, not the Speaker of the House, commands the National Guard.)

In any event, whether Fox or Newsmax carry tonight's hearings and/or lies about them, we'll tell you the truth about them on our own Special Coverage on tomorrow's BradCast.

Today, we discuss the need for the long-overdue expansion of the Supreme Court. New polling finds approval of the Court has plummeted over the past two years. According to Marquette University Law School's poll today, 66% of Americans approved of SCOTUS in September of 2020. That number is now at stunning 38%. Their survey follows Gallup's recent finding (before the overturning of Roe v. Wade) that confidence in the Court is at an all-time historic low since they began asking the question in the 1970s.

Of course, this comes on the heels of Mitch McConnell nuking the Senate filibuster in order to pack the High Court with Donald Trump's three corrupt, extremist Republican nominees, including one of them (Amy Coney Barrett) just eight days before the 2020 election. That, after McConnell had changed the size of the Court for over a year while refusing to seat Barack Obama's nominee to the seat vacated by Justice Antonin Scalia in February of 2016, because, according to Mitch, the vacancy came just too close to a Presidential election, when the voice of the American people deserved to be heard first.

But now, with SCOTUS closing out its term with an unprecedented spate of radical rulings --- rolling back long-held Miranda rights; throwing out states Second Amendment rights to well-regulate the concealed carry of firearms; further eroding the long-standing Constitutional separation of church and state; blocking the Environmental Protection Agency from protecting the environment through the regulation of carbon pollution; and, of course, overturning the privacy rights and reproductive freedoms established 50 years ago by Roe v. Wade --- it sure seems like a re-balancing (and de-corrupting) is in order!

Given the striking down of privacy rights in Roe, Democrats in the House have been scrambling to codify reproductive freedom into federal law, along with bills that guarantee the right to both interracial and same-sex marriage, and even the right to use contraception. That, after the Court struck down the same privacy rights in 'Roe' that are the basis of those other Constitutional rights that Justice Clarence Thomas called for revisiting in his concurrence to the majority opinion overturning Roe.

But while codifying those rights into federal statute is critical (most House Republicans voted against all of them this week!), expanding the Court, to UNpack and UNsteal it, so that it represents the American people once again is even more critical.

On Monday, a group of Democratic lawmakers called for exactly that, touting their Judiciary Act of 2021 [PDF] which would expand the number of seats on the Court from 9 to 13. But that measure, so far, has not yet even received a Committee hearing, much less a vote on the Democratic-controlled House floor. What gives?

We're joined today by SARAH LIPTON-LUBET, Executive Director of the non-profit Take Back the Court organization, to discuss exactly that. Her group was formed in 2018 to warn of the danger then posed to democracy itself by the GOP's stolen Supreme Court, and to call for its expansion as the only strategy to re-balance SCOTUS after its 2016 theft. [We spoke with Aaron Belkin, the group's founder, back in 2020.)

"Republicans already changed the size of the Court for a year while they blockaded Merrick Garland's nomination. So a Republican power grab, that's just a part of reality. Given that, isn't a world where we fight for what's right better than a world where we surrender unilaterally?," Lipton-Lubet posits today, when I ask her about the fear expressed by some Democrats that Republicans will just take similar action the next time they are in control of both chambers of Congress and the White House. "To folks who are worried about what Republicans might do in the future, I have to say I'm really worried about what they've done already, and about what we need to do to fix the harm that they've caused in the here and now. They've stolen the Court. They've overturned Roe. They've undermined our democracy. And expanding the Court is our only shot at rebalancing the system and regaining those rights."

"This is only headed in one direction," she warns. "The ideologues on the Court are only going to get more radical. They're only going to get more unhinged. I think leaders can lead, or they try to play catch-up later after countless people have been irreparably harmed. And that's really the situation we're in."

"Living under the control of this Court --- it's not tenable. It's not sustainable. It's not going to stand," she argues. "Eventually we are going to get there." So, why are the bulk of elected Democrats, including the President, still pulling their punches and dragging their feet on this? We discuss that and much more with Lipton-Lubet today.

Finally, Desi Doyen has our latest Green News Report on a week that has been so grim for the climate that we're considering a new name for our GNR. Tune in to find out what it might be!...

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Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern on that and much more on the final day of the corrupt rightwing Supreme Court's unprecedented term...
By Brad Friedman on 6/30/2022 6:23pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It was the grand finale at the end of a U.S. Supreme Court term like no other. Now that its packed with rightwing extremists, the unleashed activists on the GOP's illegitimate 6 to 3 U.S. Supreme Court pretended on Thursday that the text of the written law doesn't say what it actually says, in order to offer a parting gift for the year to the fossil fuel industry --- as the nation and globe burn.

The Clean Air Act, as Justice Elena Kagan wrote [PDF] on behalf of the three dissenters, "directs the EPA to regulate stationary sources of any substance that 'causes, or contributes significantly to, air pollution' and that 'may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare.'" She made clear that, as the Court has determined on multiple occasions, the Environmental Protection Agency "serves as the Nation's 'primary regulator of greenhouse gas emissions.'"

But, never mind all of that. On Thursday, writing for the Court's far-right majority in West Virginia v. EPA --- and ignoring its own precedents --- Chief Justice John Roberts pretended none of those mandates existed in the law adopted by Congress in 1963 and amended a number of times over the years. Despite any actual existing Administrative rule to regulate carbon emissions by coal and gas-fired power plants --- Barack Obama's Clean Power Plan was put on hold by the Court years ago, and Donald Trump's scheme to restrict the EPA's power to do so was rejected by lower courts --- SCOTUS took up this coal-industry sponsored law suit and gave them pretty much everything they sought, text of the written law be damned.

As they did when striking down the Administration's vaccine-or-test mandate, the Court once again invoked their newly invented "Major Questions" doctrine in order to declare that any issue that may be controversial in any way may not be decided by the scientists and experts at the federal agencies created to handle such things. Instead, they must be specifically directed, by Congress, to do so. Because the Clean Air Act, which tasks the EPA with regulating dangerous pollutants --- such as carbon released by coal-fired power plants, currently exacerbating our deadly climate crisis --- doesn't actually cite "carbon" specifically, the Trump/McConnell/Roberts Court has now declared the federal agency may take no action to help reduce it. Never mind their own previous findings and, of course, the number of Americans who will die because of this ruling.

The opinion was as predictable as it is corrupt. We're joined today by the great MARK JOSEPH STERN, legal journalist and Constitutional law expert at Slate, to discuss the opinion that will not only limit the EPA from doing the job it has already been tasked with by Congress, but prevent many other federal agencies from carrying out their mandates as well. It's all part of the corporate rightwing's long "war on the Administrative State". And it's a war they are now winning --- and we are all losing.

"Massachusetts v. EPA held that the federal government must --- not can, but must --- regulate and limit carbon emissions in the United States because carbon is a pollutant under the Clean Air Act, and thus the EPA has a legal obligation to institute guidelines that reduce the level of greenhouse gases the US is emitting," Stern emphasizes, noting that today's opinion in West Virginia v. EPA "involves a regulation that does not exist."

Nonetheless, "the Supreme Court decided to take it up just to stop Joe Biden from trying" to regulate the greenhouse emissions now warming our planet at an alarming rate. "The Supreme Court," Stern adds, "decided to simply slap limitations on [the Clean Air Act] that do not exist in the text because they do not like it as a matter of policy."

As to the so-called "Major Questions" doctrine, argues Stern, "It's hard to define, because it is made up." It's not in the Constitution and, as far as he can tell, "it comes from Brett Kavanaugh's brain. This was his idea when he was on the lower court, to try to smuggle in a kind of anti-regulatory agenda into what looks like statutory interpretation."

"The basic idea is that if an agency tries to take some kind of very consequential action, that has a serious and vast impact on the people, or the economy, or private industry, then that is a 'major question', and the Congress has to give the Agency an extremely granular and explicit permission slip to do what it wants to do, otherwise the courts will block it. The problem with this test that should be clear, is that it is totally subjective. What looks like a major question to you may look like a frivolous question to me, and it really shifts policy-making over to unelected judges from experts in federal agencies."

Of course, this is just one of the many reasons I don't refer to these people as "conservatives". They don't merely interpret the law and the Constitution, as they claim. They make shit up to justify their politics. They are the "activists legislating from the bench" that Republicans pretend to oppose --- when they are trying to block Democratic appointees from positions on the bench.

There is much more today from the wise and colorful Mr. Stern, on this matter; on a separate (largely good news) ruling from the Court today on immigration policy; on the Court's opinion last week that begins to gut the famous Miranda Rights (the right to remain silent, to an attorney, etc.) for people who are detained by law enforcement (a "sleeper case" overlooked because it came on the same day that the Court overturned Roe v. Wade); on what will or can happen once the illegitimacy of this Court becomes clear to all; and on Justice Stephen Breyer's last day on the Court today before Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson was sworn in as its first-ever black female jurist.

As if that's not enough, a ruling this week by SCOTUS overturned a lower federal court that found Louisiana's newly gerrymandered Congressional District map to be an unconstitutional violation of the Voting Rights Act. The lower court ordered another black majority District to be created, as state Republicans had only one among six, in a state where one-third of population is black. The ruling was similar to another in Alabama, which SCOTUS also struck down recently, ordering both states to use the gerrymandered and unconstitutional House maps drawn by Republicans for this year's critical 2022 midterm elections.

Does this signal the Court intends to overturn the entirety of the landmark Voting Rights Act, as they did with Roe? "Yes," Stern answers, before explaining how "really, they've already done it."

And then there's the new case that SCOTUS announced today they will take up in their next term, as their destruction continues. It's an election case out of North Carolina to allow the Court to create another pretend legal notion that the Right calls the "Independent State Legislature" Doctrine.

"I am terrified about this case," Stern says, as it will almost certainly be decided to allow "state legislatures to appoint electors in the Electoral College to the losing candidate in a Presidential race. Which is exactly what Donald Trump wanted them to do in 2020, and what Ginni Thomas was urging legislators to do while her husband was trying to institute this theory."

"The American people are in deep, deep, DEEP trouble," he warns.

Please "enjoy" today's program!...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Packed Court of radical, activist GOP Justices invent imaginary 'historical' reasons to cancel reproductive freedoms, personal privacy rights, gun safety laws; Also: Many more well-established Constitutional rights now in peril; Biden, Pelosi respond; Voting remains the answer...
By Brad Friedman on 6/24/2022 6:29pm PT  

On a dark and historic day in America (and, apparently, on The BradCast), I offer a few thoughts on how unelected, radical, extremist, activists Justices (who are not "conservative" by any stretch of the imagination, please stop calling them that), who have been packed onto a stolen U.S. Supreme Court majority have only just begun the corrupt work for which their lifetime seats on the High Court were purchased. [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

On Thursday, the illegitimate Republican majority simply ignored the written text of the 2nd Amendment's mandate to "well regulate" the right to bear arms by cancelling [PDF] New York's century-old law limiting the concealed carrying of weapons in public, robbing elected state officials of their right to protect their citizenry from gun violence.

Then, on Friday, after declaring in their gun ruling that officials elected by the voters have no right to well regulate firearms, the same corrupt Justices cancelled [PDF] a half century of well-established Constitutional rights to personal privacy and reproductive freedom. The rightwing Court extremists declared that states and, indeed, the federal government, do have the right to force women to bear the child of their rapist --- even as the product of incest or sex trafficking.

In overturning 1973's Roe v. Wade (the landmark 7 to 2 majority opinion written by a non-corrupt Republican-appointed Justice), Sam Alito echoed Clarence Thomas' gun ruling one day earlier by pretending that any specific rights not in existence 233 years ago, when the Bill of Rights was written, lacks the "historical tradition" to be considered a Constitutionally-protected right. (Never mind that whole "well regulated" mandate of the 2nd Amendment which is, as it turns out, literally in the Bill of Rights.)

Neither Thomas' newly divined "historical tradition" requirement for Constitutional rights or Alito's "historical understanding of ordered liberty", are made up out of whole cloth. The concept appears nowhere in the Constitution, which actual, if uncorrupted, conservative legal experts know very well.

As horrible as all of this is, it will only get worse until the corrupt Court is unpacked and expanded to reflect the actual will of the American electorate. The Court's rulings on abortion and on gun safety are opposed by huge, bipartisan majorities.

In a separate opinion on Roe, Thomas --- arguably the Court's most corrupt Justice --- called for the Court to cancel other long-standing Constitutional rights established under the same 14th Amendment privacy rights which the Court has now dismantled in cancelling Roe. "We have a duty to 'correct the error'" by reversing the landmark opinions that established Constitutional rights to contraception, same-sex intimacy and marriage...though not inter-racial marriage for reasons that the inter-racially married Thomas failed to explain.

We share both President Biden and House Speaker Pelosi's responses to today's historically corrupt ruling, as they vow that the fight for Constitutional freedoms is not over and call on Americans to make their voices heard in response this November.

"Today the Supreme Court of the United States expressly took away a Constitutional right from the American people that it had already recognized," the President said. "They didn't limit it, they simply took it away. That's never been done to a right so important to so many Americans. But they did it."

"This fall," he later emphasized, "Roe is on the ballot. Personal freedoms are on the ballot. The right to privacy, liberty, equality --- they're all on the ballot."

They are indeed.

After plenty more on all of the above, we conclude today with our latest Green News Report, most topics of which are also on the ballot this November. Please prepare your voting plans now...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Legal journalist Mark Joseph Stern; Also: Republicans move quickly to protect the families of SCOTUS Justices, but not yours...
By Brad Friedman on 6/14/2022 5:57pm PT  

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...

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Guest: Salon's Heather Digby Parton; Also: New jobs under Biden blow away records; Trump wanted to bomb Mexico, says his former SecDef...
By Brad Friedman on 5/6/2022 6:32pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The five Republican Supreme Court Justices who were revealed this week to have voted to overturn the well-settled law of 1973's landmark 'Roe v. Wade' and the Constitutional freedoms it guaranteed for the right to privacy and reproductive healthcare, all appear to have lied about their positions on well-established precedent during their Senate confirmation hearings. And now Republicans are running for cover and Democrats are trying to figure out how to respond. All of which is shaking up "Conventional Wisdom" about this November's midterm elections. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Before we get there with our guest today, however, some quick news. The Labor Department reported on Friday that 428,000 new jobs were added, beating economists' expectations for the month once again. Unemployment remains near a 50-year low and hourly wages are now 5.5% higher than they were a year ago. The U.S. economy has now regained nearly 95% of the 22 million jobs lost during Trump's mishandled pandemic, according to the New York Times, and Joe Biden's jobs numbers continue to smash all-time Presidential records with 12 straight months of job growth higher than 400,000. That has never happened since recording keeping of national jobs numbers began in 1939.

As Steve Benen observes, "Over the course of the first three years of Donald Trump’s term --- when the then-Republican president said the United States’ economy was the greatest in the history of the planet --- the economy created roughly 6.5 million jobs. This includes all of 2017, 2018, and 2019." That was all before the pandemic. Meanwhile, since Biden took office in January 2021, just 15 months ago, 8.8 million jobs have been created, "well above the combined total of Trump's first three years."

And the news of Trump's disastrous reign continues to pour out from the memoir, to be published next week, from his former Secretary of Defense, Mark Esper. Earlier in the week, we learned Trump wanted soldiers to shoot Black Lives Matter protesters in the street following the police murder of George Floyd. Last night, the Times' Maggie Haberman reports that Esper's book details Trump's repeated suggestion in 2020 that the U.S. bomb our southern neighbor. He wanted to "shoot missiles into Mexico to destroy the drug labs," and then lie about it to the public, says Esper. "We could just shoot some Patriot missiles and take out the labs, quietly," Esper reports Trump as telling him, "no one would know it was us." He made that suggestion twice, to a stunned Esper.

Trump's last Senate-confirmed SecDef also reveals that a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff began researching the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office after being shaken by his erratic behavior during a meeting on China in May of 2020. There's more. Tune in for it.

NEXT, we're joined by our old friend HEATHER DIGBY PARTON, award-winning opinion and analysis journalist from Salon and Digby's Hullabaloo to help us make sense of all of the considerable fallout following this week's stunning leak of a SCOTUS majority draft opinion that would overturn 'Roe v. Wade' in its entirety.

Among the related points discussed: Parton's take on the on draft opinion itself; why it may have been leaked; the GOP's "big tell" reaction revealing "that they weren't really prepared" for this in advance of an election they thought they had in the bag; and the need for Democrats to coalesce around a message in solid response to the unprecedented removal of freedoms for Americans which will not stop with abortion.

Digby also shares thoughts on the show vote that Dems have scheduled for next week to codify 'Roe' into law, even though its certain to fail, if only because they won't be able to wrangle the votes needed to overcome a GOP filibuster or to waive the 60-vote requirement in the U.S. Senate. (Remember: Republicans voted to do away with the filibuster for Supreme Court Justices when they packed the Court with the lying Justices Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and Barrett during the Trump Administration.)

But Parton would also like to see a series of separate votes on related matters to get all members on record. For example, a law that establishes "that you're not allowed to punish women for any pregnancy-related crime" and one that would protect abortion in cases of rape or incest. "Are you for rape?' Get them on the record," she advises. "If you want to raise awareness about what these people are really talking about, maybe you need to get more explicit about it."

Also, we discuss my belief that buying into the Conventional Wisdom emanating from the corporate media which presumes Dems will take a shellacking this November is a huge mistake in these decidedly unconventional times.

FINALLY today, Desi Doyen's got our latest Green News Report, on the EU's plan for a Russian oil embargo; CA's investigation of Big Oil lies about plastic recycling; and plummeting levels at western reservoirs leading to unprecedented water cuts and revealing...wait for it...long dead bodies.

Enjoy!...

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Guest: Attorney Jessica Mason Pieklo of Rewired News Group on leaked Court opinion to end reproductive freedom by overturning 'Roe v. Wade'...
By Brad Friedman on 5/3/2022 6:11pm PT  

You've heard the stunning news from the GOP's packed and stolen Supreme Court by now. But whatever you have heard, it's likely even worse than that, as explained on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show follows below.]

For years in the U.S., polling has found that huge majorities of Americans oppose overturning Roe v. Wade, 1973's landmark, 7 to 2 SCOTUS opinion (with five Republicans voting in its majority), establishing the now, long-settled Constitutional right to abortion services in all 50 states. Polling released today from just last week confirms Roe's popularity, with approximately 2 to 1 majority support across the country.

On Monday night, however, Politico published an unprecedented leak of a 98-page draft opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito, on behalf of a reported 5 to 4 Court majority, that would completely overturn Roe and a number of other rulings that had further affirmed it more recent years.

Unless one of the Justices decides to change their vote between now and the final release of the opinion over the next two months, it will then be left to states to decide whether they wish to allow women the right to have the procedure. In nearly two dozen states, it will immediately become unlawful if the draft majority opinion is published. In Texas, for example, "The second Roe is struck down, it will be a first degree felony --- punishable by life in prison --- for a Texas doctor to perform an abortion for a woman who was raped and impregnated by a family member."

As terrible as that is, it could get even worse. Earlier rulings that helped establish the right to reproductive freedom for women, and several that came after Roe, would then be teed up to be overturned as well by the radical Rightwing activists now packed onto our SCOTUS. Rights to purchase contraception and for same-sex marriage could also be overturned, just to name two such "unenumerated rights" that, like abortion, have been established by the Court even though they are not specifically named in the Constitution.

And for those who have been conned by the same liars who said claimed Roe would never be overturned, that the GOP didn't really want that to happen, who are now being told that overturning Roe would simply leave it to states to decide whether or not women are allowed to enjoy personal liberty, there is already a national movement afoot to ban abortion at the federal level. If Roe is struck down, as now appears almost certain, all it will require is a GOP majority in each chamber of Congress and a Republican in the White House to turn the clock back 50 years in all 50 states.

Lots to discuss today, obviously, including the dishonest remarks Samuel Alito offered during his 2006 Senate confirmation hearings before he was granted his lifetime appointment, when he lied in his answer as to whether he believed Roe to be settled law. Also, regrets today --- apparently, they have a few --- from theoretically pro-choice Republican Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. Both previously said they were convinced by Trump's anti-choice nominees to the High Court --- Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett --- that Roe would remain in place. So, they each supported Trump's nominations, even after Mitch McConnell blew up the filibuster rule for lifetime appointments to the Supreme Court in order to pack them onto it. In Barrett's case, she was seated just eight days before the 2020 Presidential election, after Republicans refused to even allow a vote on Barack Obama's nominee for a year following the death of Antonin Scalia in 2016.

We're joined today by attorney and former law school teacher turned journalist and podcaster, JESSICA MASON PIEKLO, Executive Editor of Rewire News Group. She last joined us on the program back when Kavanaugh was similarly lying his way through his own confirmation hearings.

She predicted in June of 2021 --- when the Court first took up Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, the case now being decided by the Court, the Mississippi case seeking to ban abortions after 15 weeks, in violation of Roe --- that SCOTUS was preparing to overturn Roe entirely. "This is the Supreme Court Case That Will End 'Roe v. Wade,'" she warned at the time. And that was well before Barrett was even nominated.

"There was no reason for the Supreme Court to take up the Dobbs case unless it had plans to overturn Roe v. Wade. That's just a fundamental fact," she explains today. "At the time, there was not a single federal court in the country that thought that law was Constitutional. Every court that looked at this issue, whether it was Mississippi's law or copycat laws in other states across the country, had said the Constitution, Roe v. Wade, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, very clearly do not allow states the power to ban abortion before fetal viability. Then Amy Coney Barrett happened, and here we are."

When Dobbs was taken up at SCOTUS last year, she explains, "the question was whether or not the Court was going to uphold the Mississippi law within the confines of Roe v. Wade. So, as of June last year, even the state of Mississippi hadn't asked the Court to formally overturn Roe v. Wade." But after Barrett was seated, just before the 2020 election, MS began asking the Court to fully overturn it. "It's a full bait-and-switch," charges Pieklo today.

Worse, she explains, Alito's leaked draft opinion "doesn't just call for overturning 'Roe'. It really attacks privacy rights writ large, makes it clear that they're coming for rights like marriage equality...sodomy bans...birth control. All of those things are there. Fetal personhood is there. There's just so much to be concerned about [with] the plans that are there."

Think none of that stuff could ever happen? Yeah, Collins and Murkowski probably agree with you.

What can be done? We discuss. But, as we've been explaining for some time, never mind Conventional Wisdom that says Democrats will take a shellacking this November. These are decidedly unconventional times. Stop whining. Get to work...

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Guest: Activist, author Kenny Bruno on 'DEFCON for Democracy'; Also: Fourth student dies after MI high school gun massacre...
By Brad Friedman on 12/1/2021 5:51pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It's a grim day in America. But it's one that every American should be paying very close attention to nonetheless. [Audio link to full show posted at the end of this summary.]

First up today, a fourth student, a 17-year old, has died following Tuesday's mass shooting by a 15-year old at Oxford High School in Michigan. The other three victims who were killed, as well as seven other students who remained in the hospital overnight after being shot, were all aged 14 to 17. The shooter used his father's new semi-automatic pistol purchased just last Friday to carry out the massacre. There were still seven more bullets in the weapon when he surrendered to authorities. But, that's "freedom" for ya in 2021 America, apparently.

On Wednesday morning, the Republicans' stolen and packed 6 to 3 U.S. Supreme Court majority met to consider removing the previously long-settled freedom for a woman to determine her own reproductive rights in all 50 states. The case heard at SCOTUS was Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the last remaining abortion clinic in the state of Mississippi, where legislators have adopted a law that would ban all abortions in the state after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The measure was overturned in lower courts after being found a clear violation of the nearly 50-year old Roe v. Wade precedent set in 1973 and reaffirmed as settled law in 1992's Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

When MS filed their initial appeal at the Supreme Court they sought approval for their then-radical 15-week ban. It was only after last year's death of abortion rights champion, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, and her subsequent replacement on the Court by the far-right Amy Coney Barret just eight days before the 2020 Presidential election, that the state decided to also ask the court to strike down Roe in its entirety.

Little, if anything, has changed legally since 1992 regarding the reproductive rights Constitutionally guaranteed by Roe and reaffirmed by Casey. But the make-up of the High Court itself has changed radically. Its majority has been stolen by Republicans who cancelled the filibuster in the Senate in order to pack three, hard-right Donald Trump appointees onto it. That fact, made clear by MS legislators themselves, led Justice Sonia Sotomayor to aptly ask the state's Republican Attorney General today: "Will this institution survive the stench that this creates in the public perception that the Constitution and its reading are just political acts?"

Good question. Of course, the answer is that those on the political Right don't actually care. As the twice federally indicted Steve Bannon recently noted on his War Room radio show/podcast, Republicans are only interested in "taking over" --- from school boards to the White House --- and whether or not their hardball methods result in "a Constitutional crisis," they really don't care. "We're a big and tough country and we can handle that," he preached to his followers.

To that end, Republican officials across the country are, right now, hoping to break American democracy itself, by installing loyalist Trump party apparatchik in key election administration positions, from precinct judges to county clerks to canvassing boards to Secretaries of State, as Washington Post reported in great detail on Monday. The Plot to Steal the 2024 Election is underway RIGHT NOW. Ignore these warnings at all of our peril.

We're joined today by longtime progressive activist and author KENNY BRUNO who offered a similarly chilling --- and even more direct --- warning at Truthout over the weekend, spelling out how Trump and the GOP have already "laid the groundwork for assuming the U.S. presidency regardless of the result of the 2024 election." He details today how "most of the conditions they would need to execute [their plan] is already in place."

"Often you see it covered, or you see various aspects covered, as if they were disparate things," Bruno explains, "like the treatment of Liz Cheney, the sham audit in Arizona, the repetition of the Big Lie, the new voter suppression laws in 19 states --- covered as if they are disparate things. But the simplest explanation is that they are all part of a plan," he charges, before spelling out exactly how that plan is meant to work between now and the certification of state electors on January 6, 2025.

To "undermine faith in elections" in order to steal a Presidential election, Bruno argues, "you would want radical state legislatures, especially in swing states. You would want a majority of states with a majority of loyal members of Congress. You would want to purge moderate representatives and election officials who might not go along with ending democracy, who might not play ball. You'd want a compliant Supreme Court. You'd want to intimidate the election officials who are left. I could go on...These are things that you need in place. If you look now at Trump and the GOP, most of those boxes are already checked. And they're part of a comprehensive plan."

What --- if anything --- can be done about it? Well, the options in response, as also spelled out by Bruno in his op-ed and on today's program, are not great. But knowing and understanding what is going on is a critical first step. While we have been warning and reporting on this stuff seemingly forever (for example, while the actual attempt to steal the 2020 election was underway in advance of the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol), it seems the warnings are not being adequately amplified by either corporate media or Democrats, as Bruno sees it.

He goes on to note that his originally suggested title for his Truthout piece was "DEFCON for Democracy," before the headline was somewhat softened by editors. "I think if you understand the threat to be that severe, then you have to take drastic action. Unless you're talking about it, and preparing people for drastic action, they're not going to understand why it's justified," cautions Bruno. "This is a real threat, it's a real plan. The evidence is that it's being carried out. And if you want to stop it, you might have to take some drastic action."

"I would love to be wrong about the whole thing, to be honest," he concedes. "I think the most important thing at the moment is to talk about it, to call it out. Because if you don't socialize people to the idea that this steal, subversion, gaming of the Electoral College is underway, they won't be ready to accept your actions to defend it."

As noted, it's a grim day and a grim show today, but one that we hope will be well worth your time to listen in full...

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Guest: Legal reporter Mark Joseph Stern on activist Alito's 'totally fabricated' new rules for Voting Rights Act enforcement and much more; Also: Corporations break vow on donations to insurrectionist GOPers...
By Brad Friedman on 7/9/2021 5:04pm PT  

On today's BradCast: A very lively conversation with one of our favorite guests...about a very dark moment in our nation's history. [Audio link to full show is posted at bottom of this summary.]

Last week, on the final day of its term this year, the 6 Republican Justices on the GOP's stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court majority, "turned back the clock on voting rights," according to UC Irvine election law professor Rick Hasen. A week after Justice Samuel Alito opinion for the majority in Brnovich v. DNC was published, Hasen is "angry" that "so much of the public does not realize what a hit American democracy has taken," as the ruling "reopens the door to a United States in which states can put up roadblocks to minority voting and engage in voter suppression with few legal consequences once a state has raised tenuous and unsupported concerns about the risk of voter fraud. It's exactly the opposite of what Congress intended."

We share Hasen's fury today. Not only about the activist Rightwing SCOTUS jurists legislating from the bench to wholly rewrite the intent of Congress, but also about them ignoring the couldn't-be-clearer, simple meaning of the plain text of the 15th Amendment. The entire thing is only two sentences long. The first declares "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude." The second states that "The CONGRESS shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation." [Emphasis added for our six deceitful, dishonest SCOTUS Justices.]

Once again, the Supreme Court has chosen to simply ignore that second sentence in --- yet again --- gutting the Voting Rights Act, the appropriate legislation Congress wrote, and has amended to strengthen several times, in order to enforce the 15th Amendment, as literally directed by the Constitution. And, once again, the Roberts Court has put the lie to the bogus claim by the Right that the Republican appointees are "originalists" or "Constitutional textualists" who believe only in the literal, plain text meaning of Constitution as it was written. That is clearly, and always has been, a bald-faced lie.

We're joined today by the great MARK JOSEPH STERN, legal reporter at Slate, to discuss, at term's end, the outrage of the "mangled" Brnovich opinion, which now allows Arizona and other Republican controlled states to simply ignore the expressed intent of Congress' specific legislation barring voting laws that result in disproportionate disenfranchisement of minority voters and pretends that the Judiciary, not Congress, has the "power to enforce" the Constitution's 15th Amendment.

"You're dead right about the Fifteenth Amendment," Stern tells me. "And I do think it's worth noting that all of the Reconstruction amendments expressly empower Congress to enforce them. Because the framers of these amendments after the Civil War recognized that it was crucial not to just rely on the federal courts to protect rights, that Congress itself needed to play a leading role in the protection of Constitutional rights. And, particularly, the protection of political equality for people of all races."

"The conservative Justices [they're not "conservative", which we discuss as well!] have adopted this position not just of judicial supremacy but judicial arrogance, that the framers of the Reconstruction amendments couldn't possibly have intended to give Congress power to go beyond the Supreme Court's own interpretation of the Constitution.," Stern fumes. "This is a theme that we see from conservative justices over and over again --- where they say 'We're the ones who decide what counts as a right. We're the ones who decide what counts as legal and illegal, and Congress has nothing to say. Congress can only enforce our own rulings. What five of us say on this Supreme Court overrules what everyone says in Congress and the elected democratic branches. That has led to this twisted position where we don't see a lot of litigators actually speaking about the text of the 15th Amendment because the court has said, 'We sit at the top of the hierarchy, we get to decide, and all Congress can do is enforce our positions.'"

Stern also joins Hasen's (and my) anger in seeing SCOTUS blatantly ignore Congress's express intent for Section 2 of the VRA to prevent voting laws that result in the disenfranchisement of minorities. "What Justice Alito has done," Stern tells us, amounts to simply "making up" a new rule that is "totally fabricated" and "nowhere in the text" of either the law or the Constitution, in setting new "guideposts" for the use of the VRA's Section 2. "The law says very explicitly that any voting restrictions that results in disproportionate impact on racial minorities is illegal."

At the same time that the Court allowed Arizona's new voter suppression laws, Stern notes the irony of Chief Justice John Roberts, on the very same day in another "bitterly divided" 6 to 3 opinion (Americans for Prosperity Foundation v. Bonta), blocking the state of California's law that allowed its Attorney General to learn the name of "dark money" donors to non-profit groups in order to enforce state laws and limits. All of which, Stern observes, bodes very darkly for both what is to come in the next term of SCOTUS (major cases on guns, abortion and affirmative action are on the docket) and beyond --- not to mention any laws Democrats in Congress may pass (if they can ever reform the filibuster) to protect voting rights.

"In fact, I have been saying for a long time, unfortunately, that this Supreme Court will strike down large portions, if not all, of the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act," Stern warns. "Next term is winding up to be one of the most catastrophic terms for progressives, for the left, in history --- in the entire history of the country."

With that bright news, we also discuss the disappointment of 82-year old, Democratic-appointed Justice Stephen Breyer failing to announce his retirement last week as many hoped, so he could be replaced by a Democratic White House and Senate, while both still exist. And, yes, there is much more in our conversation today regarding SCOTUS at the end of its first term with three far-right activist jurists packed onto it by Senate Republicans who happily blocked a Democratic appointee to the Court for year, before unilaterally killing the Senate filibuster to seat all three of Trump's appointees.

Also today, remember all of those major corporations who pretended to express outrage after the January 6th insurrection and the passage of voter suppression laws around the country, vowing to halt corporate donations to members of Congress who voted against the certification of Joe Biden's decisive victory over Trump? Yeah, as we warned you months ago, most of them didn't actually mean it. Now we have much more proof...

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Guest: Marilyn Marks of Coalition for Good Governance; Also: SCOTUS takes up abortion; Gaetz in trouble; Israel bombs AP's building in Gaza...
By Brad Friedman on 5/17/2021 6:54pm PT  

As AP reports today, a new lawsuit "against [Georgia's] secretary of state and the members of the State Election Board was filed in federal court in Atlanta by county election board members, individual voters, election volunteers, nonprofit organizations and a journalist." As broken on today's BradCast, that journalist is me. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

I am one of the several named plaintiffs in the 200-page suit [PDF] filed in U.S. District Court on Monday seeking to block a number of outrageous and dangerous provisions in the state GOP's new voter-suppression bill. While the measure, SB202 [PDF], adopted by GA Republicans, does a lot of terrible stuff, some of which is well known by now (making it harder to vote by mail, banning absentee drop boxes, blocking the distribution of food or water on long voting lines), much of which will disproportionately suppress minority voters, there are a number of other provisions which are simply jaw-dropping, but have not yet been challenged in the several suits previously filed against the law by a number of civil rights and voting rights groups.

My part in the suit, filed today by the non-partisan, non-profit, indispensable Coalition for Good Governance, revolves around press freedoms which are outrageously and unconstitutionally trampled by SB202. In fact, as discussed on the show today with the Coalition's Executive Director, MARILYN MARKS, no small amount of the detailed reporting we have done here over the years focused on Georgia has now been criminalized by the new statute!

As detailed in the complaint (see the section on "Plaintiff FRIEDMAN" beginning on p. 101), it is now unlawful to report on "mail balloting discrepancies or security concerns that he or The BRAD BLOG or BradCast journalists may personally observe as members of the press"; "Plaintiff FRIEDMAN will be injured because the party appointed observers he has relied on to supply first-hand accounts...are are prohibited under penalty of misdemeanor from reporting their observations" on Georgia elections to me; As Marks explains, photographs that I or others may have taken in a polling place and used on the blog would be illegal; Observers from the media watching the tallying of absentee ballots will be committing a crime just by reporting on how many ballots they are "estimating" or "attempting to estimate" have been counted or are left to be tallied, according to the language of the hastily written SB2020 ("It's a thought crime!," Marks charges. "Literally, it says you cannot 'estimate' or 'attempt to estimate' anything about votes in the ballot processing room for mail ballots!"); Video interviews or photographs taken inside of counting rooms or in polling places in front Georgia's giant, new, unverifiable touchscreen voting systems could be evidence of a felony(!) under the new law, which poll workers, poll watchers, media observers and even voters could now be charged with under state law!

"On BRAD BLOG," Marks observes, "you frequently post a picture, many a picture of election activity, including people in the mail ballot rooms looking at hand-marked voted ballots. To take a picture of a ballot now is a misdemeanor." Yes, those posted photos would now be evidence of a crime. "You would not be permitted to take a picture of anonymous ballots. We see thousands of pictures, every election, of voted ballots being counted. But for some reason --- I guess we know what reason --- they are criminalizing it."

Yes, the photo used above, as taken from the complaint's numerous examples, of voters voting at Atlanta's State Farm Arena last year in Fulton County, could be used as evidence of a felony by the Reuters photo-journalist, Chris Aluka Berry, who took it.

As the suit notes, "Plaintiff FRIEDMAN is already injured by SB202 because the criminalization of constitutionally protected activity has a chilling effect on his exercise of First Amendment rights" and because "Plaintiff FRIEDMAN is threatened with injuries arising from SB202’s prior restraints on his First Amendment right of free speech and right of freedom of the press."

We have "reported on Georgia election integrity and election security hundreds of times over the last almost twenty years," the lawsuit accurately explains. Much of that coverage could now constitute a state crime under this horrible, unconstitutional law. "I have a feeling they will find any little tripwire they can about the two of us," Marks tells me. "If you were complimentary toward Georgia, I don't think you'd have any problems."

This BradCast, for example, from June of last year, featuring a Democratic Party post-election adjudication observer (and now co-plaintiff in this suit) Jeanne DuFort --- breaking the news of her discovery that GA's new Dominion tabulation computers were failing to count votes on tens of thousands of ballots --- would have been a crime in several ways, according to the state's new law.

There are other provisions in SB202 of concern as well --- beyond those being challenged in several of the voting rights lawsuits --- as Marks explains in the Coalition's press release today, from the law's "Takeover Provision" that permits bi-partisan County Elections Boards to be removed entirely and replaced by a single partisan, for virtually any reason (even minor infractions by a low-level worker up to four years ago!) to a few items we didn't have time cover on today's show, like the impossible new deadlines for requesting absentee ballots (in cases before a run-off election, the deadline to request such a ballot for it will now end before the original election is even certified to include a run-off!) and more.

As AP highlights in its report today, the suit argues: "Liberty requires at least three essential things — an unfettered right to vote, freedom of speech, and the meaningful separation of powers. This lawsuit is necessary to preserve individual constitutional rights, and constitutional government, against the attacks that SB202 makes on these three pillars of liberty."

Marks elucidates today on "Those three pillars of liberty: the right to vote, the right to free speech, and the right to separation of powers. What's happening here is the first one that they are violating is that separation of powers. That is a key one. Once they grab all of the powers, they close the doors. Yeah, they still have to deal with the pesky press and pesky watchers, but not anymore --- not if they criminalize your reports."

So, yeah. Even as its strange to become a part of a story I've been covering for so long, I am very proud to be a plaintiff in this lawsuit against SB202, which Georgia's Republican Governor and Sec. of State falsely claim "makes it easier to vote and harder to cheat". In truth, Marks told me off air after the show, the opposite is true. "It makes it harder to vote and easier to cheat," she said.

Also today, the GOP's packed and stolen U.S. Supreme Court announced it's taking up Mississippi's restriction on abortion rights that was blocked by a lower court. This is not good news for freedom lovers and those who oppose Big Government coming between a woman and her doctor; A former elected Florida official who is a buddy of Rep. Matt Gaetz has agreed to a federal plea deal that requires he tells federal prosecutors all that he knows about Gaetz' alleged sex trafficking of a minor; And in Gaza City over the weekend, Israel outrageously targeted and destroyed a 12-story high-rise building housing AP's office for the past 15 years. It's top floor cameras have been the eyes for the world, witnessing, as the news agency reported this weekend, "24-hour live shots as militants’ rockets arched toward Israel and Israeli airstrikes hammered the city and its surrounding area this week."

Those cameras will no longer be there to bear witness to the world. As AP's President noted in a statement describing the attack as "shocking and horrifying" on Saturday, "The world will know less about what is happening in Gaza because of what happened today."

And, in Georgia, if SB202 is allowed to stay in place, the world will know less about what is happening in the Peach State's elections because of it. As in Gaza, I suspect that is the point...

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Guest: SCOTUS expert, author Ian Millhiser; Also: Amazon unionization vote goes down in AL, union cries foul; Biden creates commission to study SCOTUS reform; Everyone loves hating on Cruz and Graham...
By Brad Friedman on 4/9/2021 6:02pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Maybe we've been too quick to say that Republicans no longer have any governing philosophy or legislative agenda. They do. And it's being carried out. Just not be elected officials. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

But first up today, following 'good' news for Alabamians on yesterday's BradCast, as the state's corrupt, lying, homophobic, vote suppressing Republican Sec. of State John Merrill was publicly revealed as the sleazy, cheating, liar that he is (joining a very long line of corrupt, lying, cheating top Republicans in the state, as we break down today), some less good news today for workers in the state.

The unionization vote at Amazon's warehouse in Bessemer, near Birmingham, apparently lost by a nearly two to one margin, after millions were spent in a campaign by the company to scare and misinform its workers. The union is crying foul, charging that the nation's second largest private employer violated labor laws in its campaign to propagandize workers at the facility. They vow to challenge the company's "lies, deception and illegal activities" with the National Labor Relations Board.

"We won’t rest until workers' voices are heard fairly under the law," the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) President railed in a statement on Friday after results were announced, claiming the company illegally interfered with the vote. "When they are, we believe they will be victorious in this historic and critical fight to unionize the first Amazon warehouse in the United States."

For their part, Amazon disputes all of the union's charges, asserting that their "employees heard far more anti-Amazon messages from the union, policymakers, and media outlets than they heard from us." That, even after Amazon posted anti-union messages, literally, inside of bathroom stalls at their Bessemer fulfillment facility and forced workers to sit through hours of seminars on the evils of unionization.

Meanwhile, at the White House today, Joe Biden announced his new Executive Order to form a bi-partisan Presidential Commission to examine potential reform of the U.S. Supreme Court, as well as the federal judiciary overall. The declaration makes good on a 2020 campaign promise in response to calls for expansion of the GOP's stolen and packed Court. A report is expected in six months, following a series of public hearings by the Commission. Of course, any actual reforms to SCOTUS would likely require ending or modifying the Senate filibuster, which Lord Joe Manchin has expressly prohibited at this time.

As our guest notes today, that all works out great for the Republican Party who, at first glance, appear to no longer have any actual party principles, governing philosophy or legislative agenda, beyond suppressing voting rights in order to keep themselves in power.

But that's not actually true, argues our guest, Supreme Court expert IAN MILLHISER, Senior correspondent at Vox.com and author of the new book, The Agenda: How a Republican Supreme Court Is Reshaping America. He details in both the book and his recent New York Times op-ed that the GOP does, in fact, have a legislative agenda. But it's not being carried out by either of the elected branches. "Its agenda lives in the judiciary," he explains, "and especially in the Supreme Court."

Millhiser runs down the extraordinary agenda that activist jurists at SCOTUS have accomplished on behalf of Republicans from 2011 to 2020, and warns there is much more to come as "the Supreme Court is now the locus of policy-making" while GOP lawmakers in Congress have halted the passage of pretty much any actual legislation.

"We are basically at the end of a lost decade in Congress," he tells me. "From 2011 when Republicans took over the House, until 2020 when the pandemic happened and doing nothing really wasn't an option, Congress did a lot of nothing.  They passed the Trump tax bill, but there was very little major legislation enacted." During that same period, however, the Republican-dominated activist SCOTUS was exceedingly busy.

"They severely weakened the Voting Rights Act. They basically dismantled much of our campaign finance law. They permitted states to opt-out of the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. The Supreme Court created this new religious liberty doctrine that allows people with religious objections to the law to diminish the rights of other people. They weakened sexual and racial harassment laws. They expanded something called forced arbitration, which allows your boss, or really any company you deal with, to force you to sign away your right to sue them. They undercut public sector unions. They effectively eliminated the President's recess appointments power. They halted Obama's Clean Power Plan," Millhiser summarizes.

He goes on to preview more of what the Court has in store, particularly when it comes to voting rights, noting that this Court has been "attacking democracy in two ways --- by preventing the people in office from governing, and then also by harming the process that we use to pick who our leaders are."

So, how can this mess be turned around? Millhiser warns it's unlikely to be correctly quickly. But, until it can be, Americans must continue to vote in large enough numbers to ensure there are lawmakers in office who actually want to protect democracy rather than destroy it and, ultimately, reform our broken judiciary.

Finally, we leave on a slightly more upbeat note, with more from former Republican House Speaker John Boehner's new book in which describes his own party as "unrecognizable" now; says he was wrong to go along with the impeachment of Bill Clinton; calls out the rightwing media echo chamber for poisoning our politics; blames Donald Trump for sowing "chaos" and inciting the "bloody insurrection on January 6th" by "claim[ing] voter fraud without any evidence", while reserving his greatest contempt for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

Why is that a "more upbeat note"? Because it gives us the chance to close today with a new song from national treasure Randy Rainbow about how much America loves to hate on both Senators Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham. Enjoy!...

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L.A. County faces down new COVID spike; AZ, WI certify Biden victory; Team Trump cases shredded by federal and state courts in PA; Callers ring in on Trump's SCOTUS 'Trump Card'...
By Brad Friedman on 11/30/2020 7:36pm PT  

On today's BradCast we try to catch you up with at least five days of important news from over the long holiday weekend. That's damned near impossible in the Trump Era, unfortunately. But we did get about half way there, with the most important parts of Trump's continuing attempt to steal the 2020 election (yes, that's still ongoing!) before turning to some excellent listener calls...

Among the stories we did catch up on, and were able to offer some important context for...

  • If someone could wrap Joe Biden in bubble wrap and place him in an hermetically sealed room for the next 50 days, it would be greatly appreciated.
  • Los Angeles County has now implemented among the most severe COVID-19 restrictions in the nation amid a recent spike in cases and hospitalizations that threatens to soon overwhelm our health care system here. That said, California and L.A. have among the lowest per capita rates of infections, hospitalizations and death in the nation, but the rates have doubled in recent weeks. So, if we need to take these emergency measures, we only hope that places where it's really bad --- for example, in the Midwest and Texas --- take action now to save lives. Election Day is past and so its no longer necessary for GOP leaders in those states to pretend everything about the coronavirus is a hoax in order to try and re-elect Donald Trump;
  • Arizona certifies its election results, confirming that Biden officially defeated Trump by more than 10,000 votes, in a state that hasn't gone "blue" in decades. The certification also clears the way for Democratic Senator-elect Mark Kelly to be seated in the U.S. Senate this week, following his defeat of Republican incumbent Sen. Martha McSally in what was a Special Election for the Senate on November 3rd. McSally has now lost two Senate seats to Democrats in a row. And the loony state GOP Chairwoman and failed Congressional candidate Kelli Ward is continuing to challenge the 2020 results --- even as the state's very Trumpy Republican Governor and Attorney General stand by them;
  • Wisconsin certifies its elections results, confirming that Biden officially defeated Trump by just over 20,000 votes in a state that Trump is said to have defeated Hillary Clinton by a similar margin in 2016. The certification follows a partial "recount" in the state, paid for by the Trump Campaign at a cost of $3 million. The second count in Milwaukee and Dane Counties, where Trump sought to the re-tally, ended up netting an additional 87 votes overall for Biden. (Another artful deal by the world's greatest businessman);
  • Over the weekend Trump lost resoundingly in two different cases, one in federal court and one in state court, in Pennsylvania. One loss came from the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, where three Republican-appointed federal judges upbraided the Trump Campaign's case, with the Trump-appointed Judge writing the scathing opinion to include: "Charges of unfairness are serious. But calling an election unfair does not make it so. Charges require specific allegations and then proof. We have neither here. ... Voters, not lawyers, choose the President. Ballots, not briefs, decide elections." The state case did not go any better for Team Trump, with a unanimous verdict by the state Supreme Court finding that the GOP legislators' attempt to toss out the election based on claims that the state's new absentee ballot law violates Pennsylvania's Constitution was filed much too late. The same law was in effect during the state primary earlier this year, and the legislators had no complaint about it. NEITHER OF THE TWO CASES, NOR ANY OF THE OTHER FAILED CASES FROM TEAM TRUMP ALLEGED FRAUD. Claims about "massive fraud" are only made by Trump and Giuliani and friends on Twitter and Fox "News". Courts require actual evidence and apparently, Trump has none to offer;
  • We then open phones to callers with some questions about all of this stuff, including the one Trump Card that the President still hopes to play at the GOP's stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court. There, Trump hopes for an opinion that only state legislatures may make any laws or rules or regulations concerning the "times, places and manner of holding elections", as referenced in the U.S. Constitution. With such an opinion from a majority of Justices, if they can get it, Team Trump believes they can toss out election results this year, and have GOP state legislatures award electors to Trump instead of Biden, the popular winner. It's a radical, extremist (and arguably ridiculous) "originalist" interpretation of the U.S. Constitution, but Kavanaugh and Gorsuch have already indicated they buy it, Alito and Thomas are likely to go along with it, and the matter would potentially be left to Trump's most recent appoint, Amy Coney Barrett, to decide.

Many are turning away to other matters now that they believe the monster has been vanquished once and for all. We've seen enough monster movies to know that it's a terrible idea to walk away after you think the monster is dead, even while they are lying there with an axe in their apparently lifeless hand...

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Guest: Univ. of KY election law professor Joshua A. Douglas on the President's desperate strategy as PA, GA, NV and probably AZ are all set to give the former Veep his Electoral College victory...
By Brad Friedman on 11/5/2020 7:22pm PT  

On today's BradCast: it's all over but the desperate Donald Trump tantrums. Though don't try and tell our own Desi Doyen that today! [Audio link to show is posted below.]

As the stock market numbers rally on increasingly certain news that Joe Biden will become the next President (despite Trump's lies that the market would crash if the former Veep won), the U.S. coronavirus numbers also continue to skyrocket to all time records (thanks to Trump's disastrous denial and lies there as well.) For today, though, it's the vote count numbers we're again focused on, as Biden will almost certainly be called the unofficial winner in several remaining uncalled states --- including Pennsylvania, Georgia and Nevada --- very soon.

If he takes Pennsylvania alone it's over for Trump. But, as we went to air today, with Biden so far, according to media calls, having won a conservative 253 electoral votes of the 270 he ultimately needs to be declared the President-elect (that 253 total doesn't include Arizona's electors, which both AP and Fox "News" have already called for him), it's now likely that Biden will end up with at least 306 electoral college votes when all is said and done.

At the same time, Trump is filing every unsupported, nonsensical legal lawsuit in every state that his two-bit lawyers can figure out how to spell in hopes that something, anything, will actually help --- or even just turn out to be vaguely true. While the President's supporters in Michigan chant "STOP THE COUNT! STOP THE COUNT!", his equally gullible cult followers in Arizona are busy shouting "COUNT THOSE VOTES! COUNT THOSE VOTES!" That should give you an idea of the ingenously coordinated strategy of Trump and the Republican Party's election law geniuses at this point.

We're joined today by an actual legal professional, University of Kentucky College of Law's election and Constiutional law professor JOSHUA A. DOUGLAS, author of Vote for US: How to Take Back Our Elections and Change the Future of Voting to find out what we must be missing in reviewing Trump's woefully pathetic legal strategy to try and win this election or unring its bell.

"There's not really a coherent legal strategy to speak of. He's throwing as much spaghetti at the wall as he can and seeing what sticks," Douglas confirms. "The real problem I have is we're reporting on these lawsuits as if they have any merit whatsoever. And they don't. I don't think we should even be giving them airtime. Because in my view, the real goal here is to undermine people's faith in the integrity of the election."

"They are making wild allegations of voter fraud, but without having any evidence that it actually occurred. And then they're spreading misinformation on social media about anecdotes that, when you look into them, turn out to be" anything but what they are alleging, he explains.

Nonetheless, we press the good professor for how he would make the case for Trump, were he unfortunate enough to be representing him in this matter, and we discuss the actual looming legal danger awaiting decades of election law precedent at the now packed and stolen U.S. Supreme Court. Will Trump's newest stolen Justice Amy Coney Barrett actually deliver for her President if and when any actionable case on the 2020 election somehow makes its way to SCOTUS? Or will it only be later that she and four other compliant rightwing Justices will decide to undermine the affirmative Right to Vote found in almost every state Constitution?

We discuss all of that and more today, even if none of it seems to help our own Desi Doyen rest any easier about the Presidential election results just yet. (She has very good reason, in the meantime, to be concerned indeed about the results at the Senate and House level.) Nonetheless, we close today with her latest Green News Report with an eye on Hurricane Eta, now aiming for Florida, and what we should expect when it comes to U.S. climate action after the dust settles on the 2020 election...

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Guest: Armstrong County, PA Election Director and longtime Election Integrity advocate Marybeth Kuznik on chaos, segregated ballots and unverifiable touchscreens in the critical battleground state...
By Brad Friedman on 10/30/2020 6:48pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Election 2020 is coming down to the wire, with the deadline for voting just days away and no small amount of chaos unleashed on the entire process by federal courts over the past several days. While the U.S. Supreme Court has invoked their so-called "Purcell Principle" in recent years, to prevent last-minute changes to even bad, suppressive election laws in order to avoid chaos, both SCOTUS and lower federal courts have been busy this week invoking invoking election chaos in several key battleground states. [Audio link to full show posted at bottom of summary.]

On Thursday night, two Republican federal appellate court judges reversed a rule enacted with a Minnesota state court's approval in July, in a radical ruling that follows on the heels of another decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in a Pennsylvania case that has resulted in elections officials in both states now being forced to segregate late arriving mail-in ballots that are postmarked on or before Election Day, but that don't arrive until the days following it. We explain the reason for the extraordinary disruption and the potential invalidation of tens, if not hundreds of thousands of lawfully cast ballots in both states --- and maybe others --- based on a radical interpretation of the U.S. Constitution's Elections Clause that has never been blessed by a majority on the Supreme Court, but which could be very soon, depending on the vote of Donald Trump's newest appointment to the GOP's stolen Court, Amy Coney Barrett.

We try to make sense of the chaos that has now been unleashed by...

  • that late Thursday night ruling by two Republican judges on the U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals --- just five days before Election Day --- finding it unconstitutional for MN to count late arriving ballots lawfully cast and postmarked on time, despite a months-old state court-blessed settlement between MN's Sec. of State, voting advocates and even agreed to by the Trump Campaign;
  • the SCOTUS decision to wait until after Election Day to decide if similar ballots in PA will be discarded as well;
  • and a seemingly counter-intuitive SCOTUS decision to allow late-arriving ballots in North Carolina to be counted following a state court blessed settlement nearly identical to the one just struck down on Thursday night by the appeals court judges for MN.

As noted, chaos now reigns in several of the most important battleground states in the most critical election in U.S. history.

Meanwhile, in the new battleground state of Texas, where early voting numbers have now surpassed the total turnout for all of the 2016 election, officials in Tarrant County (Fort Worth) are dealing with chaos caused by what they describe as a printing error by their absentee ballot contractor. Roughly one-third of mail-in ballots cast in the County are being seen as unreadable by their computer optical-scan tabulation system. Rather than count those hand-marked paper ballots publicly by hand, state law calls for the potentially tens of thousands of unscannable ballots to be "remade" by elections officials by hand onto new, scannable ballot pages.

All of this should serve as a reminder of the necessity of citizen-based public oversight of our elections, which are not owned by unelected judges or elections officials or private vendors or contractors, but by we the people. If you've already voted and are now looking for a way to help between now and Election Day (and, as importantly, beyond), there are many opportunities! Check out some of them at Scrutineers.org, ProtectOurVotes.com, SmartElections.us and ValidateTheVoteUSA.org.

Our guest today is, herself, a longtime champion of public oversight of elections. MARYBETH KUZNIK is the founder of the election integrity group, VotePA.us and, as of September, also the Election Director in Armstrong County, PA, a somewhat rural, Republican-leaning county just north of Pittsburgh. She is kind enough to offer us some time amid the mayhem of her new job today, where she concedes "it's pretty crazy here."

Among the many topics we discuss...

  • the new order to segregate late-arriving absentee ballots in PA so they can, potentially, be nullified by the U.S. Supreme Court after the election;
  • the fact that the state legislature does not allow pre-processing, much less tabulation, of mail-in ballots until Election Day;
  • How many days it is likely to take her county and the state as a whole to tabulate them ("We are in unchartered water here...But, we're not going to know Election Night, that's for sure." She is still looking for volunteers to help! Though they must be from Armstrong!);
  • the type of voting systems in use in Armstrong (Optically-scanned hand-marked paper ballots. "I wouldn't be working here --- I would not be administering unverifiable touchscreen ballot-marking devices. You know that, Brad!");
  • her concerns about voting in Philadelphia this year amid both civil unrest and the strongly Dem-leaning County's foolish decision to use new, unverifiable, computer touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices which failed spectacularly during their first use last year. ("Philly worries me," she says, adding that she has "zero confidence" in the systems which she describes as "the most expensive and the most wasteful voting system ever developed. Every voter does not need a $9,000 touchscreen to cast a ballot.";
  • and some of the lessons she's learned in her transition from longtime Election Integrity advocate to Election Director...

Don't forget to exhale between now and Tuesday!...

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Guest: Aaron Belkin of Take Back the Court; Also: Barrett sworn onto GOP's Stolen SCOTUS; Supremes order WI to reject mail-in ballots cast by Election Day that arrive afterward...
By Brad Friedman on 10/27/2020 6:43pm PT  

Not long after we got off air from yesterday's BradCast, Senate Republicans kept their promise of breaking their previous promise that they would never ever ever --- because it would just be plain wrong and an insult to the voters! --- seat a new Supreme Court Justice during a Presidential election year. Their original promise held for exactly one Presidential election in a row, when it was Obama's nominee to the high court that they blocked for more than a year in 2016. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

Donald Trump's third appointment to the high court, Amy Coney Barrett, now has the dubious distinction of being the first Justice in U.S. history to have been confirmed without a single vote from the minority party in the U.S. Senate. (Even rightwingers like Antonin Scalia and Anthony Kennedy were both unanimously confirmed.) She will also be notorious for having been seated closer to an Election Day (just one week before it) than any other Justice in history, leading Democrats to correctly describe the entire affair as an "illegitimate" "power grab".

But, even before Barrett was officially sworn in as the newest Justice on the GOP's already-stolen Court on Tuesday morning, the five Republican Justices on Monday night --- (with five of six of them now seated by GOP U.S. Senate majorities elected by a vast minority of American voters) --- had already ordered the state of Wisconsin to reject what is likely to be well over 100,000 timely cast and postmarked mail-in ballots simply because they are delivered by the USPS after polls close on Election Day in the Badger State. The anti-democratic order overturns a lower court judge who allowed the counting of ballots postmarked by Election Day, even if they arrive up to six days afterward --- just as Republicans agreed to during the state's primaries earlier this year. But now that they're competing with Democrats, apparently vote suppression is necessary. More on that particular outrage hopefully tomorrow, because the ruling was even worse than it sounds.

But, for today, the outrageous hypocrisy, perfidy and appalling dishonesty of the Senate Republicans' latest court-packing stunt with the illegitimate now-Justice Barrett --- after well over 60 million American have already voted in an election that may very well cost the Republican Party control of both the Senate and White House --- needs to be highlighted today. For that, we're joined by AARON BELKIN, Director of Take Back the Court, the nation's oldest organization formed specifically to call for expansion and reform of both SCOTUS and lower federal courts following the GOP's original theft of the high court in 2016.

While the need to save democracy itself by unrigging the Republicans' packed federal courts is quite clear, the question remains as to whether Senate Democrats understand that, and whether they will have the courage to do so --- presuming they are able to win back control of the chamber amid years of new voter suppression laws enacted by states and activist GOP jurists.

Belkin details the existential stakes and necessity of doing so, and offers his thoughts on whether Democrats will muster the strength to end the Senate filibuster as required to accomplish it next year.

"It's not just about the theft of the court from Barack Obama, but it's also that we are facing planetary emergencies like climate change, with effectively no time left on the clock," Belkin argues. "And we're also facing what you could call 'democracy emergencies,' where the Court itself has worked hard to keep black and brown voters from the polls. This Court, even the Court as it was configured in 2017, was highly unlikely to allow the next President to deal with those emergencies."

"To have robust judicial reform, you need to expand lower federal courts commensurate with the number of seats that Mitch McConnell prevented President Obama from filling during the last two years of his presidency," he tells me. "Then you need to expand the Supreme Court just by enough Justices to get the job done, to deliver a Court that will allow the next administration to address the emergencies we face." His group also calls for term limits "to try to minimize some of these problems moving forward" and "a code of ethical conduct" for Justices who, unlike lower federal court judges, have no such requirements for recusing from cases in which they have conflicts of interest, or even "situations where, for example, Justice Thomas' wife is lobbying President Trump and the White House the same week that President Trump is a party to a lawsuit in front of Justice Thomas."

Belkin also offers his reaction to Joe Biden's recent vow to create a bi-partisan panel of legal scholars to make recommendations for such reforms after six months of study, and what Americans must do to help make sure any of this happens, in the event that Democrats win both the Senate and White House. He also responds with a very compelling argument to those who charge that these reforms would simply be escalated the next time Republicans take control of both houses of Congress and the White House.

Finally, speaking of just some of the stakes, we're joined by Desi Doyen with our latest Green News Report on yet another record hurricane now barreling toward the Gulf Coast, yet more hurricane-winds and record wildfires in Colorado and California, and then Trump's lies and Biden's truth about action on our climate crisis at last week's final Presidential Debate of 2020...

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Guest: 28-year former Leon County, FL Supervisor of Elections, Ion Sancho; Also: Coronavirus begins third U.S. peak; Ransomware attack hits GA county's election infrastructure...
By Brad Friedman on 10/26/2020 6:54pm PT  

On today's BradCast: We're now just one week from Election Day. But as today's guest underscores, we may be much farther away from knowing who actually won it, given disturbing vulnerabilities that remain in our nation's voting system, beginning --- if not ending --- in the battleground state of Florida. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

But first, the Trump Administration announced over the weekend, via White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, that it is no longer even trying to prevent the spread of COVID-19, with Meadows telling CNN that "we aren't going to control the pandemic." Rather, he said, they'll work on mitigating its effects, eventually, through the development of therapies and vaccines.

That, as the U.S. hit its third peak of infections over the weekend, with new daily records that outpaced those from the June-July peak, which previously outpaced those from the original March-April peak. The pandemic is getting far worse, not better, and it's now being super-spread by the President of the United States himself at maskless rallies around the country. The virus which has now killed almost a quarter of a million Americans in the past six months is also being similarly spread by Vice President Mike Pence at rallies, even after five of his top staffers and advisers, including his Chief of Staff Marc Short, were revealed over the weekend to have tested positive.

On Monday morning, Trump actually tweeted that reporting on COVID numbers should now be outlawed. At the same time, talks on a new emergency relief package for the American people, between the White House and Democrats in the U.S. House, collapsed yet again. And, in response to all of the above, the Dow plummeted 650 points on Monday.

Things are not going well, just one week out from Election Day, even after some 60 million Americans have already cast their vote this year, outpacing all early voting from 2016.

But, if you think Election Day will be the answer to all of our woes --- while I pray you are right --- you may want to hedge that bet. One of my greatest fears about the election, a ransomware attack, appears to already be playing out in one county in the battleground state of Georgia. In Hall County, a ransomware attack has hit the county's elections infrastructure by taking out its voter signature database and a precinct map hosted on its website. If a similar attack were to occur on or before Election Day, in any one of the thousands of counties which now rely on the Internet or networked computers to allow voters to cast a vote at all, we could see absolute chaos. This President, of course, is all to ready to exploit such a case to his advantage with the help of gerrymandered Republican-controlled state legislatures around the country and a compliant (and stolen) U.S. Supreme Court (made even more stolen today by the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett in the U.S. Senate.)

Down in the critical battleground of Florida, as my guest explains today, voters may never even know if the election is stolen from them. That guest today is the legendary, former 28-year Supervisor of Elections in Leon County (Tallahassee), Florida, ION SANCHO, who was so well-respected by his peers on both the right and left he was appointed to oversee the eventually-aborted year 2000 recount between Al Gore and George W. Bush in the Sunshine State.

On Friday, Sancho sent an urgent letter [PDF] to the Supervisors of Elections in 47 of Florida's 67 counties which use wireless cellular modems to transmit precinct election results to county headquarters after the close of polls on Election Night. The letter warns that those modems --- and the Internet connections to them at the counties' central tabulators --- can be easily hacked "from anywhere in the world." If they are, he explains on today's program, it's very likely that such a hack, changing election results, would never be noticed by election officials.

"The issue is that we’re using equipment that is not secure," Sancho tells me. "To quote Sen. Marco Rubio, 'Many Florida election officials are arrogant over their belief that they can’t be touched, that they are secure.' And this is a state that does not compare the numbers that we generate on those electrical optical scanners to the actual, physical votes on the piece of paper. We’re completely dependent upon those electronic totals on Election Night."

Manual examination of hand-marked paper ballots in Florida, to make sure the reported computer tabulation was correct, is prohibited by state law. Sancho details his concerns about those modems --- which are not federally certified for use in elections --- and how the state's election officials can avoid the threat posed by this very serious vulnerability to the state's election infrastructure. Making matters worse, he notes, "We do not audit the paper ballots to confirm that the election totals are correct. And that’s a huge, huge problem – not just in Florida, but everywhere in the country."

"Most of the election officials were not even aware that their systems were connected [to the Internet], because the vendor [in this case, ES&S, the nation's largest] never told them. You’re almost 100% dependent upon the vendor for the information about your system. So our most public process – our elections process, which is public – really are controlled by private entities."

"The worst-case scenario," with the modems now used in the systems in Florida, "is that a man-in-the-middle attack could actually intercept the totals that are being electronically-transmitted over the Internet, and manipulate them --- not only to the central tabulator, but re-routing back into the actual digital voting machine and altering the results in that device," he warns. "You could have a complete disaster here."

Sancho may be familiar to some listeners from his landmark appearance in HBO's Emmy-nominated 2006 documentary Hacking Democracy, in which he allows an experiment by "white hat" Finnish hacker Harri Hursti. In the film's climactic scene, we see an actual hack of one of Leon County's optical scan systems, as carried out by Hursti in a mock election. The hack flips the results of the election in a way that would never be noticed by elections officials, save for a manual examination of the hand-marked paper ballots cast.

Sancho also offers his concerns today about whether the 2020 Presidential election could become a redux of what played out in Florida in 2000, when a weeks-long battle to determine who would be President of the United States was kicked off on Election Night, after an optical-scan tabulator --- for reasons still unknown to this day --- recorded negative 16,022 votes for Al Gore in Volusia County. The election was ultimately decided in favor of Bush by an "official" margin of just 527 votes, thanks to a right-wing U.S. Supreme Court which stopped Sancho's statewide hand recount from ever being completed...

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