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Latest Featured Reports | Friday, October 7, 2022
Will FL Voters Finally Hold Its GOP Leaders Accountable for Misleading on Climate?: 'BradCast' 10/6/22
(If they can vote at all this year?) Also: Women voter reg spikes in IDAHO; Biden goes to pot...
'Green News Report' 10/6/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
OPEC and Russia raising oil prices again; Planet holds breath over Brazil's presidential runoff election; PLUS: Biden pledges America will help rebuild Florida after Hurricane Ian...
Recent GNRs: 10/4/22 - 9/29/22 - Archives...
KBJ Defends VRA on 'Originalist' Terms at SCOTUS: 'BradCast' 10/5/22
Guest: Dan Vicuña of Common Cause; Also: Walker revelations prove GOP doesn't care about abortion or think it's 'murder'...
'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)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Poll workers needed!; Ian threatens FL; Scofflaw TX A.G. flees process server; Congress nears Electoral Count Act update; Listener mail...
By Brad Friedman on 9/27/2022 5:48pm PT  

We've got a grab bag of items on today's BradCast, as the critical midterm elections loom and a potentially catastrophic storm threatens the Sunshine State. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Among the potpourri of news on today's program...

  • Some listener mail in response to yesterday's lively call-in show focused on expansion of the Supreme Court and the necessity of electing Democrats this November in hopes of saving American democracy.
  • NASA scientists successfully fired a vending machine sized projectile last November toward a 560-foot wide moonlet orbiting around an asteroid traveling at thousands of miles per hour nearly 7 million miles away. They hit it on their first try. But, other than that, when it comes to things like our climate crisis and fighting infectious diseases here on Earth, scientists don't anything about anything and should be completely ignored, right?
  • Texas' top law enforcement official, Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton, was indicted for securities fraud felonies seven years ago. He has been dodging a trial for those crimes ever since. In the meantime, he's facing a whistleblower lawsuit from former top deputies charging he abused his office and a criminal probe by the FBI regarding similar allegations. On Monday, his state Senator wife Angela (the one he was cheating on with a girlfriend who was given a job by one of his wealthy donors), served as a getaway driver for Paxton after he ran out of the house and fled by to dodge a process server attempting to serve the state's top attorney with two subpoenas. Cause that's what "the rule of law" looks like in the Lone Star State. Paxton will face Democratic A.G. nominee Rochelle Garza during his reelection contest this November.
  • False claims of fraud in the 2020 election and threats against poll workers by Donald Trump and his flying MAGA monkey are resulting in a surprising number of folks signing up to be poll workers on both the Left and the Right. That's actually a very good thing! But many more poll workers are still needed to help protect democracy this year! Please contact your local elections office to consider becoming one!
  • And, speaking of protecting democracy, last week, the House passed a bipartisan bill to update the Electoral Count Act of 1887. That is the arcane and confusingly written law that Trump and the MAGA monkeys tried to exploit in hopes of stealing the 2020 Presidential election on January 6, 2021. A similar bipartisan bill to the one passed by the House with little GOP support is now quickly moving through the U.S. Senate. And today, republican Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell came out in support of it. That means the measure is likely to get the 10 Republican votes needed to overcome a filibuster in the undemocratic upper chamber. This much-needed reform to help prevent just one of the ways that Republicans could steal the 2024 Presidential election may see passage in the full Senate before the end of this year.

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Also: Disinformationists; Fascism rising; Hurricane Ian threatens disaster in FL; Callers ring in to fight about Dems before critical midterms...
By Brad Friedman on 9/26/2022 5:59pm PT  

It was another lively call-in show today on The BradCast, even with one caller accusing me of "professional, managerial class gate-keeping for the Democrats." (Okay. But, if so, where do I pick up my managerial class paycheck?!) [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Before we get to the listener calls, however, some important news items today...

  • Good news: Italy has just elected its first female Prime Minister! Bad news: She represents a far-right authoritarian party with its roots in Italian World War II neo-fascism.
  • Last week began with three enormous climate change-fueled storms simultaneously slamming Puerto Rico (which is still largely without power or clean water), Alaska and Japan. This week begins similarly, with three huge storms. One (the same one that hit Puerto Rico) slamming eastern Canada and another super-typhoon that spun up from tropical storm to Cat 5 in 24 hours before ravaging The Philippines. The third storm, Hurricane Ian, is now building strength as it edges Cuba as a Cat 2. It's expected to make potentially catastrophic landfall somewhere in Florida in the next day or two, potentially as a Cat 4. Exact landfall location is still unknown, but Desi Doyen joins us to explain how insanely dangerous Ian could turn out to be, particularly for the city of Tampa Bay.
  • Then, new polling from the Marquette University Law School, considered the "gold standard" for polling on the U.S. Supreme Court, finds, for the first time, that a majority of Americans are either "strongly" or "somewhat" in favor of expanding the the number of Justices on the Court. As you'll recall, the Republican majority Senate during the Trump Administration, packed and stole the Court majority, first by holding a vacant seat open for a full year (effectively, changing the number of seats from 9 to 8 in 2016); then by a blowing up the Senate filibuster rule requiring 60 votes to seat Justices for lifetime positions on the bench. They did that for three controversial far-right Justices who have since helped the corrupted Republican majority on the Court turn the Constitution and nation upside down by ignoring precedent, making up new "doctrines" from thin air, and overturning critical Constitutional rights established by half-century old SCOTUS opinions like Roe v. Wade.

    For many of the reasons discussed on today's show, expansion of the Court is --- at least in my opinion --- the number one reason for voting for Democrats in this November's critical midterm elections. Everything else --- codifying Roe's protection of reproductive rights into federal law, protecting democracy and the planet itself --- are all ultimately subordinate to the High Court. As corrupted as it currently is, expanding the Court to rebalance it is a must...even if many Democrats in Congress and the White House don't yet seem to understand that. Happily, a majority of Americans, across virtually every demographic sector, now agree.

  • Then, we open up the phones to callers on all of the above and more. With, as usual, a bunch of folks calling in to disagree with me, and at least one who correctly identifies the "Big Lie of the Left," that "both parties" are equally bad. They aren't. Not by a demonstrable long shot, as we discuss. Which, apparently, is proof enough that I'm a "professional, managerial class gate-keep[er] for the Democrats!" Who knew? But check please!)

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!

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GOP election conspiracists have bad lawyers; Also: Garland's moving (and telling) remarks at swearing-in ceremony for new American citizens...
By Brad Friedman on 9/22/2022 7:04pm PT  

If you're dumb enough to fall for the disgraced former President's evidence-free claims that the 2020 election was stolen from him, you probably deserve whatever nightmares are coming for you. We cover at least three of those dumb dupes on today's BradCast. [Audio link to today's full show follows below this summary.]

  • It's been a really really bad week for failed President and 2020 election conspiracist Donald Trump. His hand-picked Special Master in the Mar-a-Lago stolen documents case has been doing him no favors. And, yesterday, Trump and his kids and his company were slammed with a massive $250 million fraud lawsuit by the state of New York which may end his ability to do business in the state ever again. And, just a few hours later, a three-judge panel on the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, including two Trump-appointed judges, unanimously sided with the Dept. of Justice in a no-uncertain-terms rebuke of Trump's claim's that the classified documents he stole from the White House somehow belong to him, and to the dumb and/or corrupt U.S. District Court Judge who facilitated his ridiculous legal challenge. And no, despite what The Former Guy tried to tell Sean Hannity last night, a President can't simply declassify documents with his mind. But, even if he could, as the 11th Circuit Court helpfully pointed out in their scathing ruling [PDF], the classified status of the stolen documents retrieved from Mar-a-Lago is little more than a "red herring".
  • It's also been a really really bad week for pillow salesman and 2020 election conspiracist Mike Lindell. On Monday, a federal court in Minnesota denied Lindell and his company's motions to dismiss the massive defamation suit filed against them by Smartmatic, a voting system vendor. The next day, Lindell tried to get himself a similar deal to the one that Trump got in that destined-to-fail Mar-a-Lago lawsuit by filing a lawsuit against the Dept. of Justice, seeking to get his cell phone back. FBI official seized Lindell's phone last week while he was at a fast-food restaurant drive-thru, based on a probable cause search warrant. Lindell's own destined-to-fail lawsuit filing included a copy of the FBI's search warrant, revealing that the bedding magnate is being investigated for identity theft and intentional damage to a protected computer related to the breach of Dominion voting system software in Mesa County, Colorado by its indicted County Clerk, Tina Peters. Lots to explain here. We give you the full story.
  • As to 2020 election conspiracist and far-right Republican activist Ginni Thomas, wife of far-right Republican activist Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, her bad weeks may just be beginning. Hopefully. Four months ago, it was revealed that that she actively lobbied Trump's then White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, a corrupt Trump lawyer named John Eastman, and several state lawmakers in battleground states to help steal the 2020 election for Trump. On Wednesday, Ginni's attorney announced that she has finally agreed to give testimony to the bipartisan U.S. House Select Committee investigating the January 6 insurrection and Trump's multiple failed attempts to steal the election. It is unclear when Thomas' will be interviewed, though the agreement comes months after she had originally claimed to be eager to "clear up misconceptions" about her role in trying to help steal the 2020 election. In related news, the J6 Committee is currently scheduled to hold what may be their last public hearing next week, before releasing their final report at year's end.
  • In news that is far less stupid, though also related to much of the above, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland offered incredibly moving remarks (video, transcript) at Ellis Island in New York last week at the swearing in ceremony for 200 new American citizens. The A.G. had a difficult time holding himself together as he recounted his family's history of coming to America while attempting to escape the Holocaust. But it was his telling remarks on "the rule of law" and "the promise of equal justice under law" that may offer clues about what is likely to happen in the days ahead, at a moment when he is almost certainly deciding whether or not to indict a former President of the United States for the first time in history.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as Climate Week unfolds in New York during the United Nations General Assembly. She has coverage of the UN Sec. General's call for the fossil fuel industry to pay up for its unspeakable damage across the globe; the continuing toll of Hurricane Fiona in Puerto Rico; and some good news on the first climate change treaty in decades to actually be adopted by the U.S. Senate.

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!

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Guest: Legal analyst, author Dahlia Lithwick; Also: Lincoln Project begs Former Guy to sue them; Judge tosses Trump's ridiculous Clinton, Comey 'conspiracy' lawsuit; DoJ offers corrupt Mar-a-Lago judge an off-ramp...
By Brad Friedman on 9/9/2022 6:33pm PT  

For all of the legal experts on TV and Twitter helping the nation understand a flood of ridiculous rulings by corrupt, rightwing, Federal Society-approved judges and Justices, it might also be helpful if they started pointing out the desperate need for structural change in our federal judiciary. We can't lawyer our way out of this mess, but we can reform it. But we're gonna need their help. One of those legal experts joins us on today's BradCast to help make exactly that case. [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

First up, however, the Republican "Never Trumpers" of the Lincoln Project are back. And their latest ad is another doozie, pointing out how Trump's sleazy Save America PAC is little more than a "sucker's game" meant to scam his own supporters. "Trump told you the election was stolen to rip you off, to sucker you, to take your hard-earned money and shovel it into his pockets ... It was the biggest scam in political history. ... It was a sucker's game all along."

Apparently, Lincoln Project is running the ad on Fox "News" and it appears to be driving The Former Guy crazy. So much so that he's threatened to sue the Lincoln Project. And now the group's co-founder, Rick Wilson, is begging him to. We share the ad, Trump's pathetic (though hilarious) social media tantrum and Wilson's acerbic (though hilarious) response.

While Trump is unlikely to actually sue Lincoln Project --- and open up his corrupt Save America PAC to the discovery process! --- one of his most recent impotent lawsuits, filed against Hillary Clinton, former FBI Director James Comey, and bunch of other folks at the FBI and DoJ claiming a "conspiracy" against him regarding Russia's interference in the 2016 election, spectacularly crashed and burned before a federal judge in South Florida on Thursday. It was a real judge. Not one that Trump appointed.

As to the federal judge in South Florida that Trump did appoint, Judge Aileen Cannon, who issued the absurd, unprecedented and completely unworkable order on Monday in response to the FBI's court-ordered seizure of thousands of government documents stolen by Trump and stored at Mar-a-Lago, the DoJ pushed back on Thursday night. On Monday, Cannon ordered an injunction against the DoJ's use of the stolen documents, many of them highly classified, in their criminal investigation of Trump's theft until a Special Master examined all of the documents for potential attorney-client and executive privilege conflicts. (There can be no executive privilege conflicts since Trump hasn't asserted it and, no longer the Executive, he is not entitled to any such privilege.)

In their filing [PDF] on Thursday night, however, the DoJ offered a compromise and an off-ramp to Cannon, before they otherwise plan to appeal her ruling in full to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals next week. Hopefully, Cannon takes the off-ramp to allow the critical criminal investigation and national security damage assessment to continue. But, otherwise, the DoJ may have a long slog before the appeals court which has now been packed with Trump-appointed judges.

All of this --- not to mention the unprecedented rulings by the packed, stolen and corrupted U.S. Supreme Court majority at the end of their term earlier this summer --- underscores how broken our federal judicial system has become. And while there is no shortage of well-meaning legal experts on TV and social media explaining how best to respond to corrupted rulings by corrupted courts, these are problems that the nation cannot litigate itself out of, as our guest argues today.

We're joined again by the great DAHLIA LITHWICK, longtime legal analyst at Slate, MSNBC contributor, podcast host, and author of the new book, LADY JUSTICE: Women, the Law, and the Battle to Save America.

Writing this week with our other legal reporter friend from Slate, Mark Joseph Stern, in an article headlined "The Solution to the Trump Judge Problem Nobody Wants to Talk About" the pair reference the court battle over the stolen documents retrieved from Mar-a-Lago: "The problem is not just the extreme and heinous flaws in Cannon’s ruling. It’s also the Trump-shaped world in which Cannon operates, with impunity, which we will all have to endure for the foreseeable future. It’s the brutal reality that we may face a steady stream of depraved decisions like Cannon’s for the rest of our lives --- and the pain of hearing from every quarter that nothing can be done to remedy it."

"There are too many things wrong with the Cannon order to litigate," they conclude. "And there are too many things wrong with Trump’s judicial dominion of every part of our lives --- for years to come --- to litigate. So maybe it's time to stop litigating them and start fixing them."

How to start fixing them? Well, that's at the center of my discussion today with Lithwick, beginning with the need for "big-swing structural reform" of our courts and how to start making the noise needed to help make it happen.

Also, we discuss LADY JUSTICE, Lithwick's brand-new book --- hitting "shelves" in just a few days --- which "knits together these stories of extraordinary women lawyers" who "faced unbelievable odds" and "changed the world in the Trump era". Now, she argues, "they could do it again."

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!

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Guest: Rep. Hank Johnson (GA-4), on his bills to expand the Court, impose term limits and ethics rules for 'unaccountable', 'corrupt' Justices; Also: TN's Thursday primaries and unverifiable voting systems...
By Brad Friedman on 8/4/2022 6:49pm PT  

I suspect you'll get much more out of listening to today's BradCast than I can possibly share in this summary. Hearing my conversation with the Congressman --- who has a very dry wit --- is also much, much funnier than reading about it. [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

But, before we get there today, voters in Tennessee were voting in their midterm primaries on Thursday. Yes, on a Thursday! In a state where the right-wingers who run it aren't all that interested in democracy, apparently. Otherwise, they would hold primaries on a normal Tuesday, and they wouldn't have upended a state law passed years ago --- when Democrats held the legislative majority there --- to move from unverifiable touchscreen voting systems to hand-marked paper ballots. A story today out of one of their counties where a touchscreen system appears to have failed for one of their voters (described misleadingly in the report as "a rare glitch") underscores this point and my continuing, expanding, years-long nightmare.

Then, we're joined by REP. HANK JOHNSON, Democrat from Georgia's 4th Congressional District and Chair of the House Judiciary's Subcommittee on the Courts, for a detailed and lively discussion about his ongoing attempts to bring accountability to what he describes as the "corrupt system" embodied by today's U.S. Supreme Court.

In April of last year, Johnson introduced the Judiciary Act of 2021, a simple, single paragraph bill [PDF], co-sponsored by a number of House colleagues and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) who declared, at the time, that when "Republicans stole the Court’s majority" they "undermined its legitimacy, and threatened the rights of millions of Americans". Over a year later, with little progress for the measure, after a full term with the Republicans' packed majority now having run roughshod over longstanding Constitutional rights and Court precedents --- on everything from the rights of voters to those of detainees, to gun safety and the environment and, of course, privacy rights and reproductive freedoms --- the bill's sponsors held another press event last month in front of the Capitol to try and bring focus to the need to, as Johnson describes it today, "re-balance the Court away from this current 6-3 rightwing extremist majority that was packed by Mitch McConnell, Donald Trump, and the Federalist Society."

This week Johnson also introduced another measure --- this one, just three pages [PDF] long --- called the Supreme Court Tenure Establishment and Retirement Modernization (TERM) Act of 2022, to introduce term limits for Justices and mandating that new appointees shall be appointed solely by each President in the first and third years of their terms.

"It would establish an 18-year term limit for Supreme Court Justices, if that legislation passes --- and it needs to pass along with the Judiciary Act to expand the Court. We don't really need Justices letting the grass grow under their feet, becoming insulated and removed from accountability from the public", Johnson charges. "You can appoint a conservative judge, but that judge's views would have to end up being subject to being replaced by another judge at the end of that judge's tenure. So, in this way, we give every President the opportunity to appoint new blood into the Supreme Court. Keep the Supreme Court from getting old, stale, and rotten, as it is now...starting with the Honorable Clarence Thomas. "

The Georgia Congressman has also introduced the Supreme Court Ethics, Recusal, and Transparency (SCERT) Act of 2022 [PDF], recently marked-up in the Judiciary Committee to bring ethics reform to the High Court, where Justices currently are allowed to police themselves and are exempt from the judicial ethics rules and requirements which govern the rest of the federal judiciary. That, he asserts, has brought us to the "corrupt system" we have to today.

"The Supreme Court can simply decide to ignore all of the cases it chooses to ignore, and cherry-pick cases that have been inserted into the legal pipeline by activists who are intent on getting their way in the United States Supreme Court," says Johnson. "These are the same activists that have these same Supreme Court Justices traveling to exotic locations to be wined and dined, to deliver a speech to the assembled audience, who happen to be stakeholders in one position or another, that they want to insert into the Court and have the Court decide it their way."

"This is the system that we have now, with the Court being able to select a few cases in the pipeline, for that pipeline to be packed with issues that are ripe for these rightwing Justices carefully indoctrinated through their law school years with Federalist Society 'free market' thinking," the Congressman continues. "They have gotten the jobs with the law firms and with the prosecutors' offices that put them on a track to be nominated by a Republican to a judgeship. And they preside over the judgeship and then they get elevated to the United States Supreme Court, after being recommended by the same Federalist Society that indoctrinated them from law school and secured the job for them. These Justices are primed to rule in favor of the rightwing, 'free-market' capitalist interests that put them in the pipeline. It's a corrupt system that we have at this point, and Congress definitely is in position to do something about it."

Johnson has created a website called CourtReformNow.com to detail these measure and many others in order "to do something about it."

That said, many of these long-overdue reforms have had trouble gaining traction in Congress. I ask the Congressman if there is any reason, for example, that his Subcommittee couldn't call in Justice Thomas (who he describes as "ethically bankrupt") to discuss years of impropriety, not to mention the hundreds of thousands of dollars those same activist groups have given his wife Ginni. (She was also recently revealed to have been a key player in helping Donald Trump to try and steal the 2020 Presidential election.) In response, Johnson offers a fascinating --- and amusing --- insight into how the House and its leadership work. That alone is worth tuning in for. But, the central point is that Committee and Subcommittee Chairs don't necessarily have the final say on what those committees may do and who they may call in for testimony. Moreover, as Johnson collegially chafes against some of those restrictions, he also underscores the need to "educate my colleagues about the power that we have and the need for us to use the power."

At "a political moment when the future of our democracy, our freedoms, are at risk," he notes, pressure from the public "has a lot of bearing" on what Committees and the Party itself in Congress are able and allowed to do.

As mentioned, tune in for this one for a much more expansive and colorful explanation on all of this.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report with a very "sexy" close to today's show...

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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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Also: 'A lot of people are about to get sick' due to 'explosive' Omicron...
By Brad Friedman on 12/16/2021 6:30pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we cover both COVID and SCOTUS and how to try and stay safe from and/or fight back against the very serious threats now posed by both of these hideous, rogue, all-caps acronyms. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

First up, it's COVID. Specifically, the Omicron variant, as the CDC finds that, according to their latest data, unvaccinated people are 14 times more likely to die and 11 times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 than those who are vaccinated. Those numbers seem to refer to those vaccinated by two mRNA shots without a booster shot, which is now key to fighting the quickly rising threat of Omicron.

As Josh Marshall bluntly warns in one of his chilling recent updates on newly emerging data on the new, highly transmissible variant --- which still include a number of unknowns --- "A lot of people are about to get sick."

New studies just coming in from around the world suggest that Omicron is incredibly aggressive, even for those with some immunity from two vaccine shots or previous infection. A booster shot, the studies are finding, help tremendously to ward off both the likelihood of infection, as well as the worst symptoms. Two doses and a booster will roughly offer the same protection against Omicron as two shots alone did against Delta. Marshall reports the data show "late December through January will be explosive in terms of numbers of infections" in the U.S. He repeated a similar warning based on newer incoming data on Omicron last night: "The rate of growth is simply explosive. There’s no other way to put it...we should expect a very, very large wave of infections in the coming weeks...The pace and scope of the surge looks likely to be something like the original one in the Spring of 2020."

Too many people, I believe, have been placating themselves on the somewhat misleading data point suggesting Omicron infection appears to be less severe than previous variants. There are a number of reasons that it could be (including the fact that many now have at least some immunity due to vaccination or antibodies from a previous infection), but the severity level misses the point of the somewhat terrifying transmissibility numbers emerging right now and how that is likely to overwhelm health systems in this country and result in a lot of people dying. A more mild disease that infects 5 times more people is equally or potentially even more deadly.

The current surge under way in the U.S. is still almost entirely comprised of Delta cases. Once Omicron --- which is really good at breaking through immunity created by both infection antibodies and vaccines --- begins to rise over the next 2 to 4 weeks, things could get really bad on several levels. We are already seeing deaths spike again to more than 1,700 a day in the U.S., and that's almost entirely from Delta.

Bottom line: Get boosted. "It's not a marginal difference" from two shots, Marshall advises, based on a very close reading of emerging data and discussion with experts, "It's a big one." He goes on to write: "I would also seriously consider limiting obvious vectors of exposure: indoor activities in large groups, eating indoors, large crowds indoors or out. We all have our own levels of risk aversion and we can’t hide forever. But you should assume that your risk of being exposed to COVID is about to go up a lot. So plan accordingly.

Of course, he's hardly the only one sending this similar message. "All the models right now are flashing bright red," warns New York "Intelligencer" science writer David Wallace-Wells in one of his latest pieces headlined "Omicron is About to Overwhelm Us: The new COVID variant has all the makings of a mass wave." Pay attention please. Get boosted.

Next up, it's SCOTUS. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) penned a blistering --- if absolutely correct on every key point --- op-ed at Boston Globe yesterday, calling for the expansion of the Republicans "packed" and "stolen" and "corrupt" Supreme Court. The call comes not a moment too soon (and, perhaps a year or so too late). Still, it's good to hear elected officials speak as directly about the threat now posed by this corrupted, partisan Court to "basis principles of law" which now "threaten the democratic foundations of our nation."

We share most of her piece on air today. But if you don't listen to the show, read her must-read piece. She breaks down precisely how Mitch McConnell's hypocritical "Republican court-packing has undermined the legitimacy of every action the current court takes" as its illegitimate 6 to 3 rightwing "supermajority will continue to threaten basic liberties for decades to come." Democrats, she advises, must exercise their Constitutional Article III, Section 1 authority to change the size of the Court, as Congress has done at least seven times before. That number doesn't even include what happened after McConnell, corruptly "reduced the size of the court for over a year solely for ... partisan gain and then turned around and jammed through another nominee days before losing the presidency."

But, as welcome as op-eds are, action is better. So we were delighted when, immediately after the Supremes last week once again allowed Texas' clearly unconstitutional six-week abortion ban law to stay in place, the Governor of California announced plans for actual action to push back. If its now judicially acceptable to write laws that both undermine Constitutional rights and evade judicial review by allowing private citizens to enforce it, as the Texas law does, the same can be done with other rights.

On Saturday, Gov. Gavin Newsom declared his intention to "work with the Legislature and the Attorney General on a bill that would create a right of action allowing private citizens to seek injunctive relief, and statutory damages of at least $10,000 per violation plus costs and attorney’s fees, against anyone who manufactures, distributes, or sells an assault weapon or ghost gun kit or parts in the State of California."

"If states can now shield their laws from review by the federal courts that compare assault weapons to Swiss Army knives, then California will use that authority to protect people’s lives, where Texas used it to put women in harm’s way," the Governor noted in his brief statement. "If the most efficient way to keep these devastating weapons off our streets is to add the threat of private lawsuits, we should do just that."

He seems quite serious. And so does New York Attorney General Leticia James who, when asked about whether her state might take similar actions to Newsom's this week on ABC's The View, cited the outrageous immunity against prosecution that gun manufacturer's have been afforded by federal statute to say: "Yes! When I heard about that, I said to my team, we need to follow his lead."

Good. It's remarkable that the extremist radical rightwingers on the High Court either didn't see this coming, or didn't care. Of course, if the Supremes are cool with the Texas law as written, what is to stop any state from allowing "lawful" private, vigilante law suits against people who are simply exercising their First Amendment rights by, say, wearing a MAGA hat or being members of the Republican Party? In truth, nothing stops that at all, which is why Sen. Warren's op-ed is so on point.

Finally, as if those threats are aren't enough, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with more threats to our climate than the Supreme Court should allow us to fit into six minutes...

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Guest: Legal journalist Mark Joseph Stern; Also: 'Contempt' for Bannon; Manchin, Sanders in talks; GOP Senate blocks voting rights again...
By Brad Friedman on 10/20/2021 6:51pm PT  

On today's BradCast: President Biden has, thankfully, edged toward the left on a number of things during his candidacy and Presidency to date. Reforming the GOP's stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court, however, at least for now, does not appear to be one of those things. At least if the findings of his blue ribbon Commission of academics studying potential reforms is any indication.

But first up today, several quick updates on a number of stories we've been covering of late...

  • On Tuesday night, shortly after we got off air, the U.S. House Select Committee investigating the Trump-incited January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol voted unanimously to hold Steve Bannon in criminal contempt of Congress for refusing to answer their subpoena for documents and testimony. A vote on the resolution by the full House is scheduled for Thursday and, if adopted (as expected), a referral for criminal prosecution will be sent to the DoJ. Bannon could face as much as a year in prison. But it was remarks by Committee member Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) before Tuesday's vote that jumped out: "Mr. Bannon's and Mr. Trump's privilege arguments do appear to reveal one thing. They suggest that President Trump was personally involved in the planning and execution of January 6, and this Committee will get to the bottom of that." If I was Trump, I'd take Cheney at her word. Bannon's future could also be Trump's.
  • There was additional encouraging news from Congress on Tuesday night, as outlets are reporting that obstructionist Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and progressive Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) are now in direct talks on Biden's Build Back Better Act and that they hope to reach a deal on a path forward for the once-and-hopefully-still transformative social safety net and climate change bill by week's end. Manchin, as we discussed on yesterday's show, has apparently already gutted the legislation's central climate change provision, and is sure to force the removal of many other wildly popular provisions before all is said and done. But negotiation, in theory, means progress. And progress moving toward passage of the Biden agenda is better than the stalemate of recent weeks. One Senator quoted by The Hill describes the news as a "breakthrough". We'll see.
  • And, in one other Congressional story today with the tiniest ray of sunshine attached to it, Republican Senators on Wednesday once again filibustered to prevent passage of the Manchin-approved Freedom to Vote Act, a transformative elections and voting rights bill that is desperately needed to counteract the anti-democracy and voter suppression laws being adopted by state Republicans around the nation in advance of 2022 and 2024. It's the third time Republicans have blocked Democrats' attempt to move to debate on their voting rights bill. The ray of sunshine here is that Sen. Angus King (I-ME), one of the other holdouts against the filibuster reform that is needed to pass the Act with a simple majority, now says he has "concluded that democracy itself is more important than any Senate rule." Let's see if Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) get the message any time soon enough to reform the filibuster to pass legislation in hopes of actually saving democracy from the rising Authoritarian Front (GOP).

Then, we're joined by the great MARK JOSEPH STERN, Slate's ace legal reporter and U.S. Supreme Court expert, to discuss the draft report issued late last week by President Biden's blue ribbon panel of academics --- with remarkably little coverage by the corporate media --- on potential reforms for SCOTUS following its years-long bastardization and theft by the Republican Party.

The bipartisan Commission, created by the President in April with a mandate to study potential reforms for six months before issuing a report but not to offer formal recommendations, for some reason). They were tasked with studying the pros and cons of possible changes such as expanding the number of seats on the high court and/or the creation of term limits for Justices. The panel was comprised of 36 academics and Courts experts who, according to Stern, included "a lot of conservatives" with a number of "so-called liberals" who were "mostly moderates and institutional liberals who have a vested interest in a Supreme Court that looks favorably upon them. If you survey it all together, you see what is basically a faculty meeting of moderates and conservatives, with a few token liberals, none of whom were happy with this draft report. None of which is a recipe for any kind of real, meaningful reform."

"Notably," Stern observes, "not a single person added to the Commission had ever endorsed serious Court reform in the past, [while] there were many people who had said that they opposed Court expansion. So in some ways, this Commission was maybe rigged from the start."

While the deck was stacked against Court expansion, the idea of term limits didn't fair all that much better, according to Stern, who cites an obsession by the panel's members with what other nations might learn from a partisan restructuring of the U.S. Supreme Court. That said, as Stern notes, "we are the only country in the world that gives lifetime tenure to our judges and justices. It is obviously a huge mistake. But the committee comes from the perspective that it is basically a great idea and anyone who criticizes it bears a heavy, heavy burden of proving that it would make things better."

He charges that the panel appeared to be essentially "governing out of fear" and that its draft report "projects the worst possible outcome and says, 'We think this is what's going to happen so we shouldn't even risk it.'"

While the Commission's draft argues that America must be mindful that we are "a leader to the rest of the world," Stern notes, "this report does not even begin to grapple with the fact that no other country, except arguably India, gives its high court nearly as much power as we do. No European nation gives its high court the unfettered ability to veto all legislation. No other nation - not Israel, not Chile or Argentina, not Mexico, not Canada --- none of them allow the court to simply smack down any kind of legislative action that it deems to be violative of the Constitution. That's not how judicial review works anywhere else."

"If these scholars took a look around," he argues, "they would realize that other countries have decided our system doesn't work too well, that they want to do something different. I think there's a lot of merit to that, and I find it very disappointing that they don't even grapple with that."

Of course, he has many more observations, including on what appears to be a "one-way ratchet" where the panel cites public opinion polls as a reason to oppose Court expansion, while ignoring the "overwhelming" public polling from across the entire political spectrum favoring term limits and opposing lifetime appointments for U.S. judges and justices. "Giving anyone that much power for so long is just objectively crazy." The draft report also includes a number of flat-out lies and tries to "lay equal blame at the feet of both parties" for the crisis of public confidence, unprecedented in modern times, now befalling SCOTUS. Stern hopes that some of the Commission's liberals, such as the NAACP's Sherilyn Ifill, may correct the record before their final report is issued and used by Republicans for eternity to claim that "Even Joe Biden's court commission opposes term limits!"

Finally, in our closing few minutes, Stern explains the pathetic roller coaster legal rulings that have allowed Texas' new anti-abortion law, S.B.8, to stay in place for now, despite its clear violation of decades of 'Roe v. Wade's legal precedent, and the terrifying ease with which the GOP's stolen and packed Supreme Court is preparing to overturn that and other long-settled precedents.

"You should be terrified," he warns. "We should all be terrified. And we should all be aware that if we choose not to expand the Court, that we are going to have to live with this current conservative super-majority for years, if not decades."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Harvard Law's Michael Klarman; Also: Trump praises GOP Rep's violence against journalist at MT rally, as Khashoggi assassination roils...
By Brad Friedman on 10/19/2018 6:46pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It's no longer only political pundits and activists calling for Democrats to pack the U.S. Supreme Court by adding several seats as soon as possible, in the wake of the Republican Party's blatant theft of the high court majority. Esteemed law professors are now joining that call. [Audio link to show follows below.]

But, first up today, a word or two on the President of the United States' appalling celebration of violence against journalists at a political rally in Montana on Thursday night. To the cheers of his supporters, Donald Trump praised the criminal assault on Guardian journalist Ben Jacobs by Republican U.S. House member Greg Gianforte. The attack last year was carried out by Gianforte, and caught on tape, on the eve of his special election to the state's only U.S. House seat.

"Any guy that can do a body slam --- he's my kind of guy," Trump declared to laughter and wild applause from supporters at the campaign rally for Gianforte in Missoula on Thursday, lauding him as "one tough cookie." The Congressman initially lied to police after the assault, claiming that he was attacked by Jacobs. Later, after he won the election, and after a Fox News crew who witnessed the attack detailed what actually happened, Gianforte pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault, apologized to Jacobs and paid a small fine in addition to performing 40 hours of community service and receiving 20 hours of anger management counseling.

Trump's disgusting --- and chilling --- praise for the violent attack against a reporter doing his job, comes amidst Trump's seeming support for Saudi Arabia following their reported assassination and dismemberment of Washington Post columnist and Virginia resident Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul two weeks ago. Journalists today --- including the Guardian's Editor and the head of the White House Correspondents Association --- are decrying Trump's support for violence against reporters, despite his sworn oath to protect and defend the Constitution's First Amendment. We decry it --- and the dark path where it's leading --- on today's show as well.

Next, we're joined by MICHAEL KLARMAN, the Kirkland & Ellis Professor at Harvard Law School to discuss his recent essay at the Take Care Blog, detailing "Why Democrats Should Pack the Supreme Court" if they are ever able to regain control of the White House and both chambers of Congress. The public conversation in support of expanding the number of seats on the high court --- which can be done statutorily, without a Constitutional Amendment --- has been intensifying in recent weeks. What had begun as a call from activists to restore a Democratic majority, stolen from them by Republicans in 2016, has quickly spread to academic and legal circles.

Klarman, the author of many books on American law and history and a former clerk to Ruth Bader Ginsberg, argues that, in addition to the GOP's historically unprecedented theft of the high court and his belief that Trump was likely elected only due to unlawful foreign interference, a host of radical actions by Republicans in recent years at both the state and federal level, leaves Democrats with only the choice to respond in kind. If not, he argues, it will be nothing less than "unilateral disarmament" and an act of "political suicide" for the party.

"It's not radical. It's responding to an extraordinary rightward shift in the Republican Party that is tearing apart the rules of democracy," he argues. "The Republicans have already packed the Court," so "unpacking" it, he says, would be warranted.

"There's a kind of sickness that's been spreading in the Republican Party for the last decade or two. It's certainly not true of all Republican voters, many of whom I think would be unaware of these things, and would have a problem with them if they knew about it," he tells me. "But the Democratic Party can't go on playing by the established norms and traditions of democracy when the Republican Party is willing to do anything to win. That's unilateral disarmament. It usually doesn't work out well for the party that disarms. So this is a fairly mild way to fight back."

"My argument is not that Democrats should control the Supreme Court at any cost --- I think that's the Republicans' position, [that] 'we get to control the Supreme Court even if it means stealing an appointment.' My position is their theft has to be offset, and put us back in the position that we ought to have been at if the seat hadn't been stolen."

He leaves the case of whether Dems should run on a promise to expand the Court, or wait until they gain back control before announcing such a plan, to political scientists, but he notes: "We're going to have to think creatively in order to rescue democracy. And that may mean occasionally fighting back in ways that Democrats don't gravitate toward naturally, and that they would prefer not to have to use at all in a normal political environment. But you can't just respond by disarming in the face of this incredible threat that the Republican Party is posing to the basic norms and institutions of democracy."

Finally today, more news on the ongoing allegations of attempted voter suppression, particularly in southern states once covered by the Voting Rights Act until the central part of the Act was gutted by SCOTUS Republicans in 2013. That, on the same day that Trump's former longtime lawyer and business partner Michael Cohen broke his media silence to plead with the American public to vote this November or face "another two or another six years of this craziness." And then we enjoy another musical close to today's show, this time from actress Jenifer Lewis, of ABC's Blackish, who explains, in song, why it's time to "Get your ass out and vote!"...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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