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Latest Featured Reports | Monday, February 26, 2024
Sunday 'Useful Idiot' Toons
Comrades! Please enjoy our latest weekly toon collection! Courtesy of highly trusted whistleblowers and military-grade informants!...
Our Russian Nesting Doll: 'BradCast' 2/22/2024
How the U.S. has fallen prey to a decade-long Russian intel op; Also: Lindell owes $5M for lost 2020 contest; Media ignore good Biden polling amid ill-considered bids to replace him...
'Green News Report' 2/22/24
  w/ Brad & Desi
EPA's 'Good Neighbor' pollution rule at SCOTUS; Bizarre heat in Japan; Near-universal global public support for climate action; PLUS: Biden Admin cleans up nation's drinking water...
Previous GNRs: 2/20/24 - 2/15/24 - Archives...
DeSantis' Anti-Labor Law Now Nixing Unions for 1000s of FL Workers: 'BradCast' 2/21
Guest: Rich Templin of FL's AFL-CIO; Also: NY A.G. may seize Trump building to cover fines; Biden forgives another $1.2B in student loans...
Wisconsin's Decade-Long Un-Democracy Finally Undone. (Almost.): 'BradCast' 2/20
Guest: WI's John Nichols; Also: 2020 Team Trump attorneys lose again at SCOTUS; And a word on the 'victims' of Trump's decades-long NY real estate fraud...
'Green News Report' 2/20/24
Record ocean heat decimating FL's coral reefs; Plastics industry's 50-year recycling scam; PLUS: Nearly half of world's migratory species in decline, U.N. study finds...
After Navalny: 'BradCast' 2/19/24
Also: Massive election fraud alleged in Pakistan; Final death blow for GOP fraudsters' phony election fraud film, '2000 Mules'...
Sunday 'Partying With Putin' Toons
Can someone let Tucker know that Vlad got another one? It's our latest collection of the week's best toons...
In Memoriam: Alexei Navalny (1976-2024)
So, remind me again how wonderful Vladimir Putin is...
Guns Again, Trump as Ever, Media Failure and the Way Forward: 'BradCast' 2/15/24
Also: Special Counsel probing Hunter Biden indicts informant who lied about 'bribes' to the Bidens from a Ukrainian energy company...
'Green News Report' 2/15/24
Oil spill in Trinidad and Tobago; Greenland getting greener; Wildfires reversing hard-won gains against air pollution; PLUS: Climate change comes for chocolate...
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...


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...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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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."

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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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...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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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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