If you're feeling a bit nauseous of late, hopefully it's not COVID. But it could very well be the effects of trying to keep up with the roller coaster of federal court rulings we've been reporting on The BradCast of late. Or it could be due to trying to keep up with the President of the United States changing moods every few hours these days, as he vacillates between vindictiveness and desperation just over two weeks from Election Day. [Audio link to today's full show follows below summary.]
On Thursday, Donald Trump refused a request from the Governor of California for a Major Disaster Declaration following the spate of record wildfires we've seen in the Golden State over the past month, amid record heat and drought fueled by climate change. Some 8,500 fires this year have resulted in more than 4 million acres burned this year alone --- twice the all-time record for the state --- with nearly 2 million acres scorched in six major wildfires over just the past month. A thousands structures have been leveled and 31 people have died in recent blazes, as five of the six largest fires in California history have taken place this year.
But Trump --- who despises California because we don't vote for him --- has long threatened to cut off FEMA emergency funds to the state, dismissing climate change as a cause, citing leaves and dead trees as the reason for the massive fires and demanding better forest management in the state. That, despite the fact that the vast majority of California's forests are federal lands, which are supposed to be managed by....the Trump Administration.
White House spokespeople spent Friday morning explaining that California's request for federal aid "was not supported by the relevant data that States must provide for approval and the President concurred with the FEMA Administrator's recommendation" against it. That recommendation, however, according to Trump's former DHS Chief of Staff Miles Taylor over the summer, was ordered by a cruel and vindictive Trump himself. But by Friday afternoon, just before air time, someone must have pointed out to Trump that more of his voters live in California than in any other state in the union. Or, they just told him how bad he looked, just over two weeks from Election Day, in refusing federal aid to people who have lost everything due to no fault of their own, especially in a state which had been running a $5.6 billion budget surplus until Trump's disastrously bungled response to the coronavirus resulted in a $54 billion deficit here instead.
It's clear that Donald Trump doesn't even care about his own voters, if they live in a state that won't help him win a second term. He cares about only himself. Period. But, whatever it takes. We're happy for the late breaking news that he finally reversed his cruel idiocy moments before airtime today.
Keeping up with the roller coaster of Trump's mood swings, however, is only marginally less nauseating than keeping up with the roller coaster of recent federal court rulings on voting rights this year! As we've been reporting over the past several weeks, in state after state after state, lower courts have general found in favor of efforts by Democrats and voting rights advocates to make voting easier and safer during the pandemic, as the Trump Campaign and Republican Party have sued virtually everywhere to prevent that from happening. But time and again, well-reasoned, Constitutionally sound rulings by U.S. District Court judges have been overturned at the appellate and Supreme Court levels, often in deference to state legislatures, or simply because SCOTUS has decided its too late to change an election rule or law, even not doing so might disenfranchise tens of thousands of voters in violation of federal law and the Constitution itself.
As University of Kentucky election law professor JOSHUA A. DOUGLAS, author of Vote for US: How to Take Back Our Elections and Change the Future of Voting, asks this week in a CNN editorial, if the courts are supposed to protect the right to vote, why aren't they doing so?
Good question, which Douglas joins us to discuss on today's program. He also has some good, if troubling answersto that question, which Amy Coney Barrett will not be making any less troubling when her SCOTUS confirmation is rammed through the U.S. Senate to seat her on the High Court before Election Day.
"It is frustrating," he tells me, "because the Constitutional right to vote is supposed to be one of our most foundational precious rights, and the courts are supposed to be a check on legislative majorities that try to rig the system, rig the rule of the game to keep themselves in power. That's the whole point of judicial review in these Constitutional cases involving voting rights, and the courts are refusing to do that right now."
But Douglas has good suggestions as well, for how we can begin to correct this sickening course that has resulted, in no small part, from the packed rightwing courts which have been stripping more and more rights from voters over the past decade or so.
"Congress does have the Constitutional authority to regulate elections in a lot of ways under Article 1, Section 4 of the US Constitution, referred to as the Elections Clause," he argues, "which gives states the first right in regulating elections, but says Congress may also alter or amend those regulations." Moreover, he continues, "we have to think on a long term strategy on enshrining the Right to Vote as a textual matter in the US Constitution. Because if these judges are 'textualists', then having explicit language conferring the right to vote, which the Constitution does not currently have, is a much stronger legal argument."
Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, which --- speaking of Barrett --- examines the apparent climate science denialism of the Justice-in-Waiting, as revealed during her Senate confirmation hearings this week. And, just before we finish up today, the breaking news that the U.S. Supreme Court will be deciding whether Trump may violate the Constitution by excluding undocumented immigrants from Congressional apportionment following this year's decennial U.S. Census...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)