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On today's BradCast: much more on the 2016 GOP candidates still --- incredibly --- tripping up over Iraq. Over the weekend, once again, it was Marco Rubio's turn after a disastrous appearance on Fox "News" Sunday with Chris Wallace. And no, once again, the Iraq War wasn't "a mistake", it was a crime and should be treated as such.
Then, I was joined for a fascinating conversation with Seattle City Councilmember Mike O'Brien as Shell Oil's 400-foot Polar Pioneer offshore oil rig is now docked in the Port of Seattle's Elliot Bay and facing ShellNo.org protesters on both land and sea. They hope to keep the rig from heading into the pristine Arctic waters to drill for oil this summer, after the Obama Administration has granted "conditional approval".
O'Brien says the City Council has determined that Shell is there "in violation of the existing permits," and tells us they are now "working on enforcement actions to get them back into compliance." Unfortunately, he concedes, that may mean, for now, little more than a $500/fine fine. But he also says the city is working hard to see what else they might be able to do to block the rig from moving north this season and, as importantly, keep any more oil rigs from using the port at all in the future.
On why O'Brien, who also took to a kayak himself to protest the rig last week, isn't only fighting Shell from the safety of his City Councilmember's office, but is actually taking to the water along with other "kayaktivists", he says: "For me, because it's happening right here in my city on my waterfront, I, frankly, can't just stay in my chambers and work on this. I felt the need to get out there and join with my fellow citizens to be part of the activity on the water." He adds: "The number of us and the size of us compared to this monstrosity is a monument to the hubris of the oil industry."
Well worth listening to today's interview! Also today: The weekend's deadly biker gang shootout in Waco results in TX legislators calling for more guns; Religious freedom in Indiana? Not so much if your religion is Rastafarianism; And a 10,000 year old ice shelf in Antarctica is about to disappear entirely. But why worry?...
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(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)
As its reputation goes to pot, it looks like Indiana's new "religious freedom" law has sparked up more trouble than even Gov. Mike Pence (R) expected.
U.S. News reports "Indiana's Church of Cannabis Growing Like a Weed":
That law - the Religious Freedom Restoration Act - generally bans state officials from burdening a person's exercise of religion, "even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability."
Opponents say the law blesses discrimination by business owners against people they dislike, with most news coverage focused on the possible effects on sexual minorities.
Bill Levin, founder of the First Church of Cannabis, believes his religion will help restore the state's reputation after an intense bout of bad press.
"I created the fastest-growing religion in America last week," Levin tells U.S. News. "I've got to cork the leak up that [Indiana Gov. Mike] Pence caused with love."
Levin says he and other church members "all smoke religiously" and says supportive attorneys are advising him. He's working to find a facility with a large sanctuary.
"We have people who will be pilgriming in from California, from Maine, from Florida," he says. "I planned this to be a small church of three to five hundred, but the numbers have staggeringly grown."
"Of course I'm going to test this law. I'm not going to test it, I'm going to beat it," Levin says. "We're building a church with the cornerstone of love, the way religions are supposed to be built."
From today's breaking news on Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ); to today's breaking news on mandatory water restrictions in CA; to a shockingly good act of MSM journalism helping to force Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN) to do the right thing; to our latest exclusive on U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller's "wife-beating" case; to callers' opinions (lots of 'em!) on the one condition I'd agree to in exchange for mandatory voting (a very popular condition, it seems!)
PLUS, one caller surprises me with a song that seems to be about me (it actually has my name in it!) and Desi Doyen joins us for a very amusing Green News Report!...
Told ya we covered a lot of ground. Please enjoy it! I know I did!
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- with Brad Friedman
[An earlier version of this article was originally published by Truthout...]
Both election integrity advocates and dissembling GOP proponents of Photo ID voting restrictions were taken by surprise in late 2013 when 7th Circuit Court Judge Richard A. Posner said, during an interview with HuffPo Live, that the landmark 2008 Supreme Court decision on the matter "would have been decided differently" if the Court had known then "about the abuse of voter identification laws."
That, in and of itself, was a remarkable turn of events. What was ultimately to come was even more so.
Crawford v. Marion County Election Board is the case which Republican proponents of strict Photo ID voting laws now (incorrectly and often disingenuously) cite as giving them carte blanche to enact similar laws in other states, irrespective of the extent to which photo ID laws serve to disenfranchise demographic groups --- minorities, students, the poor, women --- that all tend to vote for Democrats.
Posner is not just any judge. He is a renowned legal scholar and Reagan appointee to the federal bench, who has served on the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeal since 1981. More importantly here, Posner was the author of the 7th Circuit's opinion in Crawford. In that case, Posner rejected an allegation that Indiana's polling place photo ID restriction was unconstitutional. That decision was affirmed at the time by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Posner, who is, as Yale Law Professor Fred Shapiro notes, the most cited jurist of the 20th Century, was not alone in his view in 2013 year that Crawford "would have been decided differently" if the Court knew then what it knows now.
Former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, the author of the plurality opinion in Crawford --- an opinion that was joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Kennedy --- told the Wall Street Journal following Posner's remarks at the time, that he "always thought that [dissenting Justice] David Souter got the thing correct, but my own problem with the case was that I didn't think the record [before the Court in 2008] supported everything he said in his opinion." Souter would have struck down the Indiana law as unconstitutional because, as he argued at the time, it "threatens to impose nontrivial burdens" upon the right to vote.
Joined by four other 7th Circuit jurists last October, Posner penned an extraordinarily powerful and compelling dissent [PDF] in Wisconsin's photo ID voting case. The previously missing evidence is now in, as the judge meticulously detailed in the opinion. GOP claims that photo ID restrictions are needed to combat "voter fraud", he wrote, are "a mere fig leaf for efforts to disenfranchise voters likely to vote for the political party that does not control the state government"...
Posner's carefully crafted dissent does more than establish why the U.S. Supreme Court should ultimately sustain the District Court's finding that Wisconsin's photo ID law is both unconstitutional and a violation of the Voting Rights Act --- a finding later echoed by a federal District Court in Texas as well. Posner's dissent obliterates the factual premise that had served as a pillar upon which his, and subsequently the Supreme Court's, decisions in Crawford were based.
Polling place photo ID laws do not promote voter confidence in the integrity of elections, as Posner and the Crawford Supreme Court plurality had erroneously assumed. The assertion that they do was a "mistake" --- Posner's mistake! --- and he now admits as much, with the support of devastating new data from recent studies to back him up.
His powerful dissent amounts to more than just a response to the Wisconsin GOP's new Photo ID voting law. It is an elegant plea that the U.S. Supreme Court finally right a grievous wrong that he was personally responsible for. Posner presents an astonishing, air-tight case for ruling that all "strict Photo ID laws," which, as he demonstrates, have only been enacted in states sporting GOP-controlled legislatures, must now be struck-down as unconstitutional...
It was a very long night here last night (just scroll down the marquee at right to get an idea), and now I'm scrambling to try and make enough sense of things to coherently put together today's BradCast on KPFK/Pacifica Radio. Wish me luck.
So, for the moment, I just want to re-re-re-remind that, historically, many problems from Election Day and, more specifically, in the tabulation of results, don't come to light until the days (or even longer) after Election Day. I'm already getting buried with various tips about various problems that folks had voting yesterday and, perhaps more disturbingly, issues and failures at the polls themselves. Trying to look through as much as I can, confirm what I can, debunk what I can and/or and make sense of it for you as best as possible.
For now then, I'll just drop this fun paragraph from a poster at Slashdot, as it points to a few issues we've covered over the past 24 hours, as well as a few that we have not...
So, instead of live from the KPFK studios this week, we are once again "live" from BRAD BLOG World News Headquarters once again for this week's show. (If you heard last week's episode/primal scream, you'll be happy to know that the news this week is considerably more encouraging!)
Having trouble keeping up with the very latest on all of the on again/off again GOP voter suppression laws across the country just over two weeks before Election Day? Me too! So, if you missed any of our roller coaster coverage here at the blog, on all the fine messes over the past week or so, I try to get you all caught up on what you need to know about the latest in the court battles over the unconstitutional Republican Photo ID voting restrictions in Wisconsin, Arkansas and Texas...and on the one devastating appellate court opinion that might ultimately kill them all once and for all.
Buckle up (and please feel free to drop something in the BRAD BLOG Tip Jar while you're listening!)...
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[This article now cross-published by Salon...]
If you read just one top-to-bottom dismantling of every supposed premise in support of disenfranchising Photo ID voting restrictions laws in your lifetime, let it be this one [PDF]!
It is a dissent, released on Friday, written by Judge Richard Posner, the Reagan-appointed 7th Circuit Court of Appeals judge who was the one who approved the first such Photo ID law in the country (Indiana's) back in 2008, in the landmark Crawford v. Marion County case which went all the way to the Supreme Court, where Posner's ruling was affirmed.
If there was ever evidence that a jurist could change their mind upon review of additional subsequent evidence, this is it. If there was ever a concise and airtight case made against Photo ID laws and the threat they pose to our most basic right to vote, this is it. If there was ever a treatise revealing such laws for the blatantly partisan shell games that they are, this is it.
His dissent includes a devastating response to virtually every false and/or disingenuous rightwing argument/talking point ever put forth in support of Photo ID voting restrictions, describing them as "a mere fig leaf for efforts to disenfranchise voters likely to vote for the political party that does not control the state government."
Posner is, by far, the most widely cited legal scholar of the 20th century, according to The Journal of Legal Studies. His opinions are closely read by the Supreme Court, where the battle over the legality and Constitutionality of Photo ID voting laws will almost certainly wind up at some point in the not too distant future. That's just one of the reasons why this opinion is so important.
This opinion, written on behalf of five judges on the 7th Circuit, thoroughly disabuses such notions such as: these laws are meant to deal with a phantom voter fraud concern ("Out of 146 million registered voters, this is a ratio of one case of voter fraud for every 14.6 million eligible voters"); that evidence shows them to be little more than baldly partisan attempts to keep Democratic voters from voting ("conservative states try to make it difficult for people who are outside the mainstream...to vote"); that rightwing partisan outfits like True the Vote, which support such laws, present "evidence" of impersonation fraud that is "downright goofy, if not paranoid"; and the notion that even though there is virtually zero fraud that could even possibly be deterred by Photo ID restrictions, the fact that the public thinks there is, is a lousy reason to disenfranchise voters since there is no evidence that such laws actually increase public confidence in elections and, as new studies now reveal, such laws have indeed served to suppress turnout in states where they have been enacted.
There is far too much in it to appropriately encapsulate here for now. Ya just really need to take some time to read it in full. But it was written, largely, in response to the Appellate Court ruling last week by rightwing Judge Frank Easterbrook which contained one embarrassing falsehood and error after another, including the canards about Photo ID being required to board airplanes, open bank accounts, buy beer and guns, etc. We took apart just that one paragraph of Easterbrook's ruling last week here, but Posner takes apart his colleague's entire, error-riddled mess of a ruling in this response.
Amongst my favorite passages (and there are so many), this one [emphasis added]...
And this one...
And remember, once again, this is written by Richard Posner, the conservative Republican icon of a federal appellate court judge --- the judge who wrote the opinion on behalf of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals approving of the first such Photo ID law in the country in 2008, the very case that rightwingers from Texas to Wisconsin now cite over and over (almost always incorrectly) in support of similar such laws --- now, clearly admitting that he got the entire thing wrong.
One last point (for now): Our legal analyst Ernie Canning, who (along with me) will undoubtedly have much more to say on this dissent in upcoming days, suggests we award The BRAD BLOG's almost-never-anymore-bestowed Intellectually Honest Conservative Award to Judge Posner. And so it shall be.
Now go read Posner's dissent...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)
Let me say this up front, so you don't miss it this time: No, a Photo ID is not required to board an airplane. Period.
Last week, the ACLU filed an emergency appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court in hopes of having the 7th Circuit Court of Appeal's ruling --- which overturned a lower court's injunction on Wisconsin's new Photo ID voting restriction --- stayed in advance of next month's election.
Today (Monday) a rather remarkable new opinion was issued by the 7th Circuit which seems designed to serve as a last-minute assist to the Republican defendants in Wisconsin in their response to the ACLU appeal, as Justice Elena Kagan has required the state's response no later than 5pm on Tuesday. The ruling is littered with blatant falsehoods.
To recap very briefly, how we got to this point, and the astonishing claims in the 7th Circuit's opinion today: the GOP law requiring very specific types of state-issued Photo IDs for voting in Wisconsin was struck down earlier this year after it was found, by U.S. District Court Judge Lynn Adelman, to be both a violation of the U.S. Constitution and the federal Voting Rights Act. His thorough, 70-page ruling [PDF] found that some 300,000 legally registered voters in Wisconsin (nearly 10% of them) lacked the specific type of Photo ID that would now be needed vote under the new restriction. Adelman also determined that the law amounts to a "unique burden [which] disproportionately impacts Black and Latino voters" (who just happen to lean towards Democratic candidates), and that the new restriction on voting would "prevent more legitimate votes from being cast than fraudulent votes."
In mid-September, on appeal, a panel of three Republican-appointed judges on the 7th Circuit tossed out Adelman's permanent injunction with little comment. Amidst ensuing "electoral chaos", as election officials and voters in the state scrambled to make sense of the stunning last minute change to the law, just weeks before the mid-term election, the ACLU appealed for a rehearing before the full 7th Circuit. That hearing resulted in a deadlocked 5 to 5 vote by the judges (one seat on the court has been vacant since 2010), which meant that the partisan 3-judge panel's ruling, restoring the Photo ID restriction after it had been struck down by the lower court, now remains in place.
That brings us to the ACLU's emergency appeal to SCOTUS last week, and Monday's remarkable new opinion issued by the 7th Circuit at the last minute, clearly made to justify the original opinion issued last week which seems to have otherwise landed with a thud. (The court had attempted to compare a "need" to restore new voting restrictions at the last minute to the U.S. Supreme Court's stay placed on the overturning of same-sex marriage bans in several states last year. The dissenters called the court's legal theories "brazen", "shocking" and on its central thesis comparing the WI law to a 2008 landmark case in Indiana, "dead wrong.")
University of California-Irvine's election law professor Rick Hasen described the new opinion issued on Monday as "a nice assist from the 7th Circuit panel to the state of Wisconsin," just in time for the SCOTUS deadline.
In a more detailed follow-up item, however, Hasen, who is usually quite conservative when it comes to concerns about Photo ID voting restrictions, went somewhat ballistic. He uncharacteristically upbraided the 7th Circuit's newly issued ruling --- apparently written by the very rightwing Federalist Society member Judge Frank Easterbrook --- as "Horrendous".
"I rarely just rant in my blog posts," he tweeted, along with a link to his follow-up, "But Judge Easterbrook caused me to blow a gasket."
I know the feeling. I felt the exact same way while reading the new opinion today, particularly the part in which the court offers blatant --- and long-ago debunked --- falsehoods about where and when they claim Photo ID to be "essential", such as when boarding an airplane.
Trouble is, that is a blatant lie. A Photo ID is absolutely not required to board an airplane, no matter how many times proponents of these sorts of laws repeat the false claim. And it's simply remarkable that such a lie (and others akin to it) would be included in a last-minute opinion meant to justify an Appellate Court ruling that is about to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court...
Rather than hear appeals from cases in Utah, Indiana, Oklahoma, Virginia and Wisconsin where marriage equality bans were struck down, the U.S. Supreme Court shocked court watchers today by deciding to avoid the issue of marriage equality as a Constitutional right entirely for the time being. Effectively, that means the lower-court rulings stand in each of those states, so freedom, liberty and the conservative Constitutional value of equal justice for all wins the day in each of them.
Evan Wolfson, founder and president of Freedom to Marry, a national organization dedicated to the fight for equality in all fifty states, said after today's Supreme Court punt: "This decision by the Court is a huge step forward --- and a clear green light for full-speed ahead --- but it needlessly postpones the national resolution that together we've been working so hard for. Freedom to Marry is committed to finishing the job."
Couples in six other states where the Circuit Court of Appeals' decisions will likely also apply include Colorado, Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia and Wyoming.
With the addition of those 11 states, the list of states where marriage equality for all will soon be recognized will jump to 30, continuing to beg the question of which state will disgrace the Union as the very last one to allow equality, in this measure, for all of its citizens.
On Thursday morning, the ACLU filed an Emergency Application to Vacate [PDF] with the U.S. Supreme Court to vacate a Sept. 14, 2014 stay of a U.S. District Court ruling that had, before the stay, permanently blocked enforcement of a Republican-enacted, Wisconsin photo ID voting law.
The civil rights organization argues that the emergency ruling is needed to prevent mass disenfranchisement and electoral chaos during the upcoming Nov. 4 election. It asks that the Court "leave that injunction in force pending the Seventh Circuit's issuance of a decision on the merits."
As the District Court judge had found, before his decision was overturned by a partisan ruling at the Appellate Court level, Wisconsin's attempted restriction on the voting rights of legally registered voters poses a real and present danger that some 10% of the Badger State's duly registered electorate will likely be prevented from voting in the rapidly approaching November 4 election.
The District Court's injunction had been stayed as a result of a deadlocked court, in which five bipartisan members of the ten-judge U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeal described in a Sept. 29 Opinion [PDF] as a "brazen" and "shocking" disregard of both precedent and the right of the minority to vote. That "shocking" position had been advanced by the attorneys representing Republican Gov. Scott Walker and first accepted by an all-GOP, three-judge panel that had issued an extraordinary, 11th hour decision to vacate the lower court's injunction.
The case now poses an enormous test for at least two key Justices on the high court. Will Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Anthony Kennedy adhere to the very principles they signed on to when they joined the plurality opinion authored by former Justice John Paul Stevens in the landmark 2008 SCOTUS decision in Crawford v. Marion County Board of Elections? That case upheld Indiana's Photo ID law against a "facial" challenge solely because, in the words of the plurality opinion, there was no evidence before the court at the time to prove anyone would be disenfranchised or that their right to vote would be unduly burdened by the law.
In signing onto Steven's lead opinion, both Roberts and Kennedy agreed that election laws, including photo ID voting restrictions, are subject to the Anderson/Burdick test. That test mandates that courts, on a case-by-case basis, measure a law's potential damage to voters' right to vote against the specific claims made by the state as to why such additional burdens and restrictions are necessary. Given that the state has offered no legitimate reason for potentially disenfranchising as much as 10% of Wisconsin's lawfully registered voters, Roberts and Kennedy cannot refuse to lift the stay without a total abandonment of principle...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Fire and explosion at Indiana refinery with a history of exploding; UN climate report warns of 'irreversible' global warming; Million-dollar fines for oil and chemical spills; Renewable energy now produces 22% of world's electricity; PLUS: Get ready for the People's Climate March on Sept. 21 in NYC ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): "An actual exit from climate hell"; 4 scenarios of our global warming future; Unpackaged: German market revolutionizes shopping; Hawaii's largest utility will triple rooftop solar by 2020; US coal industry in free fall; Yosemite Rim Fire trees to be logged; Ocean acidification is killing Bay Area's oyster industry ... PLUS: Erick Erickson really wants you to know he doesn't care about global warming ... and much, MUCH more! ...
Back during the 2012 election cycle, there were so many cases of voter fraud and voter registration fraud by Republicans --- even very very high profile ones --- that The BRAD BLOG found ourselves dubbing it the "Year of GOP Election Fraud".
Well, it looks like there were even more GOP vote fraudsters at work that year, including this amazing case just revealed by prosecutors from the contentious 2012 Wisconsin recall elections of Republican Gov. Scott Walker and a number of state Senators, as well as the incredibly close state Supreme Court race that became a proxy battle election between Walker supporters and opponents...
[This article now cross-published by Salon...]
Just over a week ago, The BRAD BLOG's legal analyst Ernie Canning posited that the decision by a federal court in Wisconsin to strike down that state's polling place Photo ID law could signal "the beginning of the end" for such disenfranchising, Republican-enacted laws around the nation.
Since that landmark ruling in the Badger State, new signs from top elected Republican officials in Pennsylvania and Iowa, and even in Wisconsin, suggest that the (at least) decade-long GOP "voter fraud" fraud may have finally peaked, and will now begin the inevitably long slide into abandoned, historical shame.
We don't want to be too quick to declare the demise of this insidious attempt at reviving Jim Crow with a sophisticated and nefariously misleading legal patina, but after covering this beat for a decade --- long before much of the general public, much less the Democratic Party itself, seemed to notice --- it seems that the recent landmark court ruling in WI, followed by last week's towel toss in Pennsylvania and embarrassing revelations in Iowa, may be seen in the not-too-distant future as the moment that the GOP "voter fraud" fraud finally began to permanently unravel...
This week's federal court decision to strike down Wisconsin's polling place Photo ID law has national significance and does not bode well for Republicans who have been attempting to advance such electoral schemes in recent years, as based on misleading "facts", wild claims and dishonest interpretations of case law and court precedent.
The court's landmark decision in the Wisconsin case contains a methodology for testing the law's constitutionality that, if applied by other courts in similar federal challenges to similar laws in other states, would likely mark the beginning of the end for Republican-enacted, polling place Photo ID restrictions. We describe that possibility as "likely", given that a careful reading of prior case law suggests that six of the Supreme Court's nine Justices have already subscribed to legal opinions that are consistent with the methodology used by the federal court in Wisconsin.
In late 2011, shortly after the filing of the first of the two federal cases that resulted in this week's ruling finding that Wisconsin's polling place Photo ID law (Act 23) violated both the U.S. Constitution and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA), The BRAD BLOG explained why the issues before the federal bench in Wisconsin "could reverse similar laws nationwide."
The 90-page decision and order [PDF] that U.S. District Court Judge Lynn Adelman meticulously crafted, not only after a full trial on the merits, but over a span of more than 3 1/2 months following it, suggests that our earlier prediction may have been an understatement.
In declaring Wisconsin's Republican-enacted Photo ID law unconstitutional and a violation of federal law, Judge Adelman applied a very specific test for the law, one called for by the U.S. Supreme Court back in 2008. That same test, measuring the potential benefits of such laws against their possible harm to voters' rights, if similarly applied elsewhere, would likely invalidate most, if not all of the similar restrictions which have been rammed through numerous GOP-majority state legislatures over the past six years.
While stopping short of describing Republican "justifications" for such laws as a mere pretext for voter suppression, Judge Adelman's decision persuasively finds that the core GOP claims about the supposed need for polling place Photo ID restrictions cannot withstand judicial scrutiny when tested against a fact-based reality in a court of law. The judge found, in no uncertain terms, that such laws are constitutionally infirm because, without legitimate state interests for such restrictions, they serve only to disproportionately disenfranchise the poor, the elderly and minority voters...
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