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Latest Featured Reports | Saturday, May 18, 2024
FEC Repubs Vote to Allow Campaign Donor Anonymity: 'BradCast' 5/16/24
Guest: Public Citizen's Craig Holman; Also: Two (generally) encouraging SCOTUS rulings on CFPB funding and a second Black-majority U.S. House district in Louisiana...
'Green News Report' 5/16/24
  w/ Brad & Desi
Canadian wildfires expand; Climate change exacerbated extreme heat in Asia; Broadcast media ignored Trump's billion dollar Big Oil quid pro quo; Plus: Biden v. China on EVs...
Previous GNRs: 5/14/24 - 5/9/24 - Archives...
Trump Trial Ketchup: Cohen, a 'Smoking Gun', and 'The Cult of Trump': 'BradCast' 5/15/24
Guests: Heather Digby Parton of Salon, attorney Keith Barber of Daily Kos; Also: MD, NE, WV primary results; Biden, Trump agree to early debates...
LAPD Right-Wing Bias in Violent Response to UCLA Protest Was No Surprise
U.S. law enforcement has long sided with the right against peaceful anti-war, environmental, racial and economic injustice protesters...
Could Ohio Repubs REALLY Keep Biden Off the Ballot?!: 'BradCast' 5/14/24
Also: GOP dirty tricks in WA; More GOP voter suppression in GA; Brighter news from WI and on the slow painful death of 'stare decisis'...
'Green News Report' 5/14/24
  w/ Brad & Desi
Canada's fire season erupts, as smoke chokes U.S. Upper Midwest; Record-breaking increase in global CO2 levels; PLUS: MI is newest state to sue Big Oil for climate damages...
Previous GNRs: 5/9/24 - 5/7/24 - Archives...
Recount in Tied U.S. House Primary Highlights Probs in CA Law: 'BradCast' 5/13/24
Guest: Dr. John Maa; Also: Bannon denied; Giuliani fired; Menendez trial begins; Cohen takes stand in Trump's NY criminal trial...
Sunday 'Stormy Weather Continues' Toons
THIS WEEK: Cannon Fire ... Catch and Kill ... Parasites ... Protesting Too Much ... and more, in our latest collection of the week's most turbulent toons...
Facing Down the Threat to American Democracy: 'BradCast' 5/9/24
A veteran reporter speaks out; DHS marshals defenses; Lara lies about ballots; Johnson lies about 'illegals' voting; Also: MTG's spectacular fail; Stormy wins the day; Biden cuts off Israel...
'Green News Report' 5/9/24
  w/ Brad & Desi
Tornado outbreaks across U.S.; FL Repubs ban 'climate change'; House Repubs' latest salvo in 'War on Woke Appliances'; PLUS: US culture shift in portrayal of climate reality...
Previous GNRs: 5/7/24 - 5/2/24 - Archives...
Trump Trial Ketchup:
Stormy Takes the Stand: 'BradCast' 5/8/24
Guests: Heather Digby Parton of Salon, attorney Keith Barber of Daily Kos; Also: 'Warning signs' from IN primary results; Blankenship's run in WV...
New Cybersecurity Breach in Coffee County, GA: 'BradCast' 5/7/24
Guest: Election integrity expert Marilyn Marks; Also: Stormy takes the stand in NY; GA's Republican former Lt. Gov. endorses Biden...
'Green News Report' 5/7/24
Relentless rain, flooding in Houston and Brazil; April 2024 was hottest on record; PLUS: Biden unveils billions for rural clean energy, replacing toxic lead water pipes...
2024 Electoral -- and Climate -- Omens: 'BradCast' 5/6/24
From Britain to Panama to Brazil to Houston; Also: Latest in Israel's war on Gaza and in Trump's NY criminal trial...
Sunday 'Self Reflecting' Toons
THIS WEEK: Champions of 'free speech' ... 'Captain Fascism' ... Kristi 'Dog Gone' Noem... and more, in our latest collection of the week's best political toons...
'Green News Report' 5/2/24
Extreme heat, storms grip Asia; Big brands and Big Plastic; Plastic pollution treaty talks end; PLUS: Congress finds Big Oil still trying to deceive the public...
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...


Guest: Campaign finance expert Craig Holman of Public Citizen; Also: Two (generally) encouraging SCOTUS rulings on CFPB funding and a second Black-majority U.S. House district in Louisiana...
By Brad Friedman on 5/16/2024 6:55pm PT  

It's received almost zero attention or notice, but the Republican appointees to the Federal Election Commission on Thursday tried to overturn a bedrock principle of American democracy: transparency of contributions and the identities of donors to political campaigns. The move caught us here at The BradCast by surprise, but we feel slightly better after hearing that our guest today, one of the nation's foremost experts on campaign finance, also just learned about this unprecedented effort. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

BUT FIRST UP... Two unusual rulings from the packed, stolen and corrupted U.S. Supreme Court. Unusual for several reasons. One, because both oppose rightwing advocacy. Two, because a majority of rightwingers on the Court voted in favor of both of them. And three, because the Court's liberals voted in a bloc against one of them! We try to make sense of all of that for you today in each of the two rulings.

One came late on Wednesday, when the Court invoked the so-called Purcell Principle, which prevents changes to election rules, laws and district maps too close to an election, theoretically in order to avoid confusion by voters or election administrators. But this principle is opportunistically invoked by the rightwing Court when they feel like it --- even it means allowing, for example, the use of a U.S. House District map that has been found unconstitutional by the courts --- and ignored when they don't.

Their unsigned shadow-docket ruling [PDF] on Wednesday, however, invoked Purcell to allow a U.S. House District map that was newly approved by Louisiana's GOP-controlled legislature. It adds a second Black-majority voting district in the state after its previous map was found to be in violation of the Voting Rights Act following a years-long legal fight. But after the new map was approved by the state earlier this year, a group of self-described "non-Black voters" sued, claiming the new map was an unlawful racial gerrymander. A 3-judge panel on the 5th Circuit agreed and ordered a new new map. That is the order that was blocked on Wednesday by SCOTUS, allowing the second Black-majority district to stand as is, at least for 2024, even as the Court's liberal Justices, to the surprise of many, voted in against the rightwing majority. If you're confused as to why, tune in! We explain all!

The other unusual SCOTUS ruling came today, via a 7 to 2 majority opinion [PDF] written by Justice Clarence Thomas(!) and opposed only by fellow rightwing Justices Sam Alito and Neil Gorsuch. The majority opinion rejected an effort by the sleazy payday lending industry to kill the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

The CFPB was the brainchild of Elizabeth Warren during the Obama Administration, before she became a U.S. Senator. It was created on the heels of the subprime mortgage crisis that led to the Great Recession. To avoid industry influence on funding of the federal government's only consumer-oriented agency, it was housed inside of the Federal Reserve and allowed to draw up to $600 million per year for its budget, rather than go through the Congressional appropriations process each year. The payday lender group filed suit to argue the CFPB's funding mechanism ran afoul of the Constitution's Appropriations Clause and, therefore, all of the CFPB's actions since its 2010 founding, including billions of dollars in fines leveed against their industry, must all be rolled back and the agency dissolved.

Thomas, the Court's liberals, and three more of its Republican appointees flatly rejected the lender's case. They held that, though its funding mechanism is somewhat outside the norm, Congress may still change the way it is funded at any time. Also, as the majority opinion notes, there have been other agencies, such as the Customs Service and USPS, which have had similar, non-annual standing appropriations since the founding of the country.

NEXT... On Thursday, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) held an historic vote on a new rule to allow campaign donors to remain anonymous if they claimed that allowing their identities to become public would lead to harassment. The Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) already allows some very rare exceptions for members of groups who are shown to have been historically harassed by the U.S. Government itself. Beyond that, however, allowing for campaign donors to remain anonymous challenges the very basis of our system of open, transparent, democratic elections.

We're joined today by CRAIG HOLMAN, longtime government affairs and ethics lobbyist at the non-profit watchdog Public Citizen. He is helping to lead the fight against this startling effort headed up by Trump-appointed FEC Commissioner Alan Dickerson.

The new rule "cuts into the very fabric of a functional democratic society," argues Public Citizen in its public comment against the rule. They note it would "vastly expand the donor [disclosure] exemption far beyond its original purpose, would undermine effective disclosure of the sources of political spending, deprive voters of critical election information, swamp the FEC under a wave of new paperwork, and runs contrary to the core mission of the agency." Other than that, it's great!

"What I really find astounding is that people of all partisan persuasions, Democrats and Republicans, have always believed in disclosure," Holman tells me today. "That's the one pillar of campaign finance law that no one has really come out against. The Republicans may come out against contribution limits, regulation of money in politics, but they always say to have transparency so we know where the money is coming from. This is the very first time that the FEC has encroached upon that principle."

The good(ish) news for now, is that he reports the Commission deadlocked, in a three-to-three vote along partisan lines today. That kills it for the moment. Though, in a second vote today, Holman says they agreed to ask the FEC's General Counsel to study the matter and report back in 75 days. That, he says, is likely to result in a second attempt by Dickerson later this year. Holman says he knows Dickerson to be a "hardcore deregulation" supporter. But "this is the first time the FEC has addressed the actual issue: 'Should we just get rid of disclosure altogether?'"

"Fortunately the FEC deadlocked," Holman says. But "that means three Republicans were saying 'Yes, let's get rid of disclosure!' That's frightening. We only defeated this resolution by a deadlock vote."

Holman has much more on "how absurd" Dickerson's proposal is, and the fact that "it caught us all by surprise." He also fills us in on a petition that he has filed for a new FEC rule that will be voted on next month regarding mandatory disclosure by campaigns when they use deepfake audio and video, created by Artificial Intelligence, to mislead voters.

FINALLY... Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as wildfires continue to explode in Canada; Broadcast media continues to ignore Donald Trump's billion-dollar quid pro quo proposal to Big Oil donors; and Joe Biden takes on China regarding the sale of electric vehicles and solar panels in the U.S...

[NOTE: The BradCast will be off at the beginning of next week due to a family funeral. We'll be back soon!]

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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U.S. law enforcement has long sided with the right against peaceful anti-war, environmental, racial and economic injustice protesters...
Update, 5/17/24: Paradox of police power covered by newly released Netflix film, 'Power'...
By Ernest A. Canning on 5/15/2024 10:05am PT  

The May 3 article that appeared in UCLA's campus newspaper, the Daily Bruin, was disturbing but not surprising. The LAPD stood idly by as a group of "tear gas" wielding, pro-Israel "counter-protesters" violently attacked a pro-Palestine protest encampment. The attack reportedly went on for nearly four hours before the LAPD moved in, not to stop counter-protester violence, but to breakup the encampment.

In a formal Statement, staff members of the UCLA History Department noted:

LAPD advanced on the student encampment, pushing and herding them, using the tactic of kettling. Forced closely together, the students made easy targets for police who shot them with stun grenades, chemical agents, and rubber bullets. Police beat them with batons and shot them with rubber bullets, striking one student in the face with a rubber bullet. At least twenty-five students had to be hospitalized. They then arrested approximately 200 students, staff, faculty, dragging visibly injured students away.

The history professors chastised both University of California administrators and the LAPD for their "disregard" for "students' safety and their right to express their views."

The professors weren't the only ones to express concern for law enforcement's failure to intercede as pro-Israel "counter protesters" violently attacked the encampment. California's Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, according to the Los Angeles Daily News, "called for investigations into [why the] pro-Israeli counter-protesters' attack...was allowed to rage for several hours with little to no police intervention."

Sadly, the story, as recounted by the Daily Bruin and the UCLA history professors, is on the continuum of well over a century of right-wing bias on the part of local, state and federal law enforcement against those who exercise First Amendment rights to engage in non-violent strikes or in peaceful, anti-war, environmental, and civil rights protests....

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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Guests: Dr. Allison Gill of 'Mueller, She Wrote', Keith Barber of Daily Kos; Also: Dems outperform again in NY; 4th Circuit nixes some PA ballots; Federal judges strike down LA's new Black majority House district...
By Brad Friedman on 5/1/2024 6:15pm PT  

The historic trial for Donald Trump's 2016 election interference indictment continues, but was on a break today in New York. That gives us an opportunity to get caught up with all the action since our previous mid-week "ketchup" episode in the first-ever criminal trial of a former U.S. President. We have much to discuss to that end on today's BradCast, but we first kick it off with some election and voting rights news. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

  • Democrats "massively outperformed" pre-election polling yet again on Tuesday, in a Special Election for the U.S. House in New York's 26th Congressional District. Timothy Kennedy was predicted to win the seat by 9 points. He won by 36!!!
  • The Trump-appointee heavy 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals voted to uphold a three-judge panel finding that mail-in ballots with missing or incorrect dates on their outer envelope in Pennsylvania must be tossed out, even though, as both sides agree, that date is used for exactly nothing. If a voter, for example, writes 2023 instead of 2024 on the ballot's outer sleeve this November, it cannot be counted, according to the Court. Democrats disproportionately vote by mail, as compared to Republicans, in the Keystone State. Voting Rights advocates are now deciding whether to take the matter to SCOTUS (good luck with that) or rehear the matter on a different basis at the trial court. Both options offer a perilous path before this year's election in the critical battleground state.
  • In an absolutely twisted ruling, a three-judge federal panel ruled on Tuesday struck down Louisiana's newly-drawn second majority-Black U.S. House district, declaring it to be "an impermissible racial gerrymander". The new House map was approved by the state's GOP-controlled legislature earlier this year after they'd lost their long fight in federal court against adding a second Black voting district in a state which has long had just one (out of six), despite Black voters comprising one-third of the state. The new map with the newly redrawn district was already used to select candidates in the state's primaries last month. As explained today, this is likely to become a real test of the corrupted U.S. Supreme Court's often opportunistically used, so-called "Purcell Principle".

NEXT, we're joined by longtime Trump-crime watchers DR. ALLISON GILL of the notorious Mueller, She Wrote and The Daily Beans Podcast, and attorney KEITH BARBER of Daily Kos. Among the topics we finally get caught up on today...

  • Why Trump is reportedly furious at his attorneys.
  • Trump's Tuesday conviction on criminal contempt of court charges for violating his gag order nine times, and what those charges may mean for the bail conditions in his three other criminal indictments.
  • How Trump is benefiting from --- and staying out of jail due to --- an obviously two-tiered justice system.
  • Drowsy Don's reported inability to stay awake during the trial, why it's happening and what jurors are likely to make of it.
  • What we've learned from recent witnesses including CSPAN's archivist; Stormy Daniels' and Karen McDougal's former attorney Keith Davidson (and why they both had the same attorney?!); and Gary Farro, the banker who set up the account that then Trump attorney Michael Cohen used to send $130,000 in hush-money to Daniels just before the 2016 election.
  • Why Trump's family, friends and supporters are largely failing to show up for him in NY at all.
  • And how convicted rapist Harvey Weinstein's recently overturned NY conviction may affect the case against our disgraced former President...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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2024 needs transformative solidarity to overcome corrupt, authoritarian forces unleashed with the help of past third-party campaigns...
By Ernest A. Canning on 5/1/2024 9:35am PT  

At a moment when, as President Joe Biden has aptly warned, both "democracy" and "freedom" will be on the ballot in November, third-party myopia poses a clear and present danger to survival of constitutional democracy in these United States.

Metaphorically, the word "myopia" refers to "cognitive thinking and decision making that is narrow in scope or lacking in foresight or in concern for wider interests or for longer-term consequences." It is a metaphor that, in this current cycle, can be applied to the Presidential campaigns of Green Party candidate Jill Stein, People's Party candidate Cornell West, and the independent candidacy of Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

Third-party myopia lies in the near mathematical certainty that none of these three candidates can secure a single electoral vote, let alone the 270 needed to become the next POTUS. It also lies in the failure of progressive third-party candidates to recognize the potential for "blowback" --- for example, the creation of a supermajority of corrupt, democracy-subverting rightwing SCOTUS ideologues as an unintended consequence of past third-party Presidential campaigns. Myopia can also be found in the polemic canard that there's no ideological difference between the two major parties. That thinking is false on countless levels, but especially when it comes to the very core of our democracy: voting rights. On that score alone, the two major parties are polar opposites.

By their very nature, third-party campaigns are divisive --- a truly unfortunate circumstance at this pivotal moment in our nation's history. But if ever there was a time for We the People to unite in our resolve that, in the immortal words of Abraham Lincoln, "government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth", it would be on Nov. 5, 2024. Only "transformative solidarity" can save our precious constitutional democracy.

Here's why...

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Guest: LawDork's Chris Geidner; Also: Scam GOP impeachment trial ends in one day; AZ Repubs spike repeal of 1864 abortion law (again); Voter turnout doubles in AL's new majority minority U.S. House District...
By Brad Friedman on 4/17/2024 6:34pm PT  

On today's BradCast: If only the corrupted U.S. Supreme Court cared as much about the exact words in Section 3 of the 14th Amendment (the "Insurrectionist Disqualification Clause") as they pretend to care about the word "otherwise" in a criminal statute used to hold hundreds of January 6 insurrectionists --- including the former President --- accountable for obstructing an official government proceeding. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

But, first up today, a few news items of note...

  • Yesterday, House Republicans formerly delivered two articles of revenge impeachment against DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to the U.S. Senate for a trial. Today the trial began and ended, as Democrats determined the articles contained no High Crimes and Misdemeanors as required by the Constitution.
  • Despite pleas from Donald Trump and GOP U.S. Senate candidate Kari Lake for Arizona state lawmakers to repeal their draconian 1864 total abortion ban (which Lake long supported...until the all-GOP state Supreme Court revived the law last week), Republicans lawmakers in the state legislature blocked another attempt by Democrats to repeal the 160-year old territorial law.
  • In Tuesday's Democratic Primary runoff for Alabama's newly redrawn 2nd Congressional District, the popular progressive, Shomari Figures, easily won. The more important news, however, may be that Democratic voter turnout during the first round of voting last month on Super Tuesday doubled from two years earlier. That, after the state was finally ordered by the U.S. Supreme Court to redraw their unconstitutionally, racially gerrymandered Congressional Map to include a second district where Black voters may have a chance of selecting a candidate of their choosing.

Next, we're joined by longtime legal journalist CHRIS GEIDNER of Law Dork News to discuss Tuesday's Oral Argument in Fischer v. U.S. at the U.S. Supreme Court. The case questions whether a January 6th insurrectionist was properly charged with a 2002 law that criminalizes obstruction of an official government proceeding.

Some 300 of about 1,400 of those charged for their participation in the Trump-incited attack on the U.S. Capitol --- including Trump himself --- have been charged and/or convicted by more than a dozen D.C. federal judges under this same statute. But one of those judges, a Trump appointee, rejected the use of the law. He was overturned by the D.C. Court of Appeals, but the plaintiff --- a police officer at the time --- took his case to SCOTUS, which heard it on Tuesday.

Geidner was at the Court this week during Oral Argument and joins us today to explain how the hearing went; why this challenge over the the meaning of the word "otherwise" in the statute even exists; the rightwing Justices' newly-discovered concerns about overcriminalization; whether he believes the Court will kill, narrow or allow the statute to stand as is; and how their ruling might affect both the cases for hundreds of insurrectionists and two of the four criminal charges that rely on the statute in Special Counsel Jack Smith's federal indictment of the former President for his multiple failed attempts to steal the 2020 election.

Geidner also offers a preview of next Thursday's looong-awaited hearing on Trump's ridiculous, rejected-by-every-lower-court, "Presidential Immunity" case, in which he asserts that all Presidents must have absolute immunity to commit any and all crimes they like while in office.

"The arguments advanced by Trump have no foundation in history, in practice, or in experience. And there is a very strong case for imagining that we will get a 9-0 decision in that case, even with this Court," Geidner argues, before noting: "The bottom line here is Trump will still have delayed [his federal 2020 election interference] case. It will be at least May before we get a ruling on this. So, in some ways, win lose or draw, he has won, if the goal here is to avoid the possibility of a conviction on these charges before the election is held in November."

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Also: New rightwing voter suppression schemes in swing-states; Sinema not running again; Trump CFO headed back to prison; New charges for Menendez; 'Christian' Liberty U. covered up sex abuse, rape crimes...
By Brad Friedman on 3/5/2024 5:32pm PT  

We'll have likely-unsurprising results from today's Super Tuesday elections in 16 states on tomorrow's BradCast, but we've got a few reminders today of the stakes, the challenges ahead and why it all matters. [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

Among our stories today...

  • Arizona's former corporatist Democrat turned corporatist independent U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema says she will not run for re-election this November, clearing the way for a 2-person race to fill her U.S. Senate seat this fall. (And, perhaps, with both her and West Virginia's Joe Manchin also not running for re-election this year, a path someday to restoring the gutted Voting Rights Act and much more.)
  • Speaking of the Voting Rights Act, a new study from NYU's Brennan Center of Justice out this week finds that the racial gap between white and black voters has been widening since the U.S. Supreme Court gutted the law's key provision in 2013's Shelby v. Holder, claiming the landmark Act's protections against racially discriminatory voting laws and rules was out of date and no longer needed. While the racial disparity gap has grown everywhere across the country, it has grown twice as much in jurisdictions with a history of racial discrimination at the polls where minority voters were previously protected by the VRA's currently-gutted Section 5 "preclearance" requirement.
  • As if that is not disturbing enough, Republican "voter fraud" fraudster groups, such as the disgraced disinformationists at True the Vote, are ramping up efforts to suppress the vote in advance of this year's general election. According to a new New York Times investigation, a "grassroots" campaign has been quietly challenging the eligibility of thousands of legally registered voters at the County level in a number of swing-states around the country since 2020, removing eligible voters in the bargain and otherwise setting up for post-election challenges to the rolls this November, in the event that Donald Trump loses again.
  • And speaking of the disgraced former President and current 2024 GOP front-runner, his longtime Chief Financial Officer, Allen Weisselberg is headed back to prison after spending about 100 days in Rikers last year related to a years long tax fraud scheme with the Trump Organization. On Monday, the 78-year old pleaded guilty to two counts of perjury after lying on the stand and in depositions with New York state prosecutors regarding his role in the massive, years-long fraud scheme by Trump, his company and his top executives. Trump and the executives, including his two eldest sons and Weisselberg were all found liable in the state's civil fraud case against them. Trump must now pay more than $450 million in penalties. His NY state criminal trial on 34 felony counts related to hush-money payments to help him win the 2016 election begins later this month, as Weisselberg prepares for another five months in the pokey, though he will not be required to testify against Trump under the plea deal.
  • But it's not just rightwingers facing justice this week. On Tuesday, New Jersey's Democratic U.S. Senator Bob Menendez and his wife saw new obstruction charges added to their existing indictments related to allegedly accepting gold bars, cash and a luxury car as bribes in return for favors to several businessmen. Menendez stands accused of using his former position as Chair of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee to help his business associates get multi-millionaire deals with Qatari investment funds and the government of Egypt.
  • Okay, it's just mostly rightwingers. Liberty University, one of the nation's largest so-called "Christian" schools, founded by the late Jerry Falwell, Sr., and subsequently run by his son Jerry Falwell, Jr. (until he was forced out in scandal) has agreed to pay the largest fine ever under the federal Clery Act, requiring that colleges and universities that receive federal funding keep detailed public lists of campus crime statistics. The school must cough up an unprecedented $14 million related to its years-long cover-up of sexual abuse and rape allegations, while fostering a community of fear for women who were often victimized and/or ignored after reporting such incidents to school officials.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as record heat and wildfires continue in Texas; California's Sierra Mountains dig out from an intense weekend blizzard with hurricane-force wind gusts; And as the Biden Administration announced billions of dollars for cleaning up and modernizing the nation's ports under the Democrats' Inflation Reduction Act...

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Guest: Chris Geidner of Law Dork; Also: Did Trump TV network unlawfully obtain and distribute voting machine company passwords after 2020?...
By Brad Friedman on 1/31/2024 6:26pm PT  

If, by now, you don't realize that Republicans are attacking both democracy and the rule of law itself in this country, I don't know what world you live in. But on today's BradCast we've got two fresh --- and disturbing --- examples/warnings. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

FIRST UP today: Did the far-right, pro-Trump propaganda outlet called One America News (OAN) obtain passwords for employees of voting system vendor Smartmatic and then share them with Trump attorney Sidney Powell after the 2020 election? That appears to be what Smartmatic is charging in recently filed court documents, according to CNN, as part of its billion dollar defamation lawsuit against the fake Trump TV "news" outlet.

OAN was just one of many such rightwing outlets that echoed and forwarded Team Trump's false claims of election fraud in 2020. OAN was particularly aggressive in their evidence-free mission to hoax viewers into believing that systems made by Smartmatic and Dominion, another voting system vendor, flipped votes to help Joe Biden that year. The claims against Smartmatic were particularly absurd, given that the company has just one contract in the U.S. for voting systems. That is here in Los Angeles County, were Biden reportedly defeated Trump in 2020 by nearly 2 million votes.

As explained today, however, the reason that the pretend "election integrity" advocates who emerged on the right following 2020, only to offer evidence-free claims and falsely tie Smartmatic to Dominion (and Venezuela's dead former President Hugo Chavez), is likely thanks in no small part to some exclusive reporting we did on the two companies here at The BRAD BLOG, circa 2008 to 2010, which was cited and bastardized by Powell and others on the right after 2020. You're welcome!

NEXT UP: A new legal chapter in a story that deserves much more coverage than it has received to date. In one respect, it's not surprising that it hasn't received much coverage, given that it is based on an absurd legal premise --- one already rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court --- that few thought would ever advance beyond the Trump-appointed U.S. District Court judge who initially gave it credence in a redistricting lawsuit filed by the ACLU on behalf of the NAACP against the state of Arkansas in 2022.

In short, the case was dismissed [PDF] before reaching the merits by U.S. District Judge Lee Rudofsky on the novel grounds that neither voters nor private organizations like the NAACP have the right to sue to enforce Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. Only the U.S. Attorney General may do so, according to the Rudofsky. That news must have come as a great surprise to the hundreds of private plaintiffs who have successfully hundreds of such cases since adoption of the landmark Act in 1965. It also may come as a surprise to the U.S. Supreme Court which, as recently as last June, ruled in favor of private litigants in a redistricting lawsuit against the state of Alabama. Congress is likely shocked as well, given they have reviewed, rewritten and reauthorized the VRA several times since 1965, without ever noticing there was no private right of action to enforce the law.

While the initial ruling was ridiculous enough, a split decision by a three-judge panel on the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in November, incredibly, allowed the lower court ruling to stand. But it got even more absurd this week, when, on Tuesday, the full en banc 8th Circuit Court of Appeals voted 7 to 3 deny a rehearing of the matter, upholding the original lower court's radical, unprecedented ruling. The ACLU described the ruling as "appalling and unjustified," after "More than 400 Section 2 cases have been litigated in federal court in the past four decades to protect the voting rights of racial and language minorities. Private plaintiffs have brought the vast majority of them."

The 8th Circuit, comprised of 10 Republican appointees and one appointed by a Democrat, is not even considered the most radical in the nation. That would be the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals which has recently rejected the notion --- along with SCOTUS --- that there is no right to private action for voters to sue under Section 2.

We're joined today by CHRIS GEIDNER, longtime legal journalist at Law Dork, to explain this gob-smacking series of rulings and what they mean moving forward, as the matter almost certainly will head to the U.S. Supreme Court. For now, the ruling is the law of the land "only" in the seven states that comprise the 8th Circuit (Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota). That could change, however, once the notoriously anti-VRA High Court gets a crack at this case.

Geidner decries the "out-of-control" appeals courts which seem to no longer believe it is necessary to follow long-standing precedent, if it regards laws that they don't like. "And then things go up to the Supreme Court," he charges, "and it's almost a win-win for the conservatives on the Supreme Court because if they reverse one or two of every three ridiculous decisions, they are able to set themselves up as a 'moderating' force that pulls back the extremes, while they are still letting one of every three extreme rulings go through."

"One of the underlying bases for a legal system is stability," Geidner tells me today. "When you have a legal system that is in such upheaval that lower courts have been told from the Supreme Court that 'No precedent is too sacred. We will overturn any precedent if we decide it should be overturned,'" that leads appellate courts to think that "if there's a chance that their opinion can lead to a revisiting of a precedent that they think is wrong, why wouldn't they go for it?"

"The answer," he notes, "is the rule of law, and they shouldn't. That's up to the Supreme Court, and until the Supreme Court does it, they need to follow precedent. But that's not the world in which we are living."

We also get some thoughts today from Geidner on the curious, now nearly month-long delay by a three-judge panel on the U.S. District Court of Appeals in D.C. to issue their ruling in response to Donald Trump's ridiculous claim that he is immune from criminal prosecution for any actions he performed while serving as President. A ruling was expected by many to have been issued by now. The case was heard on an emergency basis, as Trump's scheduled March 4 federal trial for attempting to steal the 2020 election is currently on pause in the bargain. But, Geidner notes that "the fact that we are quickly approaching a month" since the case was heard by what appeared to be three skeptical jurists, it is now beginning to look like "a dereliction of duty" and "a failure on the D.C. Circuit's part."

Stay tuned...

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Also: Haley notches small victory in Dixville, NH; 2020 mistallies in VA benefited Trump; Deadly, climate-fueled storms slam nation...
By Brad Friedman on 1/23/2024 4:12pm PT  

As noted on today's BradCast, CBS News' legendary radio and TV broadcaster Charles Osgood has passed away at age 91. Other than that, we've got some arguably much brighter news throughout the bulk of today's program. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Among the many stories covered today...

  • Last night, just after midnight, Nikki Haley won every single vote cast in Dixville Notch, New Hampshire, the first town in the state to vote in the state's first-in-the-nation Primary on Tuesday. They had a 100% turnout. Haley won all 6 votes. Donald Trump won 0. We discuss why that matters (and doesn't). Voters across the entire state are voting today on hand-marked paper ballots. In Dixville Notch --- and about 40% of towns in the state --- ballots are publicly hand-counted by human beings after polls close. The rest of the towns, the larger ones in general, are tallied by 15 or 20-year old computerized optical scanners. Though, due to a write-in campaign for Joe Biden in the state, where there is no officially sanctioned Democratic primary, most of those towns will be hand-counting a lot of ballots as well. We'll have full reported results out of NH --- and why they matter (or don't) --- on tomorrow's show, of course.
  • For years, Republicans have been citing evidence of miscounted votes in Prince William County, Virginia as evidence of massive fraud in the 2020 Presidential race. The state's Republican A.G., after taking office in 2022, even filed criminal charges against the County's Registrar. Recently, however, the charges were unceremoniously dropped. And now we learn that, due to largely understandable tabulation errors, Joe Biden should have received 1,648 more votes than he was credited for, and that Donald Trump was given 2,327 votes that he shouldn't have, in a county that Biden won by more than 60,000 votes --- in a state where the Democrat won the Presidential race by some 450,000 votes. Races for U.S. Senate and U.S. House were also affected by the counting errors, though none of errors would reportedly have changed the results of any contest. We explain the whole mess.
  • We've got quite a bit of good news for you today when it comes to redistricting and rolling back GOP racial and partisan gerrymanders! In North Dakota, a federal judge has ordered new state legislative map after Republicans, following the 2020 Census, cracked two Native American reservations into different districts in order to flip both state House and Senate seats from D to R. It worked in 2022. But now, the judge has ordered not only new maps, but also new elections this fall in the districts found to have been in violation of the Voting Rights Act.
  • Louisiana's new Republican Governor approved a new U.S. House map for the state this week, after the GOP state legislature finally adopted it last week, following a federal court order to draw an additional majority-Black voting district in the state. The Republican-controlled legislature previously had just 1 such district out of its 6 Congressional seats, despite African-Americans accounting for nearly a third of the statewide population. GOP lawmakers only agreed to do so after many appeals, and after realizing that if they didn't draw up their own maps, the court would do it for them. The new map will likely result in an additional Democratic member of Congress from the Bayou State next year.
  • And, in Wisconsin last week, voters filed a motion with the state's newly liberal-leaning Supreme Court seeking a new U.S. House map in time for the 2024 elections. Last month, the state's high court agreed with petitioners that the state GOP's state legislative maps for the Assembly and Senate, in place for more than a decade, were unlawful gerrymanders in violation of state Constitutional requirements. The new motion filed last week asks the same Supreme Court to order a new U.S. House map as well, on the same basis that the Justices determined the state legislative districts were unconstitutional. Petitioners argue that the unconstitutional and politically gerrymandered map resulted in Republicans winning 75% of the state’s Congressional seats despite winning just 50% of the statewide vote in the 2022 election. That year, the closely divided, if Dem-leaning Presidential battleground state also re-elected its Democratic Governor in the same statewide election.
  • Finally today, San Diego was deluged on Monday with a year's worth of rain in a matter of three hours, overwhelming infrastructure in the usually mild Southern California city. But, as discussed in our latest Green News Report today with Desi Doyen, it was just one of dozens of cities across the U.S. in recent weeks where infrastructure has been hammered by climate change-fueled extreme Winter weather. Nearly 100 have been killed in the recent storms in a number of states as of airtime. That, as Big Oil gears up a multi-million ad blitz to hoax Americans into supporting fossil fuel friendly candidates in 2024, as the unstoppable transition to clean, renewable energy is finally underway...

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Next election may end GOP entrenchment in WI Assembly, though GOP entrenchment in Senate unlikely to be fully eradicated before 2026...
UPDATE 1/15/24: Court denies GOP motion to reconsider. UPDATE 2/19/29: Gov. Evers approves new map, likely ending litigation...
By Ernest A. Canning on 12/27/2023 11:09am PT  

2024 begins with long-overdue good news for the voters of Wisconsin.

Three days before Christmas, by way of a 4-3 decision, the Wisconsin Supreme Court overturned the most recent of two GOP drawn state legislative maps. The two maps were the product of partisan gerrymandering that was so extreme that it permitted the Republican Party to maintain supermajority (2/3) or near supermajority control of both chambers of the Badger State Legislature over the past 12 years --- even when Democrats received as much as 53% of the statewide vote.

The detailed procedures for drawing up new maps in time for the state's 2024 primary elections are set forth in the Court's Post Decision Order, maximizing, at long last, the prospect of a state Legislature whose members will be politically accountable to the will of a majority of the Wisconsin electorate.

If timely developed and approved, the new 2024 maps will permit a majority of WI voters to put an end to a decade-long GOP gerrymandered entrenchment in the state Assembly, though a majority of voters will not be empowered to fully eradicate GOP entrenchment in the WI Senate until 2026. Because it would have been tantamount to overturning the results of the 2022 election, the Court denied the petitioners' request that it compel those Senators, whose terms would not otherwise expire until 2027, to run for reelection in 2024...

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Some good (and not so good) legal news at year's end, and some hope for what next year's elections could bring in our final show of the year...
By Brad Friedman on 12/19/2023 7:12pm PT  

Tonight's breaking news about the disgraced former President and insurrectionist being barred from the 2024 ballot in Colorado under the U.S. Constitution's "Insurrectionist Disqualification Clause" came just minutes before we were finishing up today's BradCast --- our last one of the year! But I suspect we'll have plenty to discuss when we return in 2024. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Among the stories we did have time to cover in full on today's program...

  • We open with a homerun public comment from a young man at a meeting of the Sarasota County, Florida School Board last week, calling for the resignation of Board Member and co-founder of Moms for Liberty, Bridget Ziegler. That, following the rape allegations against her husband, Christian Ziegler, Chair of the Florida Republican Party, by a woman who says she was involved in a threesome relationship with Christian and Bridget, a supposed "conservative" who rocketed to rightwing national fame as her Moms for Liberty group worked with FL Gov. Ron DeSantis to adopt the state's "Don't Say Gay Law" and to ban books from schools on LGBTQ-related issues. That, even as Bridget was allegedly involved in a sexual affair with another woman. But the guy's comment at the Sarasota School Board --- from which Bridget is still refusing to resign --- was killer.
  • Good news at the end of the year for voting rights out of --- of all places --- the very far-right 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in two different opinions issued on Friday, in fact. In one, the full court allowed a lower court ruling to stand mandating a new U.S. House map for Louisiana before 2024, after finding that the current map was an unlawful racial gerrymander by state Republicans under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. The other decision by the 5th Circuit allows a Texas voter suppression law --- which bans online voter registration, in a state with the lowest voter turnout in 2020 --- to stand. That's not good. But both decisions re-affirmed that voters and private organizations do have a legal right to sue to block racist voter suppression laws under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. Those affirmations come after the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled just last month, for the first time since the creation of the Voting Rights Act in 1965, that only the U.S. Attorney General can sue to enforce Section 2 of the VRA. If allowed to stand at SCOTUS, the 8th Circuit's ruling would be an extraordinary blow to the landmark Act. So the 5th Circuit's rejection of those arguments, filed in both cases by Republicans, is a very encouraging sign.
  • On Monday, Texas' authoritarian Governor Greg Abbott signed a new state law allowing state police to arrest --- and local judges to deport --- anyone suspected of being an undocumented immigrant. On Tuesday, civil rights groups sued to block the almost certainly unconstitutional new law. At least it used to be unconstitutional, back when SCOTUS overturned a similar "Papers, please!" law out of Arizona in 2012. But that was before there was a packed, stolen and corrupted 6 to 3 Republican majority on the High Court.
  • Very bad news for both Donald Trump and Mark Meadows out of the also very conservative 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday, as a three-judge panel rejected Meadows' attempt to remove his Georgia state criminal indictment related to 2020 election interference from state to federal court. As Law Professor Lee Kovarksy of the University of Texas explained last night, the ruling, written by the court's Chief Judge and very close Clarence Thomas ally, is very bad news for appeals of the "immunity" defenses filed by both Trump and Meadows in several different cases where they are attempting to use that legal gambit to skirt accountability.
  • We received a lot of email following yesterday's lively call-in show, in which I asked folks who'd voted for Joe Biden in 2020, but who were planning on not doing so again in 2024, to call in and tell me why. Today we share a few of those notes in response.
  • But, for something for nervous pro-democracy Americans to consider over the holidays until we return after the new year, we share a recent column from University of Illinois' Political Science Professor Nicholas Grossman, explaining why folks should not (yet) be freaked out about polls showing Trump defeating Biden next year, and why "pro-democracy Americans [should] approach the 2024 election with enthusiasm, not only dread."
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our final Green News Report of the year! She includes a boatload of details on why, though we may be done with 2023, 2023 ain't yet done with us yet! But she also has some encouraging news on how long-overdue actions to tackle our climate crisis by the Biden Administration are finally beginning to take root as we move into the new year...

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Guest: Legal journalist Mark Joseph Stern; Also: Dow tops record high; Chutkan pauses Trump case; Hunter Biden pushes back at U.S. Capitol; House GOP votes to open revenge Impeachment inquiry...
By Brad Friedman on 12/13/2023 6:32pm PT  

We couldn't keep up with everything as it kept breaking all day and throughout today's BradCast. But we tried. Even while welcoming back one of our favorite guests. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

We're happy to joined once again today by Slate's top shelf legal journalist, the great MARK JOSEPH STERN, who is now back from his recent parental leave. (That, thanks, in no small part, to an excellent contract by his union, the Writers Guild of America!) And, while we had previously planned to talk with Mark today about far-right Trump appointees to the lower federal courts undermining voting rights and even the Supreme Court itself, the news just kept coming today out of SCOTUS. Thankfully, Stern was here to hold our hand through it all.

After indicating earlier this week they were prepared to move quickly in response to Special Counsel Jack Smith's request for an expedited hearing on Donald Trump's ridiculous appeal regarding Presidential Immunity, the Supremes announced on Wednesday they would be taking up a challenge to the federal law used to charge hundreds of January 6 insurrectionists, including Trump himself. Two of the four charges he is facing in his federal election interference case are related to unlawful obstruction of an official proceeding. But a lower federal court Trump judge, Carl Nichols, has decided those obstruction charges --- adopted by Congress as part of the 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley Act, focused mostly on white-collar crime --- are inappropriate for use against J6 rioters.

What will that mean for the pending charges against Trump and his trial currently scheduled for March 4 next year? Stern describes it today as "a troubling development", if only because "there wasn't a significant dispute over the interpretation of this particular statute" which has been used to convict hundreds of J6 attackers. While he explains that it is not necessarily fatal to either Smith's indictment against Trump in D.C. or the ability for U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan to complete the trial before next year's election, Stern regards it as "an ominous sign for those of us who wanted Chutkan to be able to move forward on her own timeline."

Nonetheless, it is, once again, another example of a lower court Trump judge "try[ing] to wield their power in aggressive and truly unprecedented ways." That similar effort to go "beyond the judicial power to essentially act as a free-floating veto over any Democratic policy, and trying to smuggle in Republican policies under the guise of judicial review," as Stern characterizes it, was similarly on view today as the High Court also announced plans to hear a challenge to the use of the widely prescribed abortion drug Mifipristone. That, after abortion opponents filed their case specifically so that it would be taken up earlier this year by Trump-appointed anti-choice activist Matthew Kacsmaryk, the only U.S. District Court Judge in the Northern District of Texas.

But where the "dead hand of the Trump Administration," as a recent article by Stern describes it, may be most troubling is in a series of recent rulings by Trump judges focused on undermining the Voting Rights Act, which is facing a tenuous moment at the stolen, packed and corrupted GOP-majority Supreme Court. Stern details three different recent cases --- one of them "almost too painfully stupid to explain" --- where jurists appointed by Trump in the lower courts are targeting and/or undermining the landmark civil rights law, even in violation of both long-standing SCOTUS precedent and very recent opinions by the High Court.

But, the news just kept on breaking today. Chutkan declared that Trump's Jan. 6 case would have to largely be "paused" until Trump's ridiculous immunity appeal is resolved, further imperiling next year's scheduled March 4 trial date.

The Dow hit a record high on Wall Street, as investors became jubilant at news from the Federal Reserve that it is likely to finally begin lowering interest rates next year --- even more aggressively than previously expected.

The 200 nations meeting in Dubai for the U.N.'s COP28 finally came to an agreement on their final statement after this year's climate conference. They deigned to mention the phrase "fossil fuels" for the first time ever. But more on that (hopefully!) tomorrow.

And the GOP-controlled U.S. House of Representatives, in a strict party-line vote, adopted a resolution to officially open an impeachment inquiry against President Joe Biden for...well...something or other. It remains unclear.

In truth, it's a revenge impeachment inquiry meant to placate the disgraced, twice-impeached former President, and to distract from the many failures of a corrupted, dysfunctional GOP-run House in advance of next year's elections. The vote was held on the same day that Republicans again refused to accept Hunter Biden's offer to testify in a public hearing. He had a few words about that for assembled media on the U.S. Capitol steps earlier today...

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Guest: ACLU voting rights attorney Jonathan Topaz; Also: Israel-Hamas truce extended for two more days amid more hostage releases...
By Brad Friedman on 11/27/2023 6:05pm PT  

We're back live on today's BradCast after a much-needed holiday break. Thanks to those of you who helped us avoid disaster last week! Now the question is whether we'll be able to avoid disaster in next year's Presidential election where we will have "as stark a choice as the United States has ever faced."

A lot happened while we were off (as usual), but none as critical, as far as I'm concerned, as the mind-blowing ruling issued last week by a three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal, upholding an insane lower U.S. District Court Judge's ruling in an Arkansas voting rights case.

The lawsuit, filed by the NAACP, challenges Arkansas' gerrymandered legislative maps which should --- if the rule of law and Constitution mean anything anymore --- include another five Black-majority voting districts before the 2024 elections.

However, last year, a Trump-appointed District Court Judge, while recognizing the merits of the case, found for the first time in U.S. history that individual voters and private organizations like the NAACP and ACLU have no "right to private action" to sue against violations of Section 2 of the landmark Voting Rights Act. The lower court judge found that only the U.S. Attorney General may sue to block racially discriminatory laws under Section 2. And, last week, incredibly enough, that ruling was upheld by the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals panel featuring two Trump judges and one George W. Bush appointed judge.

We're joined today by JONATHAN TOPAZ, Staff Attorney at the ACLU's Voting Rights Project, who worked on the case at both the district and appellate court level. He explains that the District Court ruling "was the first court in the history of the United States to determine that Section 2 lacked a private right of action, which means that private plaintiffs are unable to vindicate their rights under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. This, at the time, and is today, is an incredibly radical ruling. We appealed, because it had no basis in the text and structure of the Voting Rights Act, it had no basis in the precedent, and it certainly had no basis in the practice of decades and decades of private plaintiffs bringing suits to vindicate the incredibly important right to vote free of racial discrimination under the Voting Rights Act."

But, as Topaz goes on to explain, it got worse. Last week "a divided panel of the 8th Circuit voted to affirm the District Court's finding. So now these are the only two courts in the history of the United States that have ever made such a finding."

Indeed, the arguably even more "conservative" 5th Circuit Court of Appeal, recently found the opposite, that private plaintiffs do have the right to sue. So, the 8th Circuit Court is an outlier, with what Topaz describes as "a radical opinion on appeal to the voters of Arkansas and voters around the country."

What happens next? What will it mean if it is upheld by SCOTUS? What are the chances of that actually happening? How can it be that neither SCOTUS nor Congress nor dozens and dozens of courts have previously noticed this flaw in the VRA over the past six decades? And, if SCOTUS does find in favor of the 8th Circuit, what will that mean for the hundreds of Section 2 cases previously decided in favor of private plaintiffs? Tune in for answers to all of those questions and many more.

Also today, a bit of what suffices for "good news" out of the Middle East on Monday, as Israel and Hamas agreed to extend their four-day pause in hostilities for another two days to allow for the release of more hostages from Gaza and more Palestinian prisoners from Israeli prisons.

That largely encouraging news, however, is somewhat tempered by events back here in the U.S. over the weekend, where three Palestinian students were shot at close range in otherwise peaceful Burlington, Vermont. The three young men, all 20 years old, were heading to dinner at one of the men's grandmother's house. A suspect was arrested on Sunday. We discuss.

Then, we open things up to listeners via phone and email in our closing few minutes...

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Grim news in Maine, Acapulco and the U.S. House, followed by much better news in Colorado, Georgia, and for union workers of the UAW...
By Brad Friedman on 10/26/2023 6:54pm PT  

I promise, things get brighter after the first segment of today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

Among our stories, first grim, and then much less so, today...

  • We begin with the horrible news out of Lewiston, Maine, following Wednesday night's mass shootings that have, so far, resulted in 18 dead and another 13 wounded, with several still in critical condition. The state was largely shut down as of airtime, with a broad, statewide manhunt underway for the suspect who is alleged to have had serious mental health issues...but was still able to obtain a deadly, high-powered, military-style assault rifle for his rampage somehow, because...freedom!
  • Similarly grim news out of Acapulco, where a climate change-fueled Hurricane Otis experienced explosive intensification off the Pacific Coast this week, as it spun up from Tropical Storm to a catastrophic Category 5 in just twelve hours time. As of airtime, 27 were confirmed dead in Mexico, with searches underway for more missing as authorities struggle to clear major roads of knee-deep mud and restore power to the battered resort city and nearby villages.
  • All of that, amid what is likely to be the hottest year ever recorded, as Republicans in the U.S. House just elected a long-time climate science denier from the oil and gas state of Louisiana to be House Speaker. Rep. Mike Johnson received more money last year from the fossil fuel industry than any other. Since 2018, the far-right religious zealot has received some $240,000 from the industry. Some of it, as it turns out, came --- unlawfully --- from Russian oligarchs, according to FEC investigators last year.
  • IN BRIGHTER NEWS...A federal judge in Georgia has ordered the state's legislature to reconvene to redraw its Congressional and state legislative maps before 2024, after being found in violation of the Voting Rights Act. The state must now add new Black-majority voting districts to all three of its maps. The judge's 516-page(!) ruling [PDF] issued today, finds the Republican-controlled legislature drew new maps following the 2020 Census which completely ignored the fact that ALL of the state's population growth since 2010 has been among the non-white population. U.S. District Judge Steven Jones has ordered one new Black-majority Congressional district, two new districts in the state Senate, and five for the state House by December 8, or he would have the maps drawn himself.
  • More good news for U.S. Constitution lovers, this time in Colorado, where a state judge ruled on Wednesday that Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, the "Insurrectionist Disqualification Clause", is self-executing. In other words, public officials who have "engaged in insurrection" are simply disqualified from running for public office, even without a federal law detailing precise enforcement of the provision. Donald Trump, whose qualifications for the 2024 Presidential ballot have been challenged in a state lawsuit, argued to the contrary. But he lost. Next week, a hearing will be held to determine if the former President "engaged in insurrection", as per the Constitutional Amendment. Similar challenges to Trump's eligibility for office are also pending in Michigan and Minnesota.
  • And good news for striking autoworkers, as the United Auto Workers union announced on Wednesday night that they reached a tentative agreement with Ford. The new four-year contract, if approved by workers, will boost base pay by at least 25%, increase starting hourly wages to $28/hour and includes a myriad of other benefits sought by the labor union. It is hoped that the agreement will also pressure management for a similar contract at the other two "Big Three" automakers, G.M. and Stellantis, where the UAW also began its walk-outs about six weeks ago. Chalk up yet another in a series of very big wins for organized labor over the past year!
  • Finally, both good news and bad, as usual, with Desi Doyen in our latest Green News Report. She has more on Hurricane Otis; more on our new climate denying U.S. House Speaker; More on Big Oil doubling down before the bottom falls out for the industry; and an encouraging projection from a normally very conservative international body for the beginning of the end of fossil fuels...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Media woefully misleads on Biden and the border wall; AL to finally add second Black-majority House district; September heat 'gobsmackingly bananas'; Prez warns democracy in peril in perfectly normal interview...
By Brad Friedman on 10/5/2023 6:40pm PT  

Good news, bad news, news about shamefully misreported news, and something that's as close to "normal" news as we are able to find these days. All on today's BradCast! [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

THE GOOD NEWS: After two years and countless shameful losses in federal courts --- including twice at the U.S. Supreme Court --- Republican Alabama lawmakers are finally forced to follow the Constitution and Rule of Law by adding a second U.S. House District where Black voters may be able to elect a representative of their own choosing for the first time in state history. (Similar fights continue, however, in other states, such as South Carolina, Texas, Florida...)

THE BAD NEWS: September heat records around the globe were literally off-the-charts. Or, as climate scientist Zeke Hausfather recently described it, "absolutely gobsmackingly bananas". Is last month's alarming spike, completely blowing away some 80 years of temperature anomalies, temporary or here to stay? We discuss.

THE SHAMEFULLY MISREPORTED NEWS: Yes, the Biden Administration will be building some 17 miles of new border wall in the Texas Rio Grande Valley. No, it's not because Biden has "hypocritically reversed" his position on physical barriers or now agrees with Donald Trump (as Fox "News", Trump and too many actual news outlets have also been misleading reporting today). Rather, it is because the Administration is required to do so under the 2019 appropriations bill passed by Congress during the Trump Administration. Yes, the Biden Administration believes they must follow the Rule of Law, whether they agree with it or not. Crazy. The number of media outlets rewriting their originally misleading stories today would be hilarious, had the initial versions of those stories not been so woefully irresponsible.

SOMETHING CLOSE TO 'NORMAL' NEWS: We'll call it "The Old Normal". A U.S. President who is running for re-election next year sits down for a one-on-one interview with an actual journalists and answers many questions. No threats are issued. Nobody is attacked. In fact, no huge news is broken. But the electorate becomes better informed so they can hopefully cast an educated vote next year. We share the bulk of that interview because few others will bother to do so. And, yes, the perfectly reasonable conversation touches on our ongoing threats to democracy in America and around the world, and what can be done about the menace of looming political violence by rightwing MAGA extremists and their authoritarian cult leader. Seems important.

OUR LATEST GREEN NEWS REPORT: Desi Doyen has more today on the September heat records freaking out climate scientists; Antarctica's missing sea ice; a very weird turn against climate policies by Britain's Prime Minister; and the refusal by Big Oil and Gas to spend even an infinitesimal amount of their massive profits to permanently stop deadly, climate warming methane leaks...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Election officials grapple with Trump's Constitutional ballot disqualification; Also: Proud Boy boss gets 22 years for 1/6; Courts order lawless AL, FL to restore Black-majority U.S. House Districts...
By Brad Friedman on 9/5/2023 6:24pm PT  

We're back! Both on today's BradCast and even in L.A., after fleeing the state last month to avoid weeks of construction on the roof of the apartment housing our home studio. To no one's surprise, the work is taking longer than we were told, so please pardon our efforts this week to work around it as best as possible after taking last week off to both avoid it and to enjoy the last days of Summer 2023 before the 2024 fight for Democracy (represented this year by Democrats) and Autocracy (represented by a lawless Republican party) begins in earnest.

Among our stories today...

  • Enrique Tarrio, former head of the far-right Proud Boys gang was sentenced to 22 year in federal prison on Tuesday following his conviction for Seditious Conspiracy for his role in the January 6th, 2021 U.S. Capitol insurrection. It's the longest sentence for any of the MAGA insurrectionists to date. Also, of note, Tarrio wasn't even in Washington D.C. that day. Point taken: One didn't need to be personally smashing windows and storming the Capitol to be held to serious account for what happened that day. Got it. Hopefully other jurors in other upcoming related cases will get it as well.
  • The federal Courts are still holding. Mostly. For now. On Tuesday, a three-judge panel found that Alabama Republicans blatantly defied an order from the U.S. Supreme Court to add another Black-majority district to their U.S. House map. The SCOTUS order to do so --- after finding the state violated both the U.S. Constitution and Voting Rights Act with their racially gerrymandered districts --- came in Allen v. Milligan [PDF] in early June. Alabama didn't care. In an unprecedented move, they gave the finger to the Court and drew up a new map with the very same deficiencies featuring just one Black-majority district out of seven, in a state where some 27% of residents are Black. The federal court panel has now assigned a Special Master to draw U.S. House districts for the state, after a lawless Gov. Kay Ivey joined with lawless legislators in the gerrymandered statehouse to defy SCOTUS, the Rule of Law and the U.S. Constitution. Alabama is now appealing the ruling to the same U.S. Supreme Court Justices who rejected their arguments barely three months ago.
  • The story is similar in authoritarian Governor and Presidential candidate Ron DeSantis' lawless state of Florida this weekend. In this case, a state court judge on Saturday ordered the state legislature to draw a new U.S. House map restoring a Black-majority district in Northern Florida that DeSantis had personally ordered state lawmakers to break into pieces and divvy up its Black voters into White Republican districts. The weekend's court order would seem to be good news. However, the State will now appeal the ruling directly to its Supreme Court where DeSantis has hand-picked a majority of the Justices. As we have long been warning, the fight between Democracy and Autocracy (or Fascism, as one of our longtime listeners insists), continues into 2024.
  • Next, I finally catch up with a bunch of news on a growing story --- some of which we've been discussing over the past two years --- that I've otherwise been trying to get to for weeks, but for all of the various indictments, hurricanes, wildfires, debates, etc. continually sidetracking me. The news has to do with the continuing feeling I have that Donald Trump will ultimately not be on the ballot come next November. As noted, that's not a prediction or an inside scoop. It's simply a feeling for now, but one that I can't shake as an increasingly swelling body of evidence seems to support its possibility.

    Today, that evidence includes polling last month finding nearly two-thirds of Americans say they will either "definitely" (53%) or "probably" (11%) not support Trump in 2024. Might such numbers begin to grab the notice of Republican Primary voters? (So far, the answer is largely no. But we've got a long way to go --- and a lot of criminal trials --- before the GOP's nominating convention next July.) There are already a number of high profile Republicans calling on Trump to drop out of the race or noting that he very well may be Constitutionally disqualified entirely from the ballot.

    It is that part of this story today --- disqualification from the ballot via Section 3 of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution for his role in the January 6 Insurrection --- that we focus on today. Namely, the far-right, Federalist Society legal scholars who recently issued a 126-page law review paper [PDF] finding Trump to be Constitutionally ineligible for the ballot --- "cannot be president --- cannot run for president, cannot become president, cannot hold office" --- due to his roll in the January 6 insurrection.

    And now, there is a host of state Secretaries of State --- both Republican and Democratic --- around the country who are currently or soon to be grappling with the decision as to whether Trump is even eligible to be on their state ballots in 2024.

    Among those Secretary of State's discussed today, after they recently offered various opinions on the matter: New Hampshire's David Scanlan (R); Ohio's Frank LaRose (R); Arizona's Adrian Fontes (D), New Mexico's Maggie Toulouse Oliver (D); Maine's Shenna Bellows (D) and Michigan's Jocelyn Benson (D). (Benson gets credit for the first part of today's headline. REO Speedwagon gets credit for the alternate hed.)

    I welcome your feelings on this matter as well. Feel free to drop me an email or a note in comments and perhaps I'll share it on air in the days ahead.

  • Finally, Desi Doyen is back as well, of course, with our latest Green News Report, catching up with a bunch of stuff we missed while we were out, and as the Summer of Climate Disasters turns to...well, most likely the Autumn of Climate Disasters...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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