Before our guest joins us on today's BradCast --- and in advance of the Democrats' first two-night 2020 Presidential Candidate Debate in Miami (which we'll be covering over the next two BradCasts), some very quick news headlines today. [Audio link to complete show is posted below]
- House Democrats have called Donald Trump's and Republicans' bluff by passing a $4.5 billion supplemental spending bill to cover border-related costs for children and other migrants being held in squalid, overcrowded conditions, with children not even being given soap or toothbrushes and forced to sleep on cold cement floors. The House bill also places some restrictions on how that funding can be spent, unlike the Senate version of a similar emergency supplemental spending measure for $4.6 billion. Some on Team Trump have called for vetoing the House version. The conflicting bills will somehow need to be reconciled before final passage, though it's unclear how that can happen before lawmakers leave town for their week-long July 4th recess;
- On Tuesday night, the Chairs of the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees announced that former Special Counsel Robert Mueller has agreed to appear --- after being subpoenaed --- for testimony in open sessions to both House panels, one after the other, on July 17th. He is expected to give answers to lawmakers about his two-year probe of alleged Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election, the Trump Campaign's cooperation with that effort, and Donald Trump's repeated, unlawful (and impeachable) attempts to obstruct the Special Counsel's federal investigation;
- Speaking of House testimony, the Oversight Committee voted on Wednesday to subpoena Trump's senior adviser Kellyanne Conway for testimony following a recent finding from the Trump-appointed head of an independent federal watchdog agency recommending Conway be fired for multiple violations of the federal Hatch Act. That Federal law bars public officials from using their office for partisan campaign purposes. Conway failed to show up voluntarily on Wednesday, so will now face a subpoena forcing her to do so --- at least in theory. Trump has refused to fire Conway, despite her repeated violations of the law, and his White House has, so far, taken extraordinary (and likely unlawful) measures to block Congressional testimony by White House officials;
- Oh, and it was announced today that NRATV is finally shutting down amid internecine fighting, scandal and criminal probes of the terrorist-supporting NRA, which appears to have really shot itself in the foot. We send them our thoughts and prayers at this difficult time;
Then, we're joined once again today by the great MARK JOSEPH STERN, Slate's ace legal reporter and, as the end of SCOTUS' term wraps up before summer, our ever-insightful Supreme Court correspondent! There were a bevy of opinions issued by the Court over the past week, even as most received little fanfare or attention by the media. Trump's war-mongering with Iran and worsening child detention problems on the border are just some of the reasons for that. But also, the biggest expected rulings --- on whether a citizenship question may be added to the 2020 Census, despite Trump Administrations lies about it, and on whether states may employ partisan gerrymandering for electoral advantage --- are still to come at any moment now. In the meantime, while the many opinions issued over the past week, in and of themselves, may not have been marquee rulings, many, as Stern explains, have serious consequences.
More importantly, however, as we discuss today, the new rulings offer some pretty HUGE SCREAMING RED SIRENS about the direction that the Republicans' stolen U.S. Supreme Court now intends to go, with their far-right majority now firmly ensconced. A number of opinions in several of the cases offered some pretty clear projections that this Court intends to overturn decades, if not centuries, of legal court precedent, case law, and even thousands of federal laws in the bargain.
Among the many decisions we discuss in some detail today:
- A contorted ruling that allows a 94-year old religious monument to fallen WWI soldiers to remain on government property despite being a clear violation of the Constitution's Establishment Clause separating Church and State;
- The case of an African American man whose death sentence was, thankfully, overturned after a state prosecutor in Mississippi repeatedly excluded African American jurors from sitting on the six different trials the man has, so far, faced for a case of multiple murders that it seems quite likely he had nothing at all to do with;
- An opinion that overturns decades and perhaps centuries of property rights case law;
- Another that comes within a hair's breadth of striking down hundreds, if not thousands of federal laws passed by Congress over our nation's history;
- And a decision that overturns decades of trademark law which the court found to be FUCT. (We explain on the show, while avoiding any potential FCC language violations in the bargain! You're welcome!)
In all, we cover quite a bit of ground today, with some important details --- far more than I can cover here --- that you should definitely tune in for, if only so that you can't later say nobody warned you!
"This is the term when the Justices pretty much rip up stare decisis," explains Stern, citing the legal term for the custom of respecting court precedent, "or at least get out their lighters and lay the kindling. In a number of cases the conservative Justices have just decided that they've had enough with precedent, they're ready to make the Constitution say what they want it to say. Doesn't matter what previous courts have ruled."
Stern warns: "For the most part, the Justices have been swinging for the rafters. They do not feel hemmed in by many limitations. You're seeing unbridled exercise of judicial power --- the kind of thing that [Chief Justice] Roberts said during his confirmation hearings he would never resort to."
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