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Latest Featured Reports | Friday, July 12, 2024
Meanwhile... :
'BradCast' 7/11/24
Biden's tenuous candidacy; Trump and Orban; Inflation, prices falling; Climate liar Inhofe dies; California's stunning solar revolution...
'Green News Report' 7/11/24
  w/ Brad & Desi
Flooding, power outages, sweltering heat as deadly Beryl fallout continues; New FEMA flood risk standards; PLUS: House Republicans bravely seek Freedom for Refrigerators!...
Previous GNRs: 7/9/24 - 6/25/24 - Archives...
Paging 'Johnny Unbeatable'! Dems in Disarray! (But Really This Time): 'BradCast' 7/10/24
Guests: Heather Digby Parton of Salon, 'Driftglass' of 'Pro Left Podcast'...
SCOTUS Immunity Ruling 'As Bad as it Sounds', Arguably Worse: 'BradCast' 7/9/24
Guest: LawDork's Chris Geidner on that and the Court's massive 'power grab'; Also: Record-breaking Beryl; U.S. heat records smashed...
'Green News Report' 7/9/24
  w/ Brad & Desi
Beryl breaks records, slams TX; 140 million Americans under heat advisories; Big SCOTUS gifts for polluters; PLUS: Biden unveils first-ever extreme heat protections for workers...
Previous GNRs: 6/25/24 - 6/27/24 - Archives...
So, What Now?:
'BradCast' 7/8/24
We're back! And our listeners have strong opinions about where the hell we are and how to move forward to save democracy after corrupt SCOTUS rulings and a disastrous Presidential Debate...
Overdue Debunking of MAGA Cult Xenophobia
CANNING: Throughout U.S. history, decent, hard-working immigrants (like me) have contributed to the economy and our nation's security: CANNING
Sunday 'Courting Disaster' Toons
THIS WEEK: Kings and Things! In our special SCOTUS-sized edition of the last impossible week's best political toons!...
Sunday 'Bad Medicine' Toons
THIS WEEK: Trump's hot pants ... Biden's cool reception ... SCOTUS gone wild ... and more in our latest collection of the week's best toons...
A Friendly Suggestion:
Harris-Newsom 2024
An orderly transition to save the nation...if Biden himself agrees...
Former Fed Prosecutor: SCOTUS Corruption Ruling Less Corrupt Than Appears: 'BradCast' 6/27/24
Guest: Randall D. Eliason; Also: 'Chevron Deference'; SCOTUS nixes EPA pollution rule...
'Green News Report' 6/27/24
  w/ Brad & Desi
Disasterous flooding in China; Heatwave, crop failure in Inida; Fisaster upon disaster for NM town; On edge for SCOTUS decision; PLUS: Biden climate law creates 300,000 jobs!...
Previous GNRs: 6/25/24 - 6/20/24 - Archives...
Good News and Bad: At the Polls and From the Corrupted Court: 'BradCast' 6/26/24
NY, CO, UT, SC election results; SCOTUS on public corruption, social media; Long-overdue Biden pardons...
'Not Something Journalists Do': A NatSec Journo on Assange Hacking, Plea Deal: 'BradCast' 6/25/24
Guest: Marcy Wheeler of Emptywheel; Also: VA Rep. vows to block apparent primary loss...
'Green News Report' 6/25/24
Extreme U.S. heat, flooding; FEMA warns of funding shortfall; Climate change spiking home insurance; PLUS: Global warming turbocharging heat, wildfires...
Fox 'News' Grooming Viewers for Another Insurrection: 'BradCast' 6/24/24
Guest: Matt Gertz of Media Matters; Also: Climate change is now wreaking brutal, deadly, expensive consequences...
Sunday 'Shark Jumping' Toons
THIS WEEK: Unsavable ... Untouchable ... Undebatable ... Undeniable... And more unavoidable mischief in our latest collection of the week's best political toons...
The Prophecy and Warning of the White Buffalo: 'BradCast' 6/20/24
Our global air pollution and climate crisis and what we can do about it; Also: Biden now leads in Fox 'News' polling; Trump Media stock tanking again; CNN debate set...
'Green News Report' 6/20/24
Extreme U.S. heat intensifies; First named storm of year; Evacuations in NM; Astonishing heat in India, Saudi Arabia; PLUS: U.S. schools grapple with extreme heat...
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: LawDork's Chris Geidner on that and the Court's massive 'power grab'; Also: Record-breaking Beryl; Heat records smashed across nation...
By Brad Friedman on 7/9/2024 6:39pm PT  

We're still catching up from last week's earth-shaking news week on today's BradCast, from the Supreme Court to our ever-worsening climate crisis. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

With understandable concerns about Joe Biden's candidacy following his debate performance almost two weeks ago, followed quickly by the July 4th holiday, I'm not sure that Americans yet fully appreciate the way in which our corrupted, extremist, radical, not-conservative-in-the-least U.S. Supreme Court has now upended the American experiment with its horrific, unjustifiable, anti-textualist, anti-originalist 6 to 3 ruling [PDF] last week on the previously unimaginable concept of "Presidential Immunity".

In short, as Justice Sonia Sotomayor detailed in her scathing, 30-page dissent and point-by-point rebuttal and evisceration of the corrupt, activist majority's ridiculous invention of a heretofore unknown "Presidential Immunity Clause" somehow hidden in the U.S. Constitution, the "decision to grant former Presidents criminal immunity reshapes the institution of the Presidency. It makes a mockery of the principle, foundational to our Constitution and system of Government, that no man is above the law."

She describes, on behalf of her fellow liberal Justices, the majority's opinion as "just as bad as it sounds," describing it as "baseless" and "nonsensical", in which "Argument by argument, the majority invests immunity through brute force.” It is "deeply wrong", "illogical" and "unprecedented," she warns, adding that it will "have disastrous consequences for the Presidency and for our democracy".

Her dissent details how the Framers of the Constitution understood the concept of "immunity" quite well when adopting our founding document. They even gave a bit of it to the Legislative Branch, while denying same to the Executive, even as several state Constitutions had, by then, granted it to their own Governors. Nonetheless, "Relying on little more than its own misguided wisdom about the need for 'bold and unhesitating action' by the President, the Court gives former President Trump all the immunity he asked for and more."

In doing so, with this decision and a number of other radical, not-conservative-in-the-least opinions at term's end, the Roberts Court, according to today's guest, has also given itself unheard of power, placing the Judicial Branch above its otherwise Constitutionally co-equal Legislative and Executive Branches.

We're joined today by CHRIS GEIDNER, veteran legal journalist of LawDork to discuss that, and to help decipher whether this ruling is really "as bad as it sounds," as Sotomayor charges.

Is a U.S. President --- be it Donald Trump or anyone else --- at this point, actually now immune from criminal prosecution should he or she orders Seal Team 6 to assassinate a political rival? ("Allowed," says Geidner, according to "the plain text of the ruling.") How about if they order the assassination of Justices on the U.S. Supreme Court? ("It is hard for me to read in the ruling where that is not allowed.") How about if they sell Presidential Pardons for $1 million a pop? Would it really be "unconstitutional" now to bring criminal charges against a former President who asked his Secretary of Defense to "bring in the troops" to "shoot protesters...in the streets of our nation's capital," as Trump's former SecDef Mark Esper alleged that Trump actually did in 2020?

The answer, it turns out --- at least according to the ruling --- is pretty much, yup, he (or she) would now be immune from criminal prosecution for all of those supposedly "official acts". According to Geidner, however, those questions would ultimately need to be answered yet again by the Supreme Court. Depending on what the make-up of that Court looked like and, crucially, which party the President in question belonged to, their decisions might be very different on a case-by-case basis. It's good to be King. But it might be even better to be a Justice in the Supreme Court majority.

"Let's assume we get through this moment in time, relatively no more scathed than we already are," Geidner posits, before predicting, "this is a ruling that is going to fall in on itself over time."

"In the meantime," as Sotomayor notes, "The relationship between the President and the people he serves has shifted irrevocably. In every use of official power, the President is now a king above the law."

"Moving forward, all former Presidents will be cloaked in such immunity," she concludes. "If the occupant of that office misuses official power for personal gain, the criminal law that the rest of us must abide will not provide a backstop."

And finally, for those listeners who haven't yet jumped out of a window, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report after returning from our holiday break, with more deadly climate catastrophes and, yes, more horrific, history making opinions (Yay! More gifts for polluters!) from our fully corrupted, captured, activist and more powerful than ever rightwing SCOTUS majority...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Univ. of KY election law professor Joshua A. Douglas; Also: Bannon (mostly) ordered to prison; U.N. chief calls for a ban on fossil fuel ads, as planet reaches disturbing new climate warming milestone...
By Brad Friedman on 6/6/2024 6:16pm PT  

"The Supreme Court of the United States is anti-democracy and antivoter --- and has been for far longer than you might think." That sounds like something we might charge at The BRAD BLOG or on The BradCast. But, today, that allegation comes from our guest, an esteemed law professor in his brand new book. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

FIRST UP, however... A couple of news items of note today. Convicted felon Donald Trump's 2016 campaign manager and Senior White House Advisor Steve Bannon (also a longtime "anti-democracy and antivoter" activist) may finally be heading to jail as of July 1. That according to a ruling today by the Trump-appointed federal judge overseeing Bannon's two 2022 convictions for Contempt of Congress following his refusal to answer subpoenas from the bipartisan House January 6 Committee. He still has a couple of potential options for delay --- including his hope for a lifeline from the corrupt U.S. Supreme Court. But, otherwise, he is likely to soon be locked up for the next four months in the run-up to this year's election. Sad!

Also today, the EU's climate monitor announced this week that, as of May, the past 12 months have each been the hottest ever recorded on Planet Earth. That announcement came on the same day this week that the U.N. Secretary-General, António Guterres, offered a blistering speech deriding the fossil fuel industry as "the Godfathers of climate chaos" who "rake in record profits and feast off trillions in taxpayer-funded subsidies" after having set the planet on "the highway to climate hell". He is, of course, correct. But Guterres also called, for the first time, for a ban on all ads by fossil fuel companies, akin to the one against tobacco companies, given the billions that Big Oil has spent on decades of deadly lies "distorting the truth, deceiving the public and sowing doubt" about the harm they've caused. He also called for "news media and tech companies to stop taking fossil fuel advertising." Think they will? We discuss.

NEXT... We're joined by Constitutional election law professor JOSHUA A. DOUGLAS of the University of Kentucky's College of Law to discuss his brand new book, The Court v. The Voters: The Troubling Story of How the Supreme Court Has Undermined Voting Rights. That title almost speaks for itself. But, as you might imagine, it gives us a lot to discuss today.

In his book, Douglas highlights nine different landmark SCOTUS rulings --- some you almost certainly know of, but others that you may not --- going back about 50 years, which he says have "contributed to the rise of anti-democracy forces animating our elections" today, leading the nation on the path toward the attempted rightwing insurrection on January 6, 2021.

"Legitimacy requires buy-in from everyone," when it comes to election law, Douglas tells me today. "So the fact that I make this statement about the Supreme Court, as someone who has tried to be very non-partisan in my work, says a lot about how stark it has become with respect to the way in which the Court has crafted or thought about the Constitutional right to vote."

"It has been death by a thousand cuts," he explains. "A slow march. There's no one case or one concerted effort." But the result of the Court's persistent rulings has been to undermine voting rights and, ultimately, the Constitutional order by giving more and more power to the states, after years of previously requiring strict scrutiny when it comes to restrictive voting laws. Each new ruling, he says, has fed off previous ones, granting more and more power back to states to restrict voting rights, eroding federal protections in both law and the Constitution.

In some cases, Douglas argues, such as 2021's Brnovich v. DNC, the Court (in this case, Justice Samuel Alito writing the opinion for the majority) has taken to simply making up new tests for state election laws "literally from thin air" to support their antivoter rulings.

Ever since the decade following the Civil Rights era, "it's been a slow march towards dismantling some of the protections of the Voting Rights Act, as well as undermining the constitutional importance of the right to vote within the U.S. Constitution. When you look at any one case, you don't necessarily see it. It's when we look at these combined, to note the way in which the Court has placed a thumb on the scale of the [state] legislatures at the expense of voters."

The book is written not for legal scholars, Douglas promises, but for actual voters. Rather than offering simply legal analyses, it is chock full of stories about the individual people involved in each of the cases he highlights. Evidence to support his argument here may be found in the title of Chapter 8, "An 'Embarrassing Judicial Fart'", on 2000's Bush v. Gore ruling.

While The Courts v. The Voters argues "we can no longer count on the Supreme Court to protect an equal right to vote for all" and that "voters are left with nowhere to turn to vindicate their rights," Douglas also offers a prescription for overcoming what he regards as an assault on our Democratic Republic in both the book and on today's program.

FINALLY... Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with more on what the European Union's chief climate monitor describes as the "shocking but not surprising" record heat over each of the last 12 months; the U.N. Secretary-General's well-supported screed against the deadly "Godfathers of climate chaos" in the fossil fuel industry; a record number of heat deaths in the U.S. last year; and the world's largest solar farm --- the size of New York City --- now finally online...in China.

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Also: SCOTUS allows racial gerrymander in SC; OH still blocking Biden from ballot; Smartmatic says Newsmax destroyed evidence; Biden cancels still more student debt...
By Brad Friedman on 5/23/2024 6:46pm PT  

Today on The BradCast: Imagine if Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson was found to have been flying a Joe Biden "Dark Brandon" flag at her house. Ya think Republicans in Congress might have anything to say about it? Might take any action in response to it? [Audio link to full program follows this summary.]

Among the stories covered on today's program...

  • Republicans in the Ohio state legislature are still blocking Joe Biden from this year's Presidential election ballot in the Buckeye State. Even Republican Governor Mike DeWine is now calling it "ridiculous" and "absurd" and has called a special legislative session for next week to fix the problem that GOP lawmakers have so far refused to. Think they'll finally do it?
  • The corrupt rightwing majority on the packed and stolen U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday, allowed a racial gerrymander in South Carolina to remain in place for the 2024 election. All of the Court's liberal Justices dissented. The 6 to 3 majority opinion was written by Justice Samuel Alito, who appeared more concerned that state lawmakers might be seen as having engaged in "offensive and demeaning" conduct, than he did about the tens of thousands of Black voters in the state whose votes have been shifted to other districts to make it easier for Republican Rep. Nancy Mace to hold on to a seat in the U.S. House. It's not a racial gerrymander, the Court's Republican majority claims, it's a partisan one. And, apparently, that's just fine. (Justice Clarence Thomas went out of his way in a concurring opinion to note that racial gerrymanders are just fine as well.) All of that, after a lower court panel of federal judges found that SC's racial gerrymander amounted to the "bleaching of African American voters."
  • And, speaking of Sam Alito....Now the whole world knows, if they didn't already, that the corrupt, far-right Republican Supreme Court Justice is both a personal supporter of the Trump-incited 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and a Christian Nationalist. At least based on the two different flags he has been flying over two of his houses, according to more excellent reporting by the New York Times on Wednesday. That, as we await two different major rulings from the High Court regarding accountability for Donald Trump in relation to the insurrection. Neither Alito nor Thomas, whose wife directly participated in the insurrection, have recused themselves from either case. So, what are Democrats in the U.S. Senate going to do about any of it? So far, it doesn't look like they're prepared to do much, at least beyond issuing an occasional "outraged" press release. As discussed in some detail today, that needs to change.
  • One of voting system vendor Smartmatic's several, huge, defamation lawsuits for lies told about the company "rigging" the 2020 election, is against the far-right political propaganda outlet known as Newsmax. Court documents made public this week reveal that Newsmax destroyed evidence --- text messages and emails --- that they were required to retain for the lawsuit.
  • This week, Joe Biden cancelled student loan debt for another 160,000 borrowers, bringing the total number receiving some form of forgiveness up to nearly five million. His Dept. of Education has now approved about $167 billion in loan forgiveness under a number of different programs, following the corrupt SCOTUS ruling that prevented the President's initial effort to forgive up to $20,000 for some 43 million borrowers. Still, $167 billion is nothing to sneeze at. And it's money that can now go instead into the economy instead to purchase homes, cars, etc., which helps everyone. Fox "News", of course --- which had no problem when Trump gave trillions of federal dollars to millionaires, billionaires and wealthy corporations via GOP tax cuts --- seems to have a different opinion about federal government relief for those who actually need it.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as deadly, climate changed-fueled extreme weather lashes folks from Mexico to Iowa; Florida's Gov. Ron DeSantis signs a "Don't Say Climate Change" law as the state broils in yet another heat wave; Oakland, California becomes the nation's first school district to move to 100% all-electric school buses; And microplastics are now found everywhere, even inside of us. You'll have a ball finding out where scientists have discovered them most recently. It's nuts!...

And with that great news, The BradCast (and Green News Report) will be standing down next week for a much-needed break over the Memorial Day holiday week. Will the disgraced former President be a convicted felon by the time we return? We'll find out! Either way, see ya on the other side! (And, of course, well before then for a few Sunday Toons at the very least!)

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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So what do we do now? Callers ring in...
By Brad Friedman on 4/29/2024 5:47pm PT  

Today we had our first live BradCast out of KPFK's new (if temporary) broadcast facility, where everything is not yet quite in place. Nonetheless, I think we survived it in good order, including some good callers! [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

On our last show last week, with two top-notch federal law experts, we went to air just after the U.S. Supreme Court completed hearing the absurd Oral Argument on whether Presidents have "absolute immunity" for any and all crimes they commit while in office. They don't. It's nowhere to be found in the Constitution or anywhere else. But Donald Trump has made that argument in order to delay his federal criminal trial on charges related to having attempted to steal the 2020 Presidential election. The lower courts denied his argument, and yet the corrupted SCOTUS decided to hear it anyway and took their sweet time in doing so.

We spent a fair amount of time on that previous show discussing the ridiculous question that the Supremes claim to be examining --- whether a President is immune "from criminal prosecution for conduct alleged to involve official acts during his tenure in office" --- and how the Justices on the Court questioned the counselor representing Special Counsel Jack Smith and the attorney representing Trump in the disgraced former President's delayed 2020 election interference case.

The decision to hear the case, of course, has prevented that federal trial --- originally scheduled for March --- from moving forward at all. The Court took enough time even scheduling Oral Argument to likely prevent the case on four felony charges from going to trial, much less completing, before America is asked to vote on whether to give the President who tried to steal the 2020 election another term of office in the 2024 election.

But we didn't spend as much time in our coverage last week on just how transparently corrupt this entire exercise was and is, with at least five of the rightwing Justices appearing more concerned about the potential rogue prosecution of a President than about the ability for the American people to bring criminal accountability against an actual rogue President.

The upside --- if there can be one --- is that it seems the scales have fallen from the eyes of most serious Court watchers who had long fooled themselves into believe that, when the rubber meets the road, even the rightwing Justices (three of them appointed by Trump himself) would do the right thing for the nation instead of their party. Thursday's absurd hearing seems to have made it clear to just about every serious person that the Roberts court is now doing little more than running interference for Republican policies in general and the former Republican President in particular. In a word: it is corrupt.

Our long-held position that the stolen and packed rightwing supermajority on the U.S. Supreme Court has been completely corrupted is no longer a particularly radical, or even minority view among serious people. Recognizing that is a first step toward figuring out what to do about it and how, if possible, to overcome it.

We were also able to take some calls from listeners today --- (surprisingly, we were able to do so at the new KPFK location, where the phone system is largely only half in place ) --- regarding what, if anything, can or should be done about any of this as the nation stumbles its way toward November, potential autocracy under a rogue, criminal President and his Court, and whatever dystopian American future may accompany it...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Pandora, TuneIn, Google, Amazon or our native RSS feed!

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Guest: Legal journalist Mark Joseph Stern on two ridiculous cases, increasing court dysfunction; Also: Primary, Special Election results from AZ, FL, IL, KS, OH, CA; And the Biden EPA's 'biggest climate move yet'...
By Brad Friedman on 3/20/2024 6:36pm PT  

From top to bottom, the Federal Judiciary, as evidenced several times this week alone and discussed in detail on today's BradCast, seems to be coming undone. [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

But, first up today, a quick review of Tuesday's Primary and Special Election results in Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Ohio and California. Both Joe Biden and Donald Trump have already won enough delegates to clinch their respective party's nomination, but there are still a several interesting data points of notes to be gleaned from Tuesday's results.

Among them, Trump is consistently losing a far larger share of Republican votes than Biden is losing on the Democratic side. On Tuesday, for example, Biden's reported margin of victory in the states where he was on the ballot was anywhere from 74 to 88 points, while Trump's margin never cracked even 70 points, ranging from 59 to 67. In short, Biden seems to be far more popular among Democratic primary voters than Trump is among Republicans.

We've got other noteworthy tales of the tape today, along with Senate Primary results out of Ohio, where both Democrats and Donald Trump appear to be very happy that Trump-backed Bernie Moreno will be the GOP's nominee running against three-term progressive Democratic U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown in November. And, in California, Democrats are no doubt happy to see that nobody won more than 50% of the vote in the Special Election to fill the seat left vacant by ousted Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy on Tuesday. That means his seat in the closely divided U.S. House, which will almost certainly go to a Republican eventually, will remain empty until at least the Special Election runoff in May.

Also of note today, what the Washington Post is describing as the Biden Administration's "biggest climate move yet". Desi Doyen joins us to explain the EPA's new final rule that is set to increase the speed of the nation's transition to cleaner Electric and Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles; how rightwing media are already lying about the EPA's new rule; and how Republican states and the fossil fuel industry will soon be seeking out friendly judges in the federal judiciary to try and undermine the new rule and its billions of dollars in life-saving new vehicle emissions standards for the American people and the planet.

Then, speaking of friendly rightwing judges, two cases that came before the corrupted U.S. Supreme Court this week --- when, in fact, neither of them should have --- serve to highlight our increasingly brittle judicial system and how it is being gamed by the far-right.

We're joined today by Slate's great legal journalist, MARK JOSEPH STERN to discuss both cases and what they might tell us about a court system, and perhaps a U.S. Supreme Court, nearing a breaking point.

We originally invited Stern for today's show to discuss Monday's absurd case brought by Republican-run states falsely claiming the Biden Administration is somehow violating First Amendment free speech rights by forcing social media companies like Twitter and Facebook to take down posts they don't like regarding COVID, election fraud and more. Of course, the government is not doing that at all. Stern describes the case at Slate --- Murthy v. Missouri (originally Missouri v. Biden) --- as "brain-meltingly dumb", "asinine", and "what happens when a lawless judge and a terrible appeals court embrace the dopiest First Amendment claim you’ve ever heard out of pure spite toward a Democratic president."

The case should never have even made it out of the lowest District Court, but for a Trump-appointed judge who "completely butchered the record and, I think, willfully misrepresented a huge amount of communications between federal officials and social media companies," Stern tells me. "He would pluck individual little clauses from those emails, rearrange them to make it sound like coercion, and then use that to develop what is frankly a conspiracy theory that the federal government strong-armed these companies into silencing their users and censoring speech. It's just not true." (See this article for just some of the gobsmacking examples of ways in which U.S. District Judge Terry Doughty "butchered the record" by falsely representing the evidence record in his ruling.)

Making matters worse, the nation's most extreme appellate court, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, further butchered the record to accomplish what corrupt Supreme Court Justices Thomas, Alito and Gorsuch laughably described when the case came up to SCOTUS as "extensive findings of fact" that "showed the existence of ‘a coordinated campaign’ of unprecedented ‘magnitude orchestrated by federal officials that jeopardized a fundamental aspect of American life.'"

Monday's Oral Argument at SCOTUS, however, pulled the rug out from under pretty much all of that, as the phony allegations met skepticism from even the bulk of the Court's rightwingers. But before we could get to that case today, as previously planned, we had to get through the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals' other recent clown show (which the rightwingers on SCOTUS were happy to play along with last night): their attempt to allow Texas' new law that overturns a century of legal precedent and the U.S. Constitution itself to grant powers to state and local police that override federal immigration law, allowing them to arrest and deport suspected undocumented immigrants.

Stern unpacks the bizarre twists and turns the case has seen over the past 24 hours, and charges that the procedural nonsense from the 5th Circuit and subsequent acquiescence by SCOTUS simply "boggles the mind."

So, what might we learn from all of this --- and all that has come before it --- regarding corrupt Trump-appointed judges, a corrupt 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, a corrupt and increasingly volatile SCOTUS, and the rightwing judge shopping that exploits all of it? We discuss all of that and more with Stern who details "a kind of terrifying intramural war within the judiciary," as some of the courts are pushing back against an attempt by the U.S. Judicial Conference (headed up by Chief Justice Roberts) to rein in judge shopping, and, ultimately, how restoring confidence in the High Court itself may "all come down to what Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett want to do with the courts and want their legacy to be."

"Until they take a harder line here, it's going to remain just as broken as it looks," Stern asserts. "It's going to be even worse behind the scenes, based on what I'm hearing about how these judges' relationships are breaking down over this stuff --- and we're going to have different factions within the judiciary that are fighting for power, not unlike the Kremlin at the height of Soviet-era madness"...

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Threat of nationwide ban is over, likelihood of newly imposed restrictions on expanded, FDA-approved availability dimmed...
By Ernest A. Canning on 12/21/2023 12:35pm PT  

Believe it or not, we have good news at year's end from our otherwise radicalized and corrupted U.S. Supreme Court regarding abortion rights.

SCOTUS' recent decision [PDF], in Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. Food & Drug Adm., to hear the abortion pill case in response to the Petition [PDF] filed by the Biden Administration's U.S. Solicitor General and to grant the Petition [PDF] filed by manufacturer Danco Laboratories --- together with its denial of AHM's Cross Petition [PDF] --- is an encouraging development for reproductive liberty.

The Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine (AHM) is a group of right-wing Christian physicians who sought, and initially obtained, a nationwide ban on the prescription, sale, distribution and use of mifepristone --- a medication first approved by the FDA in 2000 as part of a two-drug regimen to terminate early-stage, intrauterine pregnancies.

According to the FDA's January 2023 Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategies [REMS] determination for the drug, mifepristone enables a woman "to end an intrauterine pregnancy through ten weeks gestation," during which it is found to be both 98% effective and safer than Tylenol.

On April 7, 2023, however, Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, a Trump appointed, Texas-based U.S. District Court Judge, issued a preliminary injunction that imposed a nationwide ban on mifepristone. Before being tapped by Trump, Kacsmaryk was an anti-choice activist and is regarded by many as a right-wing religious zealot. His ruling was in direct conflict with a separate decision issued on the same day by U.S. District Court Judge Thomas O. Rice in Washington State. Rice ordered the FDA to keep mifepristone on the shelves of 14 States and the District of Columbia.

Although the conservative 5th Circuit Court of Appeals refused to stay Kacsmaryk's nationwide ban, the U.S. Supreme court, in late April, by way of a 7 - 2 Decision [PDF] (with Justices Alito and Thomas dissenting), granted a stay of both the 5th Circuit and Judge Kacsmaryk's temporary, nationwide ban on mifepristone. By the express terms of the April 21 SCOTUS decision, the stay would remain in effect until the end of the appellate process.

Because the Supreme Court has now granted both the government's and mifepristone manufacturer Danco's petitions for certiorari, at a minimum, that stay will remain in effect until the Supreme Court issues its final ruling.

Kacsmaryk's original total ban rested upon what, even then, seemed like a tenuous AHM effort to evade a six-year statute of limitations with respect to the FDA's initial approval of mifepristone that was issued while Bill Clinton was still in office. The Supreme Court's denial of the AHM cross-petition, which contested the 5th Circuit's ruling [PDF] --- that the effort to contest the 2000 approval is barred by the statute of limitations --- is now final.

Thus, the judicial threat of a nationwide ban on mifepristone no longer exists!

One of the two remaining issues, however, entails whether the 5th Circuit erred in finding that the FDA acted in an arbitrary and capricious manner in its subsequent REMS determinations, years after the 2000 approval. (Those subsequent REMS determinations, based upon extensive medical studies and worldwide practical use, made it easier for patients to obtain access to mifepristone). But before the Supremes can even reach that issue, they face the threshold question as to whether AHM physicians who do not even use or prescribe mifepristone have Article III standing to file their legal challenge to the FDA-approved abortion pill in the first place...

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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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Democracy can reverse the damage wrought by corrupt, right-wing Supreme Court ideologues...
By Ernest A. Canning on 8/7/2023 9:49am PT  

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that."
-- Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

When our corrupted U.S. Supreme Court, in June, handed down their closing opinions for last year's term, it became clear that we are facing a dark judicial hour in this nation.

Dark for women whose reproductive liberty and very lives have been placed at risk; dark for those who are drowning in seemingly insurmountable student debt; dark for those in the LGBTQ+ community who are seeing their very existence and right to medical care being challenged; dark for young African-American students hoping to acquire a higher education so as to overcome our nation's legacy of systemic racism; dark for the families of the ever-growing number of victims of mass shootings.

Our judicial institutions, for the moment, are still holding when it comes to accountability for the scoundrel who served as our 45th President. But, for too many others, the High Court has wrought a darkness brought on by the corrosive influence of the billionaire class and the "dark money" that billionaires and corporations use to corrupt our political and legal institutions.

That darkness comes courtesy of the Supreme Court's infamous 2010 Citizens United decision. It is a darkness also facilitated by political chicanery resulting in a Republican Party, which lost the popular vote in seven of the last eight Presidential Elections, packing a "corrupt" supermajority of six right-wing ideologues onto the nine-member High Court.

Their dark, radical interpretations of the Rule of Law have done more than simply endanger democracy's survival. By inventing a Second Amendment right of an individual to bear arms unrelated to military service in a State's "well-regulated" militia, the Roberts Court has become "destructive" of the first of the "unalienable Rights" listed in our nation's Declaration of Independence --- the right to "Life"!

Early last month, for example, CBS published a jaw-dropping U.S. statistic, citing "26 mass shootings in the first five days of July."

Yet, it is the dark and oppressive nature of the immensely unpopular decisions handed down by six unelected "radicals in robes", that, ironically, may help to facilitate a new dawn. The bright side of their decisions can be found in an incensed electorate, whose approval of the Court, as presently constituted, has plunged to a dismal 29%.

Democracy, as the late British MP Tony Benn described it, is "more revolutionary than socialist ideas." It is the light that can drive out the darkness.

The very existence of public revulsion towards the dark turn by the Court in recent years, such as overturning abortion rights and much more, make a 2024 Blue Tsunami possible. If the source of the darkness lies in the decisions of a corrupt and radicalized Supreme Court, then Democrats must convey a clear and coherent message that a vote for their candidates will serve to restore the light...including with reform of the Court itself...

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And his inability to read the simple text of the U.S. Constitution; Also: Callers ring in on him, Trump and other democracy v. autocracy issues...
By Brad Friedman on 7/31/2023 6:07pm PT  

Whenever we're able to open up the phones to callers on The BradCast, I invite listeners to ring in and disrupt all of my plans for the day. Happily, they took me up on the offer today! [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Thus, my plan for the second half of today's show --- to focus on Trump's latest criminal charges (Which ones? Take your pick!) --- was largely waylaid by folks who wanted to discuss both him and the topic of my monologue in the first part of today's show regarding the wildly corrupt U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Samuel Alito.

On Friday, the Wall Street Journal's editorial page ran parts of fawning 4-hour interview with Alito, in which he falsely claimed: "No provision in the Constitution gives [Congress] the authority to regulate the Supreme Court-period."

Perhaps Alito has never read the U.S. Constitution? For example, he must have missed the part (Article III, Section 2) which reads: "[T]he supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact...and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make." [Emphasis mine.]

As Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) pointed out on CNN over the weekend in response to Alito's B.S., Alito arguably owes his seat to the fact that Congress has regulated the number of seats that are on the Court (and have changed that number many times over the years) since the Constitution was founded! Of course, Alito likely also hates the fact that Congress, after Watergate, as per the Constitution, created legislation (regulations!) requiring annual financial disclosures by SCOTUS Justices. As ProPublica recently detailed, Alito has flouted that legislation by failing to disclose his luxury travel funded by GOP megadonors and other Republican ideologues.

Arguably worse, however, is the fact that one of the authors of the WSJ piece is attorney David Rivkin. He is currently representing the far-right Leonard Leo before the U.S. Senate, which is seeking Leo's testimony as part of their consideration of reforming the corrupted Court. Leo is the longtime head of the Federalist Society, which has spent decades shaping the federal judiciary --- including SCOTUS --- to the liking of billionaire rightwing ideologues.

Even more shameful than that, Rivkin currently has a case pending before the High Court next term! Moore v. U.S. is likely to result in a landmark ruling that could establish whether or not a wealth tax --- long sought by progressive Dems and opposed by rightwing ideologues --- is Constitutional or not.

And yet, Rivkin arguably gave Alito something of value --- presumably for free --- in his four-hour softball interview with the Justice, headlined "Samuel Alito, The Supreme Court's Plain Spoken Defender," in which Rivkin and his co-writer (WSJ Editorial Page Editor James Taranto) fluffed him up with a 2,400-word puff piece including remarks praising Alito, for instance, for his "candor that is refreshing and can be startling."

I'm sure Sammy appreciates it and will remember the favor when it's time to decide Moore v. U.S next year. That's because Alito is damned near as corrupt as Clarence Thomas and don't even get me started here on him today. (I had a few words for the corrupted Clarence on today's show, however.)

After that, my plans to cover Donald Trump's latest criminal problems and two recent Court losses (one today, one last Friday) in the second part of the show, as mentioned, were largely waylaid by callers. And happily so! We had some very good ones! Enjoy!...

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Guest: Legal journalist Mark Joseph Stern of Slate on that and other 'Major Questions' from our radical, activist, corrupted U.S. Supreme Court...
By Brad Friedman on 7/12/2023 6:35pm PT  

It's been too long, but we're delighted to have one of our favorite guests back on today's BradCast! [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

But first, in a rare, one day only special session of the State Legislature called by Iowa's Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds on Tuesday, GOP lawmakers in the Hawkeye State hastily adopted a ban on almost all abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, before most know they are even pregnant.

Reynolds had the temerity to declare that "the voices of Iowans and their democratically elected representatives cannot be ignored any longer." That, despite recent state polling finding that 61% of voters in Iowa support legal abortion in all or most cases, with just 35% saying it should be banned.

Well, the "elected representatives" have now been heard --- Reynolds plans to sign the measure on Friday, when it will immediately take effect --- but the voices of Iowans certainly haven't. The new law was passed with only Republican votes. It allows limited exceptions after 6 weeks in some cases of rape, incest and certain medical emergencies. A lawsuit by proponents of reproductive freedom was filed today. We explain the details and the news that former Vice President and current 2024 GOP candidate for President, Mike Pence, is both calling for a similar ban at the federal level and believes abortion should be banned even when a pregnancy is not viable and doctors have determined a baby cannot survive outside of the womb. (None of the other 2024 GOP candidates has been willing to say they disagree with Pence.)

That cruelty, unfortunately, is now par for the course in the Republican Party, and is reflected in similar legislative bans on reproductive freedoms now in at least 17 states just one year after the corrupted, far-right U.S. Supreme Court activist majority overturned Roe v. Wade's 50 years of Constitutional reproductive freedoms.

Rulings made by SCOTUS this year, sadly, are no less radical, even as several of them issued at term's end last month have been cited by some in the media to suggest that Chief Justice John Roberts has somewhat "moderated" the most extreme positions of the Court. That would be inaccurate, but exactly what Roberts had hoped for.

We're joined today by the great MARK JOSEPH STERN, legal journalist at Slate to discuss a number of those decisions, and what has now emerged as Roberts' neat trick to hoax the media into regarding him and some of the opinions issued by the Court this year as "moderate".

In short, as Stern details today, Roberts is essentially manipulating the Court's docket --- by determining which cases to hear and which ones not to --- in order to make SCOTUS' end-of-term opinions appear less extreme, overall, than they actually are.

"They have consistently taken up these cases that sort of seem designed to terrify liberals. Then, when the case comes down in a way that's not the end of the world, they get good headlines," he explains.

"The Court really shouldn't have been hearing a lot of these cases in the first place. So, by deciding them in a so-called 'liberal way', they create this image of balance and moderation that's not really deserved," he argues. "There's no better example of that than the Independent State Legislature case [Moore v. Harper]. There was absolutely no reason for the Supreme Court to intervene, and yet it reached down and grabbed that case. And, by deciding it in a somewhat moderate way --- although Roberts left the door open for mischief, as he so often does --- the Court got great headlines as being so moderate and thoughtful."

"That is a trick that the Chief Justice is very good at playing on the media. But it's not one I think we should fall for, given how obvious it is and how many decisions that he really cares about [that] end up coming out so far to the right over and over again."

"We pretend as though these cases emerged out of nowhere, when in reality, the Court is building a very careful story, using each individual case to try to show something about the Court that it thinks will appeal to the public." But that doesn't reveal the full story, Stern argues. "The 'liberal victories' simply leave the law as it was, without making any changes. Whereas the conservative victories radically overhaul the law in ways that were unimaginable just five or six years ago. That's also something that I think is very difficult to explain to people who don't watch the Court closely, but becomes blazingly obvious once you apply a little bit of scrutiny to how this Court operates."

And now, it's all making much more sense.

We saw that neat trick play out once again this year, as the stolen, packed and corrupted far-right majority, at terms end, ultimately reverted to form to overturn decades-old precedents regarding race-based Affirmative Action in college admissions (though not other Affirmative Actions, for example, legacy admissions and those for the kids of high ticket donors); the Court expanded newly discovered Constitutional "religious freedoms" to allow web page designers (and, actually, any other business) to discriminate against LGBTQ+ customers based on imaginary --- in fact, wholly fraudulent --- grievances; they picked up on last year's Judicial Activism by further restricting the EPA's ability to meet mandates of landmark laws passed by Congress, in this year's case, the Clean Water Act; and, they determined that while forgiving millions of dollar in loans to so-called small businesses and cutting taxes for billionaires was just fine, forgiving $10,000 to student loan borrowers during a national emergency --- in specific accordance with the original text of federal law --- was a bridge too far for a President of the United States...or, at least for the current President of the United States. (The Court showed no such "conservatism" when Donald Trump used the same exact law to "modify or waive" conditions for the same student loans.)

As bad as all of those decisions were, I had specific questions about one of them that sort of seems to give away the game for this far-right Court, with six Republican-appointed Justices now more than happy to legislate from the bench after years of their party pretending to be against that sort of thing.

As it turns out, the case I had questions about --- the one I saw as the most alarming and worst ruling of the term --- is one that Stern felt the same about. It's the one in which the Court relies on a made-up-out-of-whole-cloth, completely subjective test they now refer to as the "Major Questions Doctrine" whenever they don't have a legitimate reason to block an Executive Branch action, even when it's based on the specific text of a law they may not like.

"Justice Kagan has called this a 'get-out-of-text-free card,'" Stern tells me. "This is not a legitimate tool of statutory interpretation, because it means that the Court can set aside what the actual words of the law say, and just apply their own opinion, under this very thin guise of trying to uphold Congress' will." Last year they cited this pretend "doctrine" to say the EPA couldn't regulate carbon emissions under the Clean Air Act, despite the specific text of the law, because it was just too much of a "Major Question" that Congress had to speak to in more specific language somehow. This year, they used it to block President Biden from forgiving certain student loans amid the COVID pandemic, as specifically allowed by the HEROES Act.

"When you're dealing with the federal government, every policy is going to be major," Stern argues. "Every policy is going to affect as many as 300 million Americans. Every policy is going to have a fiscal impact of more than billions of dollars. So this is really just an excuse, in every single case, for the Court to ignore the law that Congress has passed, perversely while claiming to uphold Congress' wishes."

We discuss that and much more today, including which upcoming cases most concern him on the docket for the Court's next term. Should we freak out about them? Or are they also now just part of Robert's insidious manipulation to be sure to have a few cases on which the Court's rightwingers can appear to be far less radical than they actually are?...

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The fight against propaganda, denial, corruption and racism continues...
By Brad Friedman on 6/29/2023 6:37pm PT  

We wrap up our last BradCast before standing down next week with a bunch of disparate stuff, both good and bad, and even a song to help you whistle as you leave the theater before next week's holiday. [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

WE DID START THE FIRE: And we're also responsible for the smoke from hundreds of them in Canada, now threatening the health of more than 100 million Americans. We're also responsible for the record, weeks-long deadly, triple-digit heat wave in Texas now spreading north and east and touching off deadly severe storms along with it. Of course, those who watch Fox "News" and the read their deceptive Fox Weather website will never know who's to blame for it all and who is endangering their lives and those of their great grand-kids. But keeping their viewers and readers dumb and disinformed is the whole purpose of the Fox fake news project. Sadly, we all pay the price.

'CEASEFIRE AND NEGOTIATE!': Happily, it seems the 24-hour mutiny in Russia last weekend --- wherein longtime Vladimir Putin-ally, Yevgeny Prigozhin, gave the game away by declaring that their imperialist invasion of Ukraine was built on lies and was never about either "demilitarizing" or "de-Nazifying" Ukraine --- has helped the scales fall from a bunch of Americans' eyes. New polling from Reuters/Ipsos since the Prigozhin's short-lived insurrection finds a nearly 20-point bump since last month in American support for Joe Biden's policy of helping Ukraine defend themselves. That includes majorities in both major parties as well as independents. That's very good news. And, while I'm unlikely to reach many of the duped rightwingers who have fallen hook, line and sinker for Putin (and Trump) propaganda about the conflict, I am hoping that I might still be able to help some of those on the supposed anti-war Left who have fallen for the same propaganda. I'm talking largely about the "ceasefire and negotiate!" crowd. A few words for them today in hopes of helping a least a few of them understand how they have also been played by the same, authoritarian sources as the rightwingers.

'THIS IS NOT A NORMAL COURT': President Biden was right about that today, at least. We knew after all of the surprisingly good rulings of late from our otherwise corrupted, stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court majority --- on issues of democracy and voting, in particular --- that it was almost certainly too good to last. As the high court's 2022 term comes to a close, they returned to their corrupted form on Thursday by overturning more than 40 years of precedent to bar Affirmative Action policies in college admissions for all private and public colleges and universities (while exempting military academies for some odd reason). Though it's not easy, we try to make sense of the Court's dizzying 237-page ruling [PDF], including multiple concurrences and dissents, as the far-right activists on the bench --- and those that put them there --- get to cross another long-term project off their list today.

SMOKE GETS IN YOUR EYES: And lungs, from the record shattering Canadian wildfires. At least if you live in any of a whole bunch of states in the mid-west or east this week. That, and more climate news, both good and bad, as Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report.

THEY DEFINITELY DIDN'T START THE FIRE: But they did, after 34 years, put all news words to it! And not a moment too soon, in my opinion! Yours may vary. Either way, we're happy to close out today's final show before taking off next week over the Independence Day holiday, with Fall Out Boy's brand-new version of a 1989 Billy Joel classic...

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Also: Attorney Keith Barber on newly released July 2021 audio tape of Trump showing classified military Iran attack plans to book authors...
By Brad Friedman on 6/27/2023 6:13pm PT  

It's a good day on The BradCast. Let's enjoy it while it lasts. [Audio link to full program follows below this summary.]

After a full year of five-alarm warnings on this program about the the Moore v. Harper case at the U.S. Supreme Court, and the havoc its so-called Independent State Legislature theory would wreak on American elections and hundreds of years of American election law if approved by a Court majority, I'm very happy to say, the grave threat is over. For now.

By a 6 to 3 majority, with Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Kavanaugh and Barrett joining all three liberals on the Court, the fringe ISL theory was soundly rejected (PDF). That theory, pushed by Rightwingers --- especially by Trumpers after the 2020 election --- holds that the U.S. Constitution's Elections Clause, allowing State Legislatures to determine "times, places and manner" of federal elections in their state, also give those Legislatures plenary power to make all laws pertaining to federal elections without the possibility of any sort of judicial review.

Had the Supreme Court majority gone the other way in this case, as many feared, State Legislatures would have had the only power to make such laws and rules. No Gubernatorial veto or state Supreme Court or state constitution --- or even state ballot initiative adopted by voters --- could have blocked them. They could have instituted partisan gerrymanders, even if their state's constitution barred them. They could have chosen which Presidential electors to send to the Electoral College, even if state voters had selected a different candidate. (It is under the ISL theory that Trump and his legal stooges like Rudy Giuliani and John Eastman tried to convince State Legislatures in Georgia, Arizona, Wisconsin, etc., that they had the power to choose Trump electors, even though voters in all of those states had voted for Biden.)

Voting rights advocates are breathing a huge sigh of relief today. Had the Court gone the other way, as many feared, more than 170 state constitutional provisions, over 650 state laws delegating authority to make election policies to state and local officials, and thousands of regulations down to the location of polling places could have been affected or simply overturned, according to Brennan Center for Justice.

Tuesday's news follows several other, surprisingly not insane rulings by the Court in recent weeks, where enough rightwingers peeled off to join the Court's Liberals to avoid worst case scenarios. As Slate's Mark Joseph Stern concludes in his article today on the Moore v. Harper decision, headlined "John Roberts Has Wrested Back Control of the Supreme Court": "So far this term, [Roberts] is once again in the driver’s seat—and the court is acting a lot more like a court than this time last year. It’s too early for grand conclusions. But it sure looks like a majority of the justices want us to know that they are backing away from the brink."

There are a few more major rulings to come --- on Affirmative Action in college admissions; on Biden's student loan forgiveness program; and on another dumb anti-LGBTQ "religious rights" case --- before this year's term wraps up at week's end. Decisions are likely to come on Thursday. But, even adverse rulings on those issues, as expected, are unlikely to have the democracy-rattling effect of what the case over the ISL theory would have wreaked, or had the Supremes gutted what is left of the Voting Rights Act (which was also feared but, also surprisingly, the Court did the right thing instead by following both precedent at the Constitution.) Perhaps a few members of SCOTUS' far-rightwing have learned a thing or two since their disastrous Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade this time last year.

On the other hand, having not learned a think since this time last year is our twice-criminally indicted former President. On Monday night, CNN released the actual audio recording of a meeting cited in Special Counsel Jack Smith's 37-count felony indictment [PDF] against Trump on charges related to violations of the Espionage Act and obstruction of justice. It's a tape of the July 2021 meeting at his Bedminster, New Jersey resort, as described on pages 15 & 16 of the indictment, wherein Trump claims to be showing classified documents on military plans for an attack on Iran to a group of people writing a book.

Trump is heard in the audio telling his cackling audience that the documents he is showing them are "highly confidential," "done by the military [and] given to me," and that he no longer had the power to declassify them, now that he was out of office.

His recent explanation about the incident to Bret Baier of Fox "News", when asked about the description in the indictment prior to the release of the actual tape on Monday night, appears to be in pretty stark contradiction with what is heard on the audio tape. We play both recordings in full today so you can decide.

We're joined again today by former Republican attorney and U.S. Army Captain turned Daily Kos blogger KEITH BARBER to discuss the Trump tape; how it compares to its description in the Mar-a-Lago indictment; who might have leaked it and why; what the same behavior would have earned him as a member of the military; and what it is likely to mean for Trump's stolen documents case as it plays out in Florida under a wildly inexperienced and arguably corrupt Trump-appointed federal judge.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest 'Green News Report' with rough news on the climate changed-fueled extreme weather pounding much of the nation this week (especially Texas), but with some far better news for EV charging standards and the solar industry as it overtakes fossil fuels...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Former DoJ, U.S. Senate, U.S. Court system official Lisa Graves of True North Research; Also: Texas heat; Ridiculous House GOP majority...
By Brad Friedman on 6/22/2023 5:52pm PT  

On today's BradCast, it's yet another "tour de force" of rightwing U.S. Supreme Court Justice corruption by billionaire Republican megadonors. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

But, FIRST UP, a few words on the climate change-intensified heatwaves continuing to pulse through Texas and threatening to max out its rickety privatized electric grid, as officials attempt to conserve their way out of the crisis and as the state's cruel GOP Governor Greg Abbott enacts a big government ban on local ordinances mandating water breaks for construction workers.

Also, a few thoughts today on the indescribably dumb GOP House majority, hellbent on shooting themselves, repeatedly, in their collective feet --- over and over again --- and why they've decided to take out their impotency, frustration and failure, at least this week, on the very effective Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA).

THEN, the investigative team at non-profit news outlet ProPublica strikes again this week. On the heels of recent blockbuster reports detailing decades of corruption by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas via hundreds of thousands of dollars in undeclared luxury vacations and travel, gifts, real estate deals and cash payments from rightwing megadonor Harlan Crow (and the Federalist Society's Leonard Leo), it was apparently Justice Sam Alito's time in the barrel this week.

As ProPublica's Justin Elliott, Joshua Kaplan and Alex Mierjeski documented Wednesday, Alito enjoyed private jet travel to a fancy Alaskan fishing excursion some years ago courtesy of rightwing billionaire megadonor Paul Singer. The hedge fund "vulture capitalist" would go on to repeatedly sing the praises of his fishing buddy over the years as "a model Supreme Court Justice" when introducing him at rightwing fundraisers, even as Singer had repeated business before the Court. Alito never declared the subsidized travel with Singer on annual disclosure forms, nor did he recuse himself from SCOTUS cases in which Singer would eventually reap billions of dollars.

Sound familiar? It should. In both Alito and Thomas' cases, the blooming friendships between Justices and billionaires was fostered and massaged by Leo, longtime leader of the far-right Federalist Society, which has been shaping the federal judiciary via Republican Presidents --- and matchmaking between Justices and wealthy benefactors --- for decades now.

We're joined today by the great LISA GRAVES, who previously served as Deputy Asst. A.G. at the Justice Department, Chief Counsel for nominations in the US Senate, and as a Deputy Chief of the Article III Judges Division for the U.S. court system. She now rakes muck as the founder of Truth North Research, helping to expose the toxic and corrupting effect of unbridled rightwing money poured into our political and judicial system from those like Crow, Singer, Leo and the Koch network.

Graves responds to a number of claims made by Alito in his unusual op-ed published by rightwing billionaire Rupert Murdoch's Wall Street Journal this week, where he chose to prebut ProPublica's reporting on Tuesday, instead of either responding to the journalists questions or doing so through the Court's communications office. Graves describes his remarks in the Journal as "extraordinarily deceitful and deceptive."

"Everyone knows that private jet travel is not permissible as a gift of supposed 'hospitality'," she explains. "The hospitality exception in those long-standing gift rules is basically meant to cover things like your high school friend throws you a party for your birthday at their house. Not this sort of post-appointment currying of favor by super-rich people subsidizing a luxury lifestyle through fabulous trips."

She argues the subsidized travel violates the law, along with Alito's failure to disclose it on his annual financial statements. There's false statements on those disclosure forms in which they [both Alito and Thomas] assert there's nothing more to disclose, that they've disclosed everything that they've been obligated to, and they clearly haven't."

"One of the things that this reveals is that the Court actually has no enforceable ethical code which would require the Justices to recuse themselves if there is bias or the appearance of bias, similar to the language that's in the Code of Conduct for US judges that does not apply to the Supreme Court, that they've chosen to not have any enforceable mechanism for."

"If an ordinary person would think that this sort of thing would create bias, a judge basically has an obligation to disclose it and/or to recuse themselves from cases where that bias might be raised," she says. But those rules only apply to the lower courts. When it comes to SCOTUS, the decision of whether to recuse is left entirely up to each Justice.

Graves also offers insight on the corrosive effect of "travel agent" and "matchmaker" Leo, who wields power with donors by hooking them up with Justices for "luxury travel subsidized by billionaires who have business before the Court."

When it comes to Alito, "this is a man who has acted as though he is the keeper of the kingdom in terms of strictly reading the Constitution, claiming this 'strict constructionist' or so-called 'originalist' approach, a faux neutral approach to the law. This is the man who orchestrated the overturning of almost 50 years of legal precedent on abortion. If this guy can't read the actual statute and regulations which expressly describe how [private] jets don't count as hospitality, how can we possibly have any confidence --- and I think most people don't --- that he would act impartially to read the Constitution or the case law around abortion or other issues that he doesn't like?" --- Or, other issues that his billionaire benefactors don't like.

FINALLY, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, which begins with astonishing heat in Texas and India and ends on an even more fowl note...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Author, redistricting expert David Daley of FairVote; Also: House Republicans mutiny against House Republicans...
By Brad Friedman on 6/8/2023 6:26pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Yes, some actual, unqualified good and, frankly, surprisingly good news from our otherwise wildly corrupted U.S. Supreme Court on voting rights and racial gerrymandering! [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Last year, following oral argument at the High Court in Allen v. Milligan, a Voting Rights Act challenge in Alabama, pretty much all Court watchers and voting rights advocates thought that Section 2 of the VRA was in big, big trouble. That, after the Supremes had already gutted Section 5 of the Act in the Shelby County case back in 2013 and have been nibbling away at the rest of the landmark 1965 law ever since.

But on Thursday, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh actually joined with the Court's three liberals in a 5 to 4 majority opinion [PDF], upholding a lower court ruling by a three-judge panel --- including two Trump appointees --- which had determined that Alabama must rewrite its redistricted Congressional maps after the 2020 Census to include a second majority Black U.S. House District.

Early last year SCOTUS had used the "shadow docket" to temporarily put the lower court's ruling on hold without a hearing, allowing the 2022 elections to move forward with just one out of AL's seven U.S. House Districts having a Black majority, despite African-Americans comprising some 27% of the state's population. That ruling --- along with tea leaves read from oral argument last year and Roberts' history of working to dismantle the VRA --- led many to believe the Court would permanently allow the state's racial gerrymander to remain in place, effectively overturning the ban on election laws and House maps created with a racially discriminatory intent.

Alabama's GOP gerrymander had been challenged as a violation of both the Constitution and Section 2 of the VRA, after the Supremes' previous gutting of Section 5 of the Act removed the mandate for jurisdictions to demonstrate in advance that new election laws did not discriminate on the basis of race. Challenges under the Act may still be filed under Section 2, but only after the discriminatory voting measure has been enacted.

The Court's actions last year also allowed similar racial gerrymanders in several other states, including Louisiana, Georgia, Texas and elsewhere, resulting in the GOP winning a razor-thin 5-seat majority in the U.S. House in November.

Thursday's stunning decision, according to experts, could net Democrats as many as four or more seats in the House in the 2024 elections, and is likely to affect ongoing legal challenges in as many as 10 states.

Our guest on today's program believes that, "Gerrymandering and redistricting was one of the big reasons why Republicans probably had about a net gain of between 12 and 15 seats [last year] when you look at the various partisan gerrymanders and the various racial gerrymanders that the Court allowed."

We're joined today to discuss all of this, the details of how it happened, and what it appears to mean going by forward by a stunned DAVID DALEY of FairVote, where he is an expert on gerrymandering and author of two different books on the topic.

"I don't even know what to say," Daley explains at the top of our conversation. "I'm so used to delivering the bad news, and all of a sudden I'm a doctor telling you you're going to live forever. This is an unusual role for me."

But, don't worry. Daley is still able to share a number of concerns about several other cases with opinions coming soon from SCOTUS, despite today's unreservedly good news for voters, voting rights, and the future of the not-dead-yet Voting Rights Act!

THEN, with today's excellent news that may well result in Democrats regaining the majority arguably stolen from them by unlawful GOP gerrymanders last November, the current GOP majority in the House is busy eating itself alive. The party's far-right flank has mounted a mutiny on the House floor this week, in rebellion against Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy's debt ceiling deal last week with President Biden to avoid the first-ever default of the U.S. Government. And it's all quite hilarious.

FINALLY, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as the worsening affects of our climate crisis are now choking Americans across much of the east coast and midwest with toxic smoke from hundreds of record, out-of-control, Canadian wildfires blanketing much of the nation. We also cover the Biden EPA's long-overdue upgrades of Jackson, Mississippi's water system and the ecological disaster in the wake of the destruction of a critical dam in Russian-occupied Ukraine.

[NOTE: Today's program was completed just prior to the breaking news late today of Donald Trump's reportedly 7-count federal criminal indictment in Special Counsel Jack Smith's probe in the disgraced former President's stolen documents case. We'll pick up on that historically good news, no doubt, next week!]

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Former federal prosecutor Randall D. Eliason; Also: How DeSantis robbed freedoms and weaponized Big Government 'cancel culture' in FL...
By Brad Friedman on 5/24/2023 6:47pm PT  

After more than twenty years of rolling back corruption and bribery statutes, is it any wonder, as our guest on today's BradCast observed in his latest op-ed, that the U.S. Supreme Court is now "blind to its own corruption"?

BUT FIRST, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is announcing his 2024 Presidential run today, and corporate media outlets are focusing on his horse race with the disgraced former President. We mark the day, however, by focusing on several of the latest victims of DeSantis' Big Government weaponization against people of color and the LGBTQ+ community. That, by a guy whose 2022 re-election slogan in Florida was, laughably, "Freedom Lives Here".

DeSantis deserves credit for leading the way for other, similarly gerrymandered and GOP-controlled states which have begun to adopt many of the same, hateful, Big Government "cancel culture" statutes that, in Florida, have resulted in banned books, muzzled teachers, lost rights, vile threats against those who support freedom and travel warnings issued for those visiting the Sunshine State.

Today, the effort is playing out in terroristic threats against Target employees; an investigation of a Florida grade school teacher for showing an animated Disney film to her class; and the removal of The Hill We Climb --- a poem by Amanda Gorman which she read at Joe Biden's 2021 inauguration --- from a grade school library. That's just a sampling of some of the latest victims of DeSantis' cruel agenda during his tenure as Governor.

As California's Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom tweeted in response to Target's removal of items from its Pride Month collection under threats from the MAGA right, "Wake up America. This doesn’t stop here. You’re black? You’re Asian? You’re Jewish? You’re a woman? You’re next."

THEN, it's back to the seemingly never-ending, decades-long corruption of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and some similar, recently revealed corruption by Justice Neil Gorsuch and even Chief Justice John Roberts who, by and large, refuses to do anything about any of it.

There's an explanation for that, argues RANDALL D. ELIASON, George Washington University Law School professor and former chief of the fraud and public corruption section at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in D.C.

"Over more than two decades, the Supreme Court has gutted laws aimed at fighting corruption and at limiting the ability of the powerful to enrich public officials in a position to advance their interests. As a result, today wealthy individuals and corporations may buy political access and influence with little fear of legal consequences, either for them or for the beneficiaries of their largess," Eliason argued in a New York Times op-ed over the weekend, adding: "No wonder Justice Thomas apparently thought his behavior was no big deal."

Today, Eliason tells me, "the Court itself has contributed to a legal environment over the last twenty years, where, at least as far as the Court is concerned, many of the things that are going on are not, in fact, corrupt, because they've taken this extremely narrow view of what corruption is." Essentially, he explains, cases such as Citizens United v. FEC; United States v. Sun-Diamond Growers; Skilling v. U.S.; and McDonnell v. U.S. have all greatly narrowed the definition of corruption to largely nothing less than a very specific quid pro quo bribe where a politician promises a very specific official act in exchange for payment.

That means, as some on the Court may now see it, long-term relationships where a GOP megadonor like Harlan Crow has sponsored hundreds of thousands of dollars in undisclosed luxury travel for Thomas, or purchased his mother's house, improved it, and allowed her to live there rent-free to this day, or even paying private school tuition for Thomas' grand-nephew, is not seen as "corruption" if it wasn't in return for a specific thing. Even Thomas' wife Ginni can receive tens of thousands of dollars in payoffs by far-right activists, and it's not considered corruption.

"These long term relationships, where wealthy donors can shower a politician or a Supreme Court justice with huge gifts over years --- that's okay. At least it's not criminal, unless prosecutors can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that one particular gift was because of one particular thing they did," Eliason explains, detailing how the Court has cloistered itself into a world where all of this is somehow okay.

"The reality of corruption is usually much more subtle that that, and pervasive than that. It's a long-term 'You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours' kind of arrangement. 'I'll give you these fancy trips and gifts and things over time, and then when things happen to come up that I'm interested in, you'll do the right thing for me, and we don't even have to talk about it. We don't have to have an explicit deal, it's just an understanding between us.' That's what real-world corruption is like. But for more than twenty years, the Court has issued a series of opinions that have largely put arrangements like that --- like the arrangement between Harlan Crow and Clarence Thomas --- out of the reach of the law."

We've got a lot to discuss on these matters with Eliason today, including his suggestions for how Congress could fix this clearly broken and corrupt system, even as the Chief Justice suggests (inaccurately) that doing so would somehow be a violation of the Constitution's Separation of Powers doctrine. Ironically enough, if Congress finally does manage to legislate ethics reform for the Court and someone did challenge it as unconstitutional, guess who would get to be the final arbiter? "I wonder how they are going to rule?," quips Eliason...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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