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Latest Featured Reports | Monday, February 6, 2023
Sunday 'Full Faith and Credit' Toons
PDiddie dances on the ceiling with his latest collection of the week's best political toons...
Hunter Biden Appears to Read Newspapers, Not Classified Docs: 'BradCast' 2/2/23
Prez' son threatens legal action against RWers, seeks legal probe; Also: Omar pushes back; And, a BradCast show announcement!...
'Green News Report' 2/2/23
  w/ Brad & Desi
Big Oil's all-time record profits; Biden hits road to promote infrastructure upgrades; Banner year for billion-dollar disasters; PLUS: Biden EPA finally vetoes AK's Pebble Mine...
Recent GNRs: 1/31/23 - 1/26/23 - Archives...
Can Biden Just Ignore the Debt Limit if Repubs Refuse to Raise It?: 'BradCast' 2/1/23
Guest: Kevin Drum of Jabberwocking; Also: Prepare yourself for GOP's crash and burn 'investigations'...
'Clocks Striking Thirteen': Court Cites Orwell in Response to FL's 'Stop W.O.K.E. Act'
But DeSantis' totalitarian new law has even darker echoes, Ernest Canning explains...
Are You Okay, Chuck Todd?:
'BradCast' 1/31/23
Jordan's FBI lies called out on 'MTP'; Also: Barr's weaponization of DoJ; 'Red' state murder rates; More FL voter fraud; Sore-loser Lake violates AZ election law...
'Green News Report' 1/31/23
Torrential flooding in NZ; New wind and solar projects now cheaper than existing coal plants; 1000s of abandoned wells in PA; PLUS: Admin blocks MN wildnerness mining...
Trump's 1/6 Attny Eastman Faces CA Disbarment Charges: 'BradCast' 1/30/23
Guest: Former UT Asst. A.G. Michael Teter of 65 Project; Also: NY D.A. eyeing Trump criminal charges...
Sunday 'Bullet Points' Toons
PDiddie takes aim at the problem in this week's collection of targeted toons...
NJ 2022 Computer Mistally Means Loser Actually Won: 'BradCast' 1/26/2023
Also: 'Doomsday Clock' ticked forward; Opposing war and supporting Ukraine; And, 'Russia, please!'...
'Green News Report' 1/26/23
Spate of new studies find climate impacts escalating; Logging banned (again) in Alaskan rainforest; PLUS: 'Doomsday Clock' moved closer than ever to 'midnight'...
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: Slate's legal journalist Mark Joseph Stern; Also: Griner heading home; 'Respect for Marriage Act' to become law; Report: DoJ seeking to hold Trump in contempt in stolen docs case...
By Brad Friedman on 12/8/2022 5:54pm PT  

It could have been much worse. That seems to be the message from our guest on today's BradCast after yesterday's oral argument in the U.S. Supreme Court case that could blow up everything we know about American elections, including some 233 years of otherwise settled election laws in all 50 states. We'll hope he's right. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

But, first up today, some less ambiguous good news to kick things off. WNBA star Brittney Griner is on her way home from Russia, where she has been held as a prisoner for at least 8 months after authorities found less than a gram of cannabis oil in a vape cartridge in her suitcase. Her release comes as a swap for a notorious Russian arms dealer, but fails to include the release of Paul Whelan, an American imprisoned by Russia for nearly four years, who many hoped would also be included in the trade.

Griner's wife joined President Biden at the White House on Thursday to announce the good news, while urging the release of Whelan, whose brother praised the Administration for making "the right decision to bring Ms. Griner home, and to make the deal that was possible, rather than waiting for one that wasn’t going to happen."

Also on Thursday, more good news in D.C. as the U.S. House approved the Respect for Marriage Act (RFMA) with all Democrats voting in favor with almost 40 Republicans. Shamefully, 169 Republicans voted against recognizing the marriage rights of same-sex and interracial couples. The bill was passed by the U.S. Senate last week (also by all Democrats and opposed by the majority of Republicans) and now heads to the President's desk for his signature. Even though 2015's Obergefell ruling at the U.S. Supreme Court made marriage equality the law of the land in all 50 states, federal lawmakers determined a statutory backstop was necessary after far-right activist Justice Clarence Thomas called for reconsidering the Obergefell decision when he voted with the Court's corrupted rightwing majority to overturn Roe v. Wade earlier this year.

We're joined today by Slate's longtime legal journalist and SCOTUS expert MARK JOSEPH STERN. Last month, he responded to progressive critics of the RFMA who felt it should have gone farther to require all states to license same-sex marriages --- as Obergefell currently does --- rather than simply mandating that states legally recognize such marriages. Today, Stern breaks down his legal argument for why he believes those critics are wrong about the new, landmark federal statute and notes that, "as a progressive in a same-sex marriage, I feel like I have some skin in the game here."

But, our initial reason for booking Stern today was to discuss Moore v. Harper, the ridiculous --- if wildly dangerous --- case heard by the Supremes on Wednesday. As discussed on yesterday's show with FairVote's David Daley, who attended the oral argument, if a majority on the Court agrees with North Carolina Republican petitioners, the fallout for American elections from Moore will be "seismic".

The case argues that a fringe, so-called "Independent State Legislature" theory found in the U.S. Constitution's Elections Clause, means that only State Legislatures may craft specific state rules and laws for federal elections and may not be overruled or even reviewed by gubernatorial vetoes or state court review to ensure those laws meet requirements of state Constitutions. Even voter-approved ballot initiatives would be considered unlawful.

It would, in the case of Moore, allow North Carolina Republicans who control the gerrymandered majority in the evenly-divided state Legislature to gerrymander U.S. House districts however they like, even after the state Supreme Court determined their partisan gerrymander violated the state Constitution. By the same theory, a majority opinion in favor of the NC GOP, by the rigged 6 to 3 SCOTUS, could also allow state Legislatures to simply choose whichever Presidential Electors they preferred, even when voters voted otherwise. Yes, it's just that insane and, arguably, should never have even been heard at the High Court.

The good news today, is that, after yesterday's hearing --- when the "Court's most conservative justices got outplayed," as Stern reported at Slate --- he now believes the worst-case scenario is far less inevitable. "Those of us who’ve been ringing the alarm over this dangerous theory --- and who've been disgusted by the campaign to drag it from the far-right fringe all the way to the Supreme Court --- can take solace that these capable lawyers exposed [the Independent State Legislature theory] as an utter fraud," he wrote last night.

"Even though we have a ton of rules in every single state's Constitution that have been enforced for 230+ years, this theory says that all of those are invalid, we've been doing it wrong the whole time," Stern told me today, adding that he "heard maybe two votes for that position" during oral argument on Wednesday.

"But then, once you get into the more compromise positions, it gets harder to gauge," he warns. "I don't think the Court is going to totally cut out state Constitutions and state statutes from federal elections. I don't think that the Court is going to go as far as Republicans want. I think that there's a chance that the Court could issue a decision that is bad but not catastrophic, that essentially says that, as a general principle, state courts can regulate elections, but that federal courts get to double-check their work and decide if they got it wrong."

"But we have to be, when this decision comes down, really vigilant about drawing any conclusions before we figure out exactly where they land." If Federal courts can review state court rulings that are regarded as "egregious," Stern says he could live with that. But if they allow state courts only "mild deference," he explains, "that's no good, because that is really not how we do things in this country. State courts have the final say over the meaning of state law in almost all circumstances. And if we take that away, then it is just empowering this conservative super-majority on SCOTUS to decide all these cases in favor of Republicans."

Given the ridiculous basis for the Independent State Legislature theory --- that we've been doing it all wrong for more than 230 years since the nation's founding, but nobody noticed until now --- there would be hundreds of election laws in all 50 states that could then be challenged in federal courts. It's all somewhat ironic given that this fringe interpretation of the Elections Clause was, itself, built on "a fraudulent document that purported to be an account of the Constitutional Convention" that, as early as the 1800's, was described as "fake" by James Madison, "who actually did write the definitive account of the Constitutional Convention," notes Stern.

Much more on all of that today and, before he leaves, a quick explanation of how "stupid" the case heard earlier this week by SCOTUS regarding a web designer in Colorado who refuses to design a website for same-sex marriages actually is. Hint: She "has never been asked by any couple, gay or straight, to make a wedding website for them. Yet she sued before anyone could ask her, and argued that Colorado's civil rights law was infringing on her freedom of speech."

Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen for our latest Green News Report with both good and bad news, as per usual, when news broke late from CNN that, according to their sources, the U.S. Dept. of Justice has asked a federal judge to hold Donald Trump in contempt for failing to comply with a subpoena ordering him over the summer to turn over classified records he stolen upon leaving the White House.

It turns out that it may have been an even better day today than we originally thought...

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Guest: FairVote's David Daley on 'bonkers' Independent State Legislature theory's 'seismic consequences' as weighed by our corrupt High Court...
By Brad Friedman on 12/7/2022 6:19pm PT  

Democracy had a good night in Georgia on Tuesday night, before facing a brand-new nightmare by Wednesday morning at the far-right U.S. Supreme Court. We cover both on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

The final votes of the 2022 midterms have at last been cast --- though some counting and recounting remains --- and Georgia's Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock has been re-elected to his first full 6-year term in the U.S. Senate. His apparent defeat of Herschel Walker, loser Donald Trump's personally selected candidate in Tuesday's runoff election in the Peach State, caps a string of contests that the GOP arguably could have or should have won across the country in a midterm year like this one. But they chose to go with the far-right, loony-tunes candidates preferred by the disgraced former President instead.

After picking up a Senate seat this year, Democrats are set to hold an outright 51 to 49 majority in the upper chamber beginning in January, even as they narrowly lost their majority in the U.S. House. We discuss what all of that is likely to mean and review several remarkable historic milestones for Democrats in this year's anything-but-red-wave midterms.

After a late night of celebration, it was an early morning of worry, as the U.S. Supreme Court heard Moore v. Harper. We have long warned of the dangers of this case for American elections as we know them. The dispute comes from a challenge filed by North Carolina Republicans after the state's Supreme Court nixed partisan U.S. House maps gerrymandered by the state's GOP legislature. The state court ordered new, fair maps to be drawn instead for 2022, when Republicans and Democrats would evenly split the state's 14 House Districts, winning seven seats each in the closely divided state.

But state Republicans sued, arguing a novel, never-before-approved-by-SCOTUS legal theory they've recently discovered in the U.S. Constitution's Elections Clause called the "Independent State Legislature" theory. They argue that the Constitution mandates that state laws regarding federal elections may be created only by state Legislatures and that no judicial review by state courts is allowable.

That means, as argued in Moore, that partisan-gerrymandered Legislatures may create election laws that cannot be vetoed by Governors or overruled by state courts or constitutions. The theory holds that even voter-approved ballot initiatives could suddenly be found unlawful and those same state legislative bodies could also select whoever they wish to be Presidential Electors no matter who state voters actually selected. It is just that insane. But it's actually in front of a corrupted, stolen and packed right-wing SCOTUS on which a radical majority may offer its blessing.

"The blast radius from their theory would sow elections chaos," warned former acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal, one of the three attorneys who argued on behalf of respondents to NC's Republican petitioners, "forcing a confusing two track system with one set of rules for federal elections and another for state ones" with "case after case" being brought before SCOTUS challenging long-established election laws in all 50 states as adopted over the past 233 years.

Gerrymandering expert and author DAVID DALEY of FairVote was in the Courtroom to witness the proceedings at SCOTUS Wednesday morning and joined us this afternoon from the U.S. Capitol to help unpack it all.

"The consequences for this case are seismic," Daley warns. "This is yet another case that could shake the very foundation of our democracy if the court were to find that state legislatures face no constraints, either from a Governor's veto or from a state constitution, or the state Supreme Court, in how they create election law, how they certify elections, how they draw redistricting maps. It would give these state Legislatures complete, unfettered power to effectively do as they will. And that is a terrifying prospect."

We discuss what he describes as the "bonkers" ISL theory and whether, as AP argued today in its coverage, Daley agrees that there were "at least six Supreme Court justices" who "sound skeptical of making a broad ruling that would leave state legislatures virtually unchecked when making rules for elections for Congress and the presidency."

Says Daley, based on what he witnessed at the High Court this morning: "I would say that there were three Justices who were opposed --- the three liberals, Jackson, Sotomayor and Kagan. There were three who seemed very much on board in Thomas, Gorsuch and Alito. And there were three that I would define not as 'skeptical' but as 'Independent State Legislature-curious'. And I don't think they were looking for a way to knock a bonkers theory down."

Tune in for much more on today's program...

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Guest: Theeda Murphy of No Exceptions Prison Collective; Also: Corrupt SCOTUS helps Trump on tax returns, Graham on GA testimony...
By Brad Friedman on 11/1/2022 6:01pm PT  

We've been discussing for weeks (months, actually) on The BradCast how critical the November 8 midterm elections are to American democracy itself. I've even referred to it as the most critical midterms since the Civil War. Until recently, however, I had no idea how on the money that comparison actually is. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

In five states this year --- from so-called "red" states like Alabama, Louisiana and Tennessee to the theoretically liberal bastions of Oregon and Vermont --- slavery itself will be on the ballot. Seriously. Or, at least "involuntary servitude". What's the difference between that and slavery? Even our guest today, an expert on such issues, has trouble discerning that.

The U.S. Constitution's 13th Amendment, adopted in 1865 to end slavery, reads [emphasis added]: "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction."

In other words, slavery was abolished --- except for prisoners, who may be forced into involuntary servitude as part of their punishment. It's a not-accidental loophole, you'll be shocked to learn, that has been disproportionately exercised historically against Black Americans.

In 2020, however, several Democratic members of Congress introduced a resolution to begin amending that part of the 13th Amendment. But changing the U.S. Constitution is a heavy lift that requires passage by two-thirds of each chamber of Congress and approval by three-fourths of the states. In the meantime, there are the exact same or very similar references to involuntary servitude --- or even slavery itself --- still present in a number of state Constitutions and/or statutes. And, this year, there are ballot initiatives in the five states mentioned above to finally change or remove those references entirely.

So, yeah. Ending slavery, at least in some state constitutions, at least for prisoners, is actually on this year's ballot as well.

We're joined today for insight by THEEDA MURPHY, Co-Director of the No Exceptions Prison Collective, a non-profit, grassroots initiative based in Nashville, TN, dedicated to, among other things, aboloshing slavery!

"Any type of forced labor is slavery. Period. And should not exist in the United States in 2022," Murphy explains, stating what one would think should be obvious. Surprisingly, it isn't. There are elected officials --- both Democratic and Republican --- who have offered various reasons to oppose such initiatives to rewrite the 13th Amendment and the state-based provisions which echo it. Most of their reasons have to do with assuring that cheap prison labor can continue, a $500 billion industry where the average pay is $1/hour. (Though that is, somehow, not considered slavery!)

Over the past two elections, in 2018 and 2020, three states, Colorado, Nebraska and Utah, adopted measures to ban involuntary servitude. A recent effort here in California failed to make it onto the ballot this year. But the hope of advocates like Murphy is that, with reform at the state level, interest may grow in a federal Constitutional amendment that finally ends what is known as the "Punishment Clause" or the "Exception Clause'. But there are other reasons to adopt such measures as well.

States where similar changes have been made, explains Murphy, "are beginning to have these discussions about what does it mean to now have people that cannot be treated like property, that the state no longer owns, and what that means for every aspect of a person who is incarcerated. Can you deny them healthcare? What kind of food do you feed them? Do you charge them for their clothes? Those are the kinds of questions that begin to be answered, or to be asked, because people are no longer property."

Murphy says that in her home-state of Tennessee, internal polling shows both Democrats and Republicans are "united" on the ballot measure this year. "Nobody is FOR slavery," she quips. "Nobody at least will come out and SAY they're for it."

Hey! Maybe we found at least one issue that doesn't divide Americans? We'll find out after next Tuesday.

In other noteworthy news today...

  • After nearly four years of House Democrats attempting to exercise the federal law that mandates the IRS "shall furnish" the tax returns of any taxpayer to the heads of several Congressional committees upon request, Donald Trump is running out of legal (and illegal) options to block the Democratic-controlled House Ways and Means Committee from reviewing his tax documents. But, after the federal appeals court in D.C. unanimously said last week that the IRS must turn them over, Trump filed an emergency appeal to his stolen, packed and corrupted Supreme Court. Today, Chief Justice John Roberts placed a temporary administrative hold on the lower court's order, buying Trump at least 10 days while the House responds to the disgraced former President's motion. But now, every day counts, with the possibility of Democrats losing their majority at the beginning of next year, when Republicans will almost certainly drop the House request. The clock is ticking.
  • In somewhat brighter related news, after a similar administrative hold by the corrupt Justice Clarence Thomas last week, the Supremes have decided that Trump ally Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) must sit for a deposition with the Special Grand Jury created by Fulton County, Georgia District Attorney Fani Willis, in her investigation of the Trump-led conspiracy to steal the 2020 election in the Peach State. SCOTUS, however, has left open some doors for Graham to return to district court if he believes any of the questions he's asked violate his right to not answer questions related to his legislative activity as a Senator under the Constitution's Speech and Debate Clause.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with a bit of bona fide good news --- in several different stories, in fact --- to wrap up today's program...

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Rare brief submitted to SCOTUS by top state judges underscores how American democracy is, itself, on the ballot this November...
UPDATE 10/14/22: 2nd GOP petition seeks to overturn OH Supreme Court redistricting ruling based in 'Independent State Legislature' Theory...
By Ernest A. Canning on 10/12/2022 11:05am PT  

A no-uncertain-terms brief [PDF] submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court by all 50 state Supreme Court Chief Justices eviscerated the so-called "Independent State Legislature" (ISL) theory being pushed by far-right legal activists.

Their rare decision to file an amicus curiae (friend of the court) SCOTUS brief reflects the unanimous recognition by all of the nation's State Chief Justices that the fringe ISL "legal" theory is so dangerous that, if it were to be embraced by a majority on our nation's highest federal court, it could hasten an end to our Constitutional democracy. And that is not hyperbole.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court, now dominated by six unelected "radicals in robes", granted review in Moore v. Harper, a case brought to SCOTUS by North Carolina's Republican-controlled State Legislature after their partisan gerrymandered Congressional redistricting plan was struck down by their state's Supreme Court on the grounds that it violated NC's Constitution.

Ironically, Tar Heel State Republicans owe their own control of the General Assembly to partisan gerrymandering. When Democratic Governor Roy Cooper was reelected in 2020, he defeated his Republican opponent 51.5% to 47% statewide, yet GOPers were able to retain control of 56% of NC Senate seats and 57.5% of the House thanks to extremely partisan state district maps.

In Moore the NC Republican petitioners to SCOTUS rely upon the same ISL theory advanced by disgraced former Chapman Univ. Law Professor John Eastman as part of Team Trump's effort to steal the 2020 Presidential election.

Their argument is that, absent a federal law to the contrary, a State legislature has a plenary right to engage in what NYU's Brennan Center for Justice describes as "deeply undemocratic" partisan gerrymandering of Congressional Districts. They contend that, when it comes to laws regarding federal elections, state legislatures may not be constrained by a state's constitution as interpreted by its state courts.

In their brief, the 50 State Chief Justices argue that the ISL, as advanced by NC Republicans, does violence to the meaning of the word "Legislature" as envisioned by the framers and as it appears in the U.S. Constitution's Elections Clause (Article 1, Section 4), which provides that the "Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations."

Embrace of the ISL theory by a SCOTUS majority in Moore could similarly result in approval of Eastman's radical theory that state legislatures enjoy a Constitutional right to override the will of state voters to choose electors in the next Presidential election. It all underscores President Joe Biden's recent assessment that, come November, "democracy will be on the ballot"...

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




Guest: Dan Vicuña of Common Cause; Also: Walker revelations prove GOP doesn't care about abortion or think it's 'murder'; Another court loss for Trump in stolen docs case...
By Brad Friedman on 10/5/2022 6:32pm PT  

What's left of the Voting Rights Act is in danger yet again, thanks to the Republicans' stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court majority. But this time, as we report on today's BradCast, the VRA has a new champion on the Court who seems to know how to speak in terms that even corrupt GOP Justices may have a difficult time ignoring. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

First up today, however, the continuing fallout from Monday's Daily Beast exclusive revealing that Georgia's Republican U.S. Senate nominee and accomplished liar, Hershel Walker, urged a girlfriend to have an abortion in 2009 and paid for the procedure himself. That, despite Walker's staunchly "pro-life" claims and campaign opposition to any and all abortions without exception, even in cases of rape, incest and the life of the mother.

The blockbuster story has rocked GOP hopes of flipping the Peach State Senate seat currently occupied by Democratic Sen. Rev. Raphael Warnock from "blue" to "red" in November and, if true (Walker "flat out" denies the allegations) reveals the former football pro to be an extraordinary hypocrite. More staggering than that, however, is the hypocrisy currently on display by Republican leaders who are standing behind Walker despite the well-documented reporting, revealing that they never actually gave a damn about abortion in the first place. As MSNBC's Chris Hayes correctly observed on Twitter: "I just want to be clear that in the moral cosmology of Herschel Walker and Republicans the accusation is that he paid to have his child murdered."

No worries! According to new reporting, Republicans knew about the allegations long ago and just hoped they wouldn't come to light before November. But now that it has, as we detail today, longtime GOP leaders, pundits and media influencers --- who have long claimed to be "family values" "conservatives" who believe abortion is "murder" --- have come up with all sorts of ways to justify their continued support of Walker because they believe they need him to win back a Senate majority next month.

Next: As detailed on yesterday's program, Ketanji Brown Jackson, the U.S. Supreme Court's newest Justice, made a splash during the Court's first day of oral argument in the new term on Monday, in her response to a rightwing challenge to the EPA's authority to regulate water under the Clean Water Act. On Tuesday, KBJ was spectacular once again during a rightwing challenge to provisions barring racial discrimination in voting under the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965.

KBJ may have out-foxed fellow SCOTUS colleagues in her defense of the VRA, using an "originalist" defense for consideration of race in voting laws. We share the heart of her brilliant argument today, in detailing the Alabama case before the Court. Merrill v. Milligan challenges a unanimous appeals court ruling that the state's Republican legislature violated the Constitution and Section 2 of the VRA by creating just one Congressional District out of seven in the state, in which black voters would be able to select a candidate of their choosing following 2020 Census redistricting. That, despite the fact that more than a quarter of the state's population is black.

The Court of Appeals ordered AL to create a second majority-minority Congressional District in time for the 2022 elections. Instead, state Republicans challenged the ruling at SCOTUS, which, in February, put the lower court's ruling on hold until they could hear the case. (They also blocked a similar ruling in Louisiana, where state lawmakers were also ordered to create a second majority black Congressional District.)

In February, after the dubious SCOTUS ruling that would essentially steal a Congressional seat in AL (and in LA) for Republicans in the 2022 elections, we were joined to discuss it by DAN VICUÑA, longtime National Redistricting Manager at Common Cause. He joins us again today to discuss Tuesday's hearing at SCOTUS; KBJ's ingenious defense of "race conscious" Congressional map-making in response to AL's claim that redistricting should be "race neutral" despite mandates of the VRA and the Civil War's reconstructionist Constitutional Amendments that it is meant to enforce; and what the various potential rulings by the Court's corrupt, far-right super-majority may mean for the future of what is left of the VRA.

"What Alabama is seeking is a fairly radical change to the law and current Supreme Court jurisprudence," Vicuña explains. "It's essentially asking the court to allow a 'race-neutral' drawing of districts. And, as long as you are 'race neutral', it doesn't really matter if a community of color [is] allowed to elect their candidate of choice. They're basically saying the black community in Alabama could have no districts in which they elect their candidate of choice unless it was drawn in a so-called 'race neutral' way. It's a huge change, and I think Justice Jackson was rightfully pushing back in a forceful manner on what would be a significant change and blow to voting rights."

In her argument during Tuesday's hearing, Jackson went back to what the original framers of the Reconstruction-era 14th and 15th Amendments argued at the time of their adoption. And it appears to be the opposite of what AL is now arguing in court. In recent years, Republicans have claimed to support a so-called "originalist" legal theory when determining the Constitutionality of various laws. But now that KBJ has handed them such a theory for defending the VRA, it will be interesting to see if she helps to peel off enough rightwing Justices to stave off this latest attack on the nation's critical voter protection law.

Finally today, there was another procedural win handed down to the Dept. of Justice from the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in the criminal investigation of Donald Trump's theft of thousands of documents retrieved by the FBI from Mar-a-Lago in August...

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Tiny Delaware's huge mistake; Graham's nationwide abortion ban bill; Also: Franken on the illegitimacy of our U.S. Supreme Court...
By Brad Friedman on 9/13/2022 6:18pm PT  

The three states carrying out the final midterm primary elections of the year on Tuesday offer a great side-by-side comparison of voting systems on today's BradCast, from the very best to the very worst in the nation. Also, Sen. Lindsey Graham offers an example of the GOP's very worst politics, even as it is likely to work out for the very best for Democrats. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

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

  • Why Delaware's so-called "hybrid" Ballot Marking Device (BMD) system made by ES&S and forced on all voters in the state at the polls, places the tiny state in contention for having the very worst voting systems in the country. You'd think they would realize that a 100% unverifiable touchscreen system that prints voters' selections on a paper ballot for them is already a terrible idea. But one that allows the computer to secretly reprint a voter's ballot --- allowing it to add, change or delete votes --- after voters think they've already approved their computer-marked ballot, is unspeakable stupid. That said, the system's "Permission to Cheat" feature is arguably even worse.
  • Contrast DE's voting system with New Hampshire and Rhode Island's fully verifiable hand-marked paper ballot system. They, along with DE are also holding primaries today. But in about 40% of NH towns, they go even further in respecting voters by hand-counting all hand-marked paper ballots at the polling place, in public, as soon as polls close and before ballots are moved anywhere. That would be Democracy's Gold Standard. RI, in the meantime, tallies all ballots by computer, but at least (unlike in DE), they're hand-marked ballots, so can be known to reflect the intent of the voters. Well, most of them, anyway. As discovered during the early voting period in four towns, candidates from 2018 appeared on the 2022 touchscreen ballots for some voters who chose to use the state's new BMD systems, made available at the polls for optional use by disabled voters.
  • Next, a follow-up to our conversation last week with Marilyn Marks, Executive Director of the Coalition for Good Governance, which is suing Georgia and its Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger, hoping to ban the state's 100% unverifiable touchscreen BMD voting systems in favor of hand-marked paper ballots. Marks was on the show to discuss the security camera surveillance video she unearthed in her federal lawsuit last week, revealing a bunch of Team Trump MAGA Republicans being allowed in to the Coffee County, GA election office last year to unlawfully breach the state's Election Management System software made by Dominion. The breach, as we discussed, was covered-up by Raffensperger, even though the Trumpers copied, stole and shared the critical software with others. That makes the 2022 and 2024 elections in the state (and elsewhere, where the same systems are used) uniquely vulnerable to malware and manipulation, given that Coffee County's system is connected to the state system, which programs all of the identical systems that Raffensperger forces every county in the state to use.

    Shortly after Marks' appearance on the show last week, a hearing was held in her federal lawsuit, and the judge inquired as to how the Coffee County breach relates to the plaintiffs' complaint. One of their attorneys, David Cross, gave a brilliant explanation in response (see transcript here, beginning on page 4), ending his remarks on the matter with a fantastic metaphor: "If we're going on a skydiving trip and we saw a bunch of bad actors unpack our parachutes, take them all apart, and then repack them and put them back and we learned that when we were on an airplane and if the pilot said to you, it is probably fine, your parachute is probably fine, just go ahead and jump and we'll find out when you're in the air, no one would jump out of that plane.

    "That is where we are," Cross added. "It is not an exaggeration. We have lots of people who are widely considered bad actors because of the lies that they spread about the 2020 election who had unmitigated access to the election system --- not pieces, not disconnected pieces --- the actual system in practice for the better part of two weeks. And we don't know what all they did. But we do know what they could have done. And it is not satisfactory to tell voters, 'Let's just hope the system works, and we have begun an investigation in the last couple of weeks, let's hope that that doesn't find that the system doesn't work.' That, Your Honor, we don't think is an appropriate way to proceed. And that is why this is so critically important for our claims."

  • In what ought to win an award for worst, most tin-ear politics of the century, so far, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) introduced a bill today to ban abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy in all 50 states. States that wish to go further, however, by banning abortions all together, are more than welcome to do so under his nationwide bill. So, this measure --- deceptively being sold by Graham as a "late-term" abortion --- would largely only affect "blue" states where privacy rights and reproductive freedoms are still respected. The bill, which Graham's own Republican Party is already furious about, comes after the GOP's corrupted, stolen and packed (with Graham's help) U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June and just weeks after Graham previously said he believes "states should decide the issue of abortion." Turns out that was just another pathetic lie from one of the nation's most pathetic U.S. Senators.
  • Speaking of the corrupted U.S. Supreme Court (and tin-ears), Chief Justice John Roberts offered his first public remarks last Friday since his Court overturned Roe. He blasted those who question the legitimacy of the Court because they disagree with its decisions. "Simply because people disagree with an opinion is not a basis for criticizing the legitimacy of the Court," the Chief Justice said, completely missing the point. Over the weekend, the much-missed former Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) appeared on CNN to debate Roberts' remarks with GOP strategist April Stewart. As you'll hear, it did not go well for Stewart.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as a hurricane finally ends California's record heat wave; reactors are finally shut down at Ukraine's besieged nuclear power plant; a showdown finally looms in Congress over energy permitting; and a climate champion finally ascends to become King of Britain...

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Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern on that and much more on the final day of the corrupt rightwing Supreme Court's unprecedented term...
By Brad Friedman on 6/30/2022 6:23pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It was the grand finale at the end of a U.S. Supreme Court term like no other. Now that its packed with rightwing extremists, the unleashed activists on the GOP's illegitimate 6 to 3 U.S. Supreme Court pretended on Thursday that the text of the written law doesn't say what it actually says, in order to offer a parting gift for the year to the fossil fuel industry --- as the nation and globe burn.

The Clean Air Act, as Justice Elena Kagan wrote [PDF] on behalf of the three dissenters, "directs the EPA to regulate stationary sources of any substance that 'causes, or contributes significantly to, air pollution' and that 'may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare.'" She made clear that, as the Court has determined on multiple occasions, the Environmental Protection Agency "serves as the Nation's 'primary regulator of greenhouse gas emissions.'"

But, never mind all of that. On Thursday, writing for the Court's far-right majority in West Virginia v. EPA --- and ignoring its own precedents --- Chief Justice John Roberts pretended none of those mandates existed in the law adopted by Congress in 1963 and amended a number of times over the years. Despite any actual existing Administrative rule to regulate carbon emissions by coal and gas-fired power plants --- Barack Obama's Clean Power Plan was put on hold by the Court years ago, and Donald Trump's scheme to restrict the EPA's power to do so was rejected by lower courts --- SCOTUS took up this coal-industry sponsored law suit and gave them pretty much everything they sought, text of the written law be damned.

As they did when striking down the Administration's vaccine-or-test mandate, the Court once again invoked their newly invented "Major Questions" doctrine in order to declare that any issue that may be controversial in any way may not be decided by the scientists and experts at the federal agencies created to handle such things. Instead, they must be specifically directed, by Congress, to do so. Because the Clean Air Act, which tasks the EPA with regulating dangerous pollutants --- such as carbon released by coal-fired power plants, currently exacerbating our deadly climate crisis --- doesn't actually cite "carbon" specifically, the Trump/McConnell/Roberts Court has now declared the federal agency may take no action to help reduce it. Never mind their own previous findings and, of course, the number of Americans who will die because of this ruling.

The opinion was as predictable as it is corrupt. We're joined today by the great MARK JOSEPH STERN, legal journalist and Constitutional law expert at Slate, to discuss the opinion that will not only limit the EPA from doing the job it has already been tasked with by Congress, but prevent many other federal agencies from carrying out their mandates as well. It's all part of the corporate rightwing's long "war on the Administrative State". And it's a war they are now winning --- and we are all losing.

"Massachusetts v. EPA held that the federal government must --- not can, but must --- regulate and limit carbon emissions in the United States because carbon is a pollutant under the Clean Air Act, and thus the EPA has a legal obligation to institute guidelines that reduce the level of greenhouse gases the US is emitting," Stern emphasizes, noting that today's opinion in West Virginia v. EPA "involves a regulation that does not exist."

Nonetheless, "the Supreme Court decided to take it up just to stop Joe Biden from trying" to regulate the greenhouse emissions now warming our planet at an alarming rate. "The Supreme Court," Stern adds, "decided to simply slap limitations on [the Clean Air Act] that do not exist in the text because they do not like it as a matter of policy."

As to the so-called "Major Questions" doctrine, argues Stern, "It's hard to define, because it is made up." It's not in the Constitution and, as far as he can tell, "it comes from Brett Kavanaugh's brain. This was his idea when he was on the lower court, to try to smuggle in a kind of anti-regulatory agenda into what looks like statutory interpretation."

"The basic idea is that if an agency tries to take some kind of very consequential action, that has a serious and vast impact on the people, or the economy, or private industry, then that is a 'major question', and the Congress has to give the Agency an extremely granular and explicit permission slip to do what it wants to do, otherwise the courts will block it. The problem with this test that should be clear, is that it is totally subjective. What looks like a major question to you may look like a frivolous question to me, and it really shifts policy-making over to unelected judges from experts in federal agencies."

Of course, this is just one of the many reasons I don't refer to these people as "conservatives". They don't merely interpret the law and the Constitution, as they claim. They make shit up to justify their politics. They are the "activists legislating from the bench" that Republicans pretend to oppose --- when they are trying to block Democratic appointees from positions on the bench.

There is much more today from the wise and colorful Mr. Stern, on this matter; on a separate (largely good news) ruling from the Court today on immigration policy; on the Court's opinion last week that begins to gut the famous Miranda Rights (the right to remain silent, to an attorney, etc.) for people who are detained by law enforcement (a "sleeper case" overlooked because it came on the same day that the Court overturned Roe v. Wade); on what will or can happen once the illegitimacy of this Court becomes clear to all; and on Justice Stephen Breyer's last day on the Court today before Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson was sworn in as its first-ever black female jurist.

As if that's not enough, a ruling this week by SCOTUS overturned a lower federal court that found Louisiana's newly gerrymandered Congressional District map to be an unconstitutional violation of the Voting Rights Act. The lower court ordered another black majority District to be created, as state Republicans had only one among six, in a state where one-third of population is black. The ruling was similar to another in Alabama, which SCOTUS also struck down recently, ordering both states to use the gerrymandered and unconstitutional House maps drawn by Republicans for this year's critical 2022 midterm elections.

Does this signal the Court intends to overturn the entirety of the landmark Voting Rights Act, as they did with Roe? "Yes," Stern answers, before explaining how "really, they've already done it."

And then there's the new case that SCOTUS announced today they will take up in their next term, as their destruction continues. It's an election case out of North Carolina to allow the Court to create another pretend legal notion that the Right calls the "Independent State Legislature" Doctrine.

"I am terrified about this case," Stern says, as it will almost certainly be decided to allow "state legislatures to appoint electors in the Electoral College to the losing candidate in a Presidential race. Which is exactly what Donald Trump wanted them to do in 2020, and what Ginni Thomas was urging legislators to do while her husband was trying to institute this theory."

"The American people are in deep, deep, DEEP trouble," he warns.

Please "enjoy" today's program!...

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Packed Court of radical, activist GOP Justices invent imaginary 'historical' reasons to cancel reproductive freedoms, personal privacy rights, gun safety laws; Also: Many more well-established Constitutional rights now in peril; Biden, Pelosi respond; Voting remains the answer...
By Brad Friedman on 6/24/2022 6:29pm PT  

On a dark and historic day in America (and, apparently, on The BradCast), I offer a few thoughts on how unelected, radical, extremist, activists Justices (who are not "conservative" by any stretch of the imagination, please stop calling them that), who have been packed onto a stolen U.S. Supreme Court majority have only just begun the corrupt work for which their lifetime seats on the High Court were purchased. [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

On Thursday, the illegitimate Republican majority simply ignored the written text of the 2nd Amendment's mandate to "well regulate" the right to bear arms by cancelling [PDF] New York's century-old law limiting the concealed carrying of weapons in public, robbing elected state officials of their right to protect their citizenry from gun violence.

Then, on Friday, after declaring in their gun ruling that officials elected by the voters have no right to well regulate firearms, the same corrupt Justices cancelled [PDF] a half century of well-established Constitutional rights to personal privacy and reproductive freedom. The rightwing Court extremists declared that states and, indeed, the federal government, do have the right to force women to bear the child of their rapist --- even as the product of incest or sex trafficking.

In overturning 1973's Roe v. Wade (the landmark 7 to 2 majority opinion written by a non-corrupt Republican-appointed Justice), Sam Alito echoed Clarence Thomas' gun ruling one day earlier by pretending that any specific rights not in existence 233 years ago, when the Bill of Rights was written, lacks the "historical tradition" to be considered a Constitutionally-protected right. (Never mind that whole "well regulated" mandate of the 2nd Amendment which is, as it turns out, literally in the Bill of Rights.)

Neither Thomas' newly divined "historical tradition" requirement for Constitutional rights or Alito's "historical understanding of ordered liberty", are made up out of whole cloth. The concept appears nowhere in the Constitution, which actual, if uncorrupted, conservative legal experts know very well.

As horrible as all of this is, it will only get worse until the corrupt Court is unpacked and expanded to reflect the actual will of the American electorate. The Court's rulings on abortion and on gun safety are opposed by huge, bipartisan majorities.

In a separate opinion on Roe, Thomas --- arguably the Court's most corrupt Justice --- called for the Court to cancel other long-standing Constitutional rights established under the same 14th Amendment privacy rights which the Court has now dismantled in cancelling Roe. "We have a duty to 'correct the error'" by reversing the landmark opinions that established Constitutional rights to contraception, same-sex intimacy and marriage...though not inter-racial marriage for reasons that the inter-racially married Thomas failed to explain.

We share both President Biden and House Speaker Pelosi's responses to today's historically corrupt ruling, as they vow that the fight for Constitutional freedoms is not over and call on Americans to make their voices heard in response this November.

"Today the Supreme Court of the United States expressly took away a Constitutional right from the American people that it had already recognized," the President said. "They didn't limit it, they simply took it away. That's never been done to a right so important to so many Americans. But they did it."

"This fall," he later emphasized, "Roe is on the ballot. Personal freedoms are on the ballot. The right to privacy, liberty, equality --- they're all on the ballot."

They are indeed.

After plenty more on all of the above, we conclude today with our latest Green News Report, most topics of which are also on the ballot this November. Please prepare your voting plans now...

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Guest: Legal journalist Mark Joseph Stern; Also: Republicans move quickly to protect the families of SCOTUS Justices, but not yours...
By Brad Friedman on 6/14/2022 5:57pm PT  

For years, as I told my guest on today's BradCast, I've wondered if we were being too alarmist during his many appearances on the show. But now I'm starting to wonder if we haven't been alarmist enough. "I would say that you and I have been the exact right amount of alarmist," he tells me in response. "Time and time again, the Court has proved that it is going rogue, that it is lawless, that it is really corrupted by partisan politics." If the nation hasn't noticed by now, it is likely about to. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Before we get to that cheery conversation, a couple of quick news items today, as voters in Maine, Nevada, North Dakota and South Carolina headed to polls on Tuesday for critical mid-term elections. (Also in Texas, where there is a special election to fill a vacated Democratic U.S. House seat.) Results of note on tomorrow's program.

Wednesday's scheduled hearing in the U.S. House Select Committee investigating the January 6 insurrection and related Donald Trump crimes has been postponed until, presumably, next week. The Wednesday hearing had been set to focus on Trump's failed effort to decapitate the Dept. of Justice in order to install a low-level flunky with a scheme to help him steal the 2020 election by lying to state legislatures that the DoJ had found massive fraud in swing-states. Committee members claim the delayed hearing is only due to a need to give time to their over-worked understaffed video crew. Meanwhile, Thursday's scheduled hearing, focused on the pressure Trump placed on Vice President Pence to help steal the election for him on January 6, is still said to be on track.

In Congress today, the House passed a bill previously adopted by the U.S. Senate to extend security protections to family members of Supreme Court Justices. It's remarkable how quickly Republicans can act to pass laws to protect certain people that they give a damn about from gun violence. Every other family in America is on their own apparently. Best of luck.

And, speaking of SCOTUS, as their term comes to a close over the next two weeks, we catch up with the great MARK JOSEPH STERN, legal journalist and Supreme Court expert at Slate.com, on a whole passel of recent and coming-soon opinions that are currently shaking and set to shake the American legal and judicial system to its core

The outlook, as suggested by my opening graf above, is not encouraging. "I don't know what to tell you except that madness is coming," warns Stern. Tune in for real facts and hard truths about what is coming. But, by way of preview of some of the cases and issues discussed today...

  • The tragic case of Terence Andrus, soon to be put to death, and what could represent the end of the Sixth Amendment's guarantee of competent legal representation, particularly in death penalty cases. Perhaps even more astounding, the Court's ruling on Monday directly contradicts their own ruling on the very same case in 2020 when, just two years ago, they sent the matter back down to the Texas State Court, which has since apparently decided that they needn't follow SCOTUS orders. And now, incredibly, with the loss of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the addition of Justice Amy Coney Barrett, SCOTUS agrees! "There can be no 'settled law' when SCOTUS lets rogue judges flout its own rulings and get away with it," Stern wrote in his coverage on Monday. Today he warns that with the Supreme Court failing to enforce its own precedents, "it really does send this message, a kind of wink and a nod, to lower courts that they can start defying these disfavored precedents, start nullifying these disfavored Constitutional rights, and get away with it. And that is a scary new phase."
  • The coming-soon overturning of Roe v. Wade. We haven't spoken to Stern since the unprecedented leak of a draft opinion by the GOP's corrupt, packed and stolen majority which is set to end 50 years of Constitutional freedoms and privacy rights established by the landmark 1973 opinion. He explains that the Court has since cracked down on all such leaks, but that even in a best-case scenario where the final opinion is somewhat softened, the ruling is certain to be "tragic". Moreover, he warns that overturning the privacy rights of Roe will "cast a lot of doubt on decisions protecting the right to privacy --- for gay people, for interracial couples, for people who use contraception --- and lower courts will seize upon that language and use it to start overturning those rights." That is just one reason why the Andrus ruling described above is so wildly dangerous.
  • Ending local government's right to protect residents from gun violence. The Court is set to issue its opinion on a challenge to New York's more-than-100-year old requirement that those seeking to carry concealed firearms apply for a special permit to do so. As soon as next week, despite the Second Amendment's mandate that the right to bear arms should be "well-regulated," the NY law is likely to be struck down by SCOTUS. "We should expect the Supreme Court to declare that there is a Second Amendment right, in every state in the country, to carry a concealed weapon in public spaces, even if you have no particularly good reason to want one. And that right cannot be infringed without a very strong interest from the government, which the Court will then explain does not really exist. And, in doing so, will unleash, I think, a wave of violence --- in states like California and New York that have pretty strict limits on concealed carry --- that will be attributable to the Supreme Court," Stern predicts. "But of course the Court will be in its own palace, surrounded by guards and fences, and the Justices will not have to face the lethal consequences of their own ruling."
  • West Virginia v. EPA The courts, long ago, placed a stay on President Obama's Clean Power Plan, which would have incentivized the transition from polluting coal-fired power plants to clean, renewable energy production. Then those regulations were replaced entirely by Trump's energy plan. And now, despite absolutely nobody required to follow the Obama EPA's regulations on this, the corrupted SCOTUS decided to take up WV's original challenge to the Obama plan. "This case is incredibly bizarre," Stern rails. "Because right now there is no rule --- I repeat, no rule --- no regulation, that is limiting carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants. None. And yet, the Supreme Court is deciding whether the Biden Administration can issue a rule limiting carbon emissions. You might be asking how could it possibly be that the Supreme Court will rule on a regulation that does not yet exist, that may in fact never exist? The answer is that the usual rules about actually taking a live controversy do not seem to apply when the conservative super-majority really wants to kneecap the Biden Administration's regulatory agenda. So, even though the Court has nothing to strike down, it will almost certainly issue a decision purporting to strike down a regulation that doesn't even exist."

As to what Stern has to say about some cases that the Court is likely to pick up for its next term, particularly on something called the Independent State Legislature doctrine --- which doesn't actually exist either, but may very well soon, and will "either limit or abolish the ability of anyone other than a state legislature to set the rules for federal elections" --- well, I don't have the heart to go into the details here. But tune in if you want to be informed about what is coming next...and just in time for the 2024 Presidential election.

Stern has been warning about the opinions set to drop shortly for a very long time on this program. I leave it to you if you want to know what he warns is coming next.

"I don't know what to tell you except that madness is coming, and all we can do is try to prepare for it as best we can," he tells me. "Because this is the direction that the conservative Justices are moving in. They have telegraphed it very clearly, and they are moving us there just on schedule."

I wish I could say we close out today's show by cheering you up with our latest Green News Report, but we pride ourselves in telling listeners the truth, no matter how grim...

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Guest: Salon's Heather Digby Parton; Also: New jobs under Biden blow away records; Trump wanted to bomb Mexico, says his former SecDef...
By Brad Friedman on 5/6/2022 6:32pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The five Republican Supreme Court Justices who were revealed this week to have voted to overturn the well-settled law of 1973's landmark 'Roe v. Wade' and the Constitutional freedoms it guaranteed for the right to privacy and reproductive healthcare, all appear to have lied about their positions on well-established precedent during their Senate confirmation hearings. And now Republicans are running for cover and Democrats are trying to figure out how to respond. All of which is shaking up "Conventional Wisdom" about this November's midterm elections. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Before we get there with our guest today, however, some quick news. The Labor Department reported on Friday that 428,000 new jobs were added, beating economists' expectations for the month once again. Unemployment remains near a 50-year low and hourly wages are now 5.5% higher than they were a year ago. The U.S. economy has now regained nearly 95% of the 22 million jobs lost during Trump's mishandled pandemic, according to the New York Times, and Joe Biden's jobs numbers continue to smash all-time Presidential records with 12 straight months of job growth higher than 400,000. That has never happened since recording keeping of national jobs numbers began in 1939.

As Steve Benen observes, "Over the course of the first three years of Donald Trump’s term --- when the then-Republican president said the United States’ economy was the greatest in the history of the planet --- the economy created roughly 6.5 million jobs. This includes all of 2017, 2018, and 2019." That was all before the pandemic. Meanwhile, since Biden took office in January 2021, just 15 months ago, 8.8 million jobs have been created, "well above the combined total of Trump's first three years."

And the news of Trump's disastrous reign continues to pour out from the memoir, to be published next week, from his former Secretary of Defense, Mark Esper. Earlier in the week, we learned Trump wanted soldiers to shoot Black Lives Matter protesters in the street following the police murder of George Floyd. Last night, the Times' Maggie Haberman reports that Esper's book details Trump's repeated suggestion in 2020 that the U.S. bomb our southern neighbor. He wanted to "shoot missiles into Mexico to destroy the drug labs," and then lie about it to the public, says Esper. "We could just shoot some Patriot missiles and take out the labs, quietly," Esper reports Trump as telling him, "no one would know it was us." He made that suggestion twice, to a stunned Esper.

Trump's last Senate-confirmed SecDef also reveals that a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff began researching the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office after being shaken by his erratic behavior during a meeting on China in May of 2020. There's more. Tune in for it.

NEXT, we're joined by our old friend HEATHER DIGBY PARTON, award-winning opinion and analysis journalist from Salon and Digby's Hullabaloo to help us make sense of all of the considerable fallout following this week's stunning leak of a SCOTUS majority draft opinion that would overturn 'Roe v. Wade' in its entirety.

Among the related points discussed: Parton's take on the on draft opinion itself; why it may have been leaked; the GOP's "big tell" reaction revealing "that they weren't really prepared" for this in advance of an election they thought they had in the bag; and the need for Democrats to coalesce around a message in solid response to the unprecedented removal of freedoms for Americans which will not stop with abortion.

Digby also shares thoughts on the show vote that Dems have scheduled for next week to codify 'Roe' into law, even though its certain to fail, if only because they won't be able to wrangle the votes needed to overcome a GOP filibuster or to waive the 60-vote requirement in the U.S. Senate. (Remember: Republicans voted to do away with the filibuster for Supreme Court Justices when they packed the Court with the lying Justices Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and Barrett during the Trump Administration.)

But Parton would also like to see a series of separate votes on related matters to get all members on record. For example, a law that establishes "that you're not allowed to punish women for any pregnancy-related crime" and one that would protect abortion in cases of rape or incest. "Are you for rape?' Get them on the record," she advises. "If you want to raise awareness about what these people are really talking about, maybe you need to get more explicit about it."

Also, we discuss my belief that buying into the Conventional Wisdom emanating from the corporate media which presumes Dems will take a shellacking this November is a huge mistake in these decidedly unconventional times.

FINALLY today, Desi Doyen's got our latest Green News Report, on the EU's plan for a Russian oil embargo; CA's investigation of Big Oil lies about plastic recycling; and plummeting levels at western reservoirs leading to unprecedented water cuts and revealing...wait for it...long dead bodies.

Enjoy!...

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Also: 'A lot of people are about to get sick' due to 'explosive' Omicron...
By Brad Friedman on 12/16/2021 6:30pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we cover both COVID and SCOTUS and how to try and stay safe from and/or fight back against the very serious threats now posed by both of these hideous, rogue, all-caps acronyms. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

First up, it's COVID. Specifically, the Omicron variant, as the CDC finds that, according to their latest data, unvaccinated people are 14 times more likely to die and 11 times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 than those who are vaccinated. Those numbers seem to refer to those vaccinated by two mRNA shots without a booster shot, which is now key to fighting the quickly rising threat of Omicron.

As Josh Marshall bluntly warns in one of his chilling recent updates on newly emerging data on the new, highly transmissible variant --- which still include a number of unknowns --- "A lot of people are about to get sick."

New studies just coming in from around the world suggest that Omicron is incredibly aggressive, even for those with some immunity from two vaccine shots or previous infection. A booster shot, the studies are finding, help tremendously to ward off both the likelihood of infection, as well as the worst symptoms. Two doses and a booster will roughly offer the same protection against Omicron as two shots alone did against Delta. Marshall reports the data show "late December through January will be explosive in terms of numbers of infections" in the U.S. He repeated a similar warning based on newer incoming data on Omicron last night: "The rate of growth is simply explosive. There’s no other way to put it...we should expect a very, very large wave of infections in the coming weeks...The pace and scope of the surge looks likely to be something like the original one in the Spring of 2020."

Too many people, I believe, have been placating themselves on the somewhat misleading data point suggesting Omicron infection appears to be less severe than previous variants. There are a number of reasons that it could be (including the fact that many now have at least some immunity due to vaccination or antibodies from a previous infection), but the severity level misses the point of the somewhat terrifying transmissibility numbers emerging right now and how that is likely to overwhelm health systems in this country and result in a lot of people dying. A more mild disease that infects 5 times more people is equally or potentially even more deadly.

The current surge under way in the U.S. is still almost entirely comprised of Delta cases. Once Omicron --- which is really good at breaking through immunity created by both infection antibodies and vaccines --- begins to rise over the next 2 to 4 weeks, things could get really bad on several levels. We are already seeing deaths spike again to more than 1,700 a day in the U.S., and that's almost entirely from Delta.

Bottom line: Get boosted. "It's not a marginal difference" from two shots, Marshall advises, based on a very close reading of emerging data and discussion with experts, "It's a big one." He goes on to write: "I would also seriously consider limiting obvious vectors of exposure: indoor activities in large groups, eating indoors, large crowds indoors or out. We all have our own levels of risk aversion and we can’t hide forever. But you should assume that your risk of being exposed to COVID is about to go up a lot. So plan accordingly.

Of course, he's hardly the only one sending this similar message. "All the models right now are flashing bright red," warns New York "Intelligencer" science writer David Wallace-Wells in one of his latest pieces headlined "Omicron is About to Overwhelm Us: The new COVID variant has all the makings of a mass wave." Pay attention please. Get boosted.

Next up, it's SCOTUS. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) penned a blistering --- if absolutely correct on every key point --- op-ed at Boston Globe yesterday, calling for the expansion of the Republicans "packed" and "stolen" and "corrupt" Supreme Court. The call comes not a moment too soon (and, perhaps a year or so too late). Still, it's good to hear elected officials speak as directly about the threat now posed by this corrupted, partisan Court to "basis principles of law" which now "threaten the democratic foundations of our nation."

We share most of her piece on air today. But if you don't listen to the show, read her must-read piece. She breaks down precisely how Mitch McConnell's hypocritical "Republican court-packing has undermined the legitimacy of every action the current court takes" as its illegitimate 6 to 3 rightwing "supermajority will continue to threaten basic liberties for decades to come." Democrats, she advises, must exercise their Constitutional Article III, Section 1 authority to change the size of the Court, as Congress has done at least seven times before. That number doesn't even include what happened after McConnell, corruptly "reduced the size of the court for over a year solely for ... partisan gain and then turned around and jammed through another nominee days before losing the presidency."

But, as welcome as op-eds are, action is better. So we were delighted when, immediately after the Supremes last week once again allowed Texas' clearly unconstitutional six-week abortion ban law to stay in place, the Governor of California announced plans for actual action to push back. If its now judicially acceptable to write laws that both undermine Constitutional rights and evade judicial review by allowing private citizens to enforce it, as the Texas law does, the same can be done with other rights.

On Saturday, Gov. Gavin Newsom declared his intention to "work with the Legislature and the Attorney General on a bill that would create a right of action allowing private citizens to seek injunctive relief, and statutory damages of at least $10,000 per violation plus costs and attorney’s fees, against anyone who manufactures, distributes, or sells an assault weapon or ghost gun kit or parts in the State of California."

"If states can now shield their laws from review by the federal courts that compare assault weapons to Swiss Army knives, then California will use that authority to protect people’s lives, where Texas used it to put women in harm’s way," the Governor noted in his brief statement. "If the most efficient way to keep these devastating weapons off our streets is to add the threat of private lawsuits, we should do just that."

He seems quite serious. And so does New York Attorney General Leticia James who, when asked about whether her state might take similar actions to Newsom's this week on ABC's The View, cited the outrageous immunity against prosecution that gun manufacturer's have been afforded by federal statute to say: "Yes! When I heard about that, I said to my team, we need to follow his lead."

Good. It's remarkable that the extremist radical rightwingers on the High Court either didn't see this coming, or didn't care. Of course, if the Supremes are cool with the Texas law as written, what is to stop any state from allowing "lawful" private, vigilante law suits against people who are simply exercising their First Amendment rights by, say, wearing a MAGA hat or being members of the Republican Party? In truth, nothing stops that at all, which is why Sen. Warren's op-ed is so on point.

Finally, as if those threats are aren't enough, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with more threats to our climate than the Supreme Court should allow us to fit into six minutes...

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Guest: Activist, author Kenny Bruno on 'DEFCON for Democracy'; Also: Fourth student dies after MI high school gun massacre...
By Brad Friedman on 12/1/2021 5:51pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It's a grim day in America. But it's one that every American should be paying very close attention to nonetheless. [Audio link to full show posted at the end of this summary.]

First up today, a fourth student, a 17-year old, has died following Tuesday's mass shooting by a 15-year old at Oxford High School in Michigan. The other three victims who were killed, as well as seven other students who remained in the hospital overnight after being shot, were all aged 14 to 17. The shooter used his father's new semi-automatic pistol purchased just last Friday to carry out the massacre. There were still seven more bullets in the weapon when he surrendered to authorities. But, that's "freedom" for ya in 2021 America, apparently.

On Wednesday morning, the Republicans' stolen and packed 6 to 3 U.S. Supreme Court majority met to consider removing the previously long-settled freedom for a woman to determine her own reproductive rights in all 50 states. The case heard at SCOTUS was Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the last remaining abortion clinic in the state of Mississippi, where legislators have adopted a law that would ban all abortions in the state after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The measure was overturned in lower courts after being found a clear violation of the nearly 50-year old Roe v. Wade precedent set in 1973 and reaffirmed as settled law in 1992's Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

When MS filed their initial appeal at the Supreme Court they sought approval for their then-radical 15-week ban. It was only after last year's death of abortion rights champion, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, and her subsequent replacement on the Court by the far-right Amy Coney Barret just eight days before the 2020 Presidential election, that the state decided to also ask the court to strike down Roe in its entirety.

Little, if anything, has changed legally since 1992 regarding the reproductive rights Constitutionally guaranteed by Roe and reaffirmed by Casey. But the make-up of the High Court itself has changed radically. Its majority has been stolen by Republicans who cancelled the filibuster in the Senate in order to pack three, hard-right Donald Trump appointees onto it. That fact, made clear by MS legislators themselves, led Justice Sonia Sotomayor to aptly ask the state's Republican Attorney General today: "Will this institution survive the stench that this creates in the public perception that the Constitution and its reading are just political acts?"

Good question. Of course, the answer is that those on the political Right don't actually care. As the twice federally indicted Steve Bannon recently noted on his War Room radio show/podcast, Republicans are only interested in "taking over" --- from school boards to the White House --- and whether or not their hardball methods result in "a Constitutional crisis," they really don't care. "We're a big and tough country and we can handle that," he preached to his followers.

To that end, Republican officials across the country are, right now, hoping to break American democracy itself, by installing loyalist Trump party apparatchik in key election administration positions, from precinct judges to county clerks to canvassing boards to Secretaries of State, as Washington Post reported in great detail on Monday. The Plot to Steal the 2024 Election is underway RIGHT NOW. Ignore these warnings at all of our peril.

We're joined today by longtime progressive activist and author KENNY BRUNO who offered a similarly chilling --- and even more direct --- warning at Truthout over the weekend, spelling out how Trump and the GOP have already "laid the groundwork for assuming the U.S. presidency regardless of the result of the 2024 election." He details today how "most of the conditions they would need to execute [their plan] is already in place."

"Often you see it covered, or you see various aspects covered, as if they were disparate things," Bruno explains, "like the treatment of Liz Cheney, the sham audit in Arizona, the repetition of the Big Lie, the new voter suppression laws in 19 states --- covered as if they are disparate things. But the simplest explanation is that they are all part of a plan," he charges, before spelling out exactly how that plan is meant to work between now and the certification of state electors on January 6, 2025.

To "undermine faith in elections" in order to steal a Presidential election, Bruno argues, "you would want radical state legislatures, especially in swing states. You would want a majority of states with a majority of loyal members of Congress. You would want to purge moderate representatives and election officials who might not go along with ending democracy, who might not play ball. You'd want a compliant Supreme Court. You'd want to intimidate the election officials who are left. I could go on...These are things that you need in place. If you look now at Trump and the GOP, most of those boxes are already checked. And they're part of a comprehensive plan."

What --- if anything --- can be done about it? Well, the options in response, as also spelled out by Bruno in his op-ed and on today's program, are not great. But knowing and understanding what is going on is a critical first step. While we have been warning and reporting on this stuff seemingly forever (for example, while the actual attempt to steal the 2020 election was underway in advance of the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol), it seems the warnings are not being adequately amplified by either corporate media or Democrats, as Bruno sees it.

He goes on to note that his originally suggested title for his Truthout piece was "DEFCON for Democracy," before the headline was somewhat softened by editors. "I think if you understand the threat to be that severe, then you have to take drastic action. Unless you're talking about it, and preparing people for drastic action, they're not going to understand why it's justified," cautions Bruno. "This is a real threat, it's a real plan. The evidence is that it's being carried out. And if you want to stop it, you might have to take some drastic action."

"I would love to be wrong about the whole thing, to be honest," he concedes. "I think the most important thing at the moment is to talk about it, to call it out. Because if you don't socialize people to the idea that this steal, subversion, gaming of the Electoral College is underway, they won't be ready to accept your actions to defend it."

As noted, it's a grim day and a grim show today, but one that we hope will be well worth your time to listen in full...

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Guest: Legal journalist Mark Joseph Stern; Also: Cybersecurity and voting system experts alert CA SoS to stolen election software threat to Recall...
By Brad Friedman on 9/7/2021 6:07pm PT  

We're back! Luckily it was a slow news week while we we're off last week, right? Okay, maybe not. So, on today's BradCast we begin to pick up on just some of that "slow" news. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

After nearly month or so of trying to ring alarm bells for the national media and election officials in California, hoping they would connect the dots between the ongoing CA Gubernatorial Recall election and the threat of Dominion Voting Systems election software stolen from a Mesa County, Colorado's County Clerk's office (apparently BY the Mesa County Clerk herself!) and released into the wilds of the Internet, we had some progress late last week!

Eight of the nation's top cybersecurity and voting systems experts sent an urgent 3-page letter [PDF] to CA Sec. of State Shirley Weber, warning her about the threat that the stolen software now poses to the CA Recall (Election Day is next Tuesday, Sept. 14th) and the need for her to immediately mandate a statewide post-election Risk Limiting Audit to both ensure the computer-tallied results are accurate and to offer confidence in those results to those who may think they are not. That, no matter who wins or loses. As we reported late last week at The BRAD BLOG, the scientists, in their letter to Weber, warn the Secretary that "it is critical to recognize that the release of the Dominion software into the wild has increased the risk to the security of California elections to the point that emergency action is warranted."

Associated Press reported on the letter as it was released last Thursday, as did we. But the response from the SoS' office for now is, shall we say, somewhat lackluster. We hope to have more on this as the week progresses and Election Day nears. But at least it's not only us with our hair on fire about these serious concerns.

Next, there were three disturbing rulings issued --- largely in the middle of the night --- by the stolen and packed GOP majority on the U.S. Supreme Court while we were gone or just before we left. All three cases have major consequences. And, in all cases, the rulings were issued without hearings, oral argument, public debate or oversight, or even full explanation from the rightwing Justices.

One "stunning" ruling prevents President Biden from setting U.S. immigration policy, by forcing him to continue the so-called "Remain in Mexico" policy instituted by his predecessor for asylum seekers coming up from Central America; Another blocked the President's moratorium on evictions amid the pandemic; and, perhaps the most disturbing one, as you may have heard, effectively overturns the long-standing precedent of Roe v. Wade's constitutional protections of the right of a woman to have an abortion in the state of Texas. All three decisions were issued with no hearings or public debate and virtually no comment from the Justice's as part of the Court's "Shadow Docket" while they are on Summer break between terms.

Longtime legal journalist MARK JOSEPH STERN has been warning for a while about the increasing use (and abuse) of the "Shadow Docket" by the increasingly activist authoritarian Court, now that it's been packed with three Donald Trump appointees, rammed onto the Court after Senate Republicans did away with the filibuster to do so. Now, as we discuss with Stern on today's program, it should be clear to just about everyone what it is that he's been warning about.

"With the Shadow Dockets, it means that basically we all have to be on high alert 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, because at any time the Supreme Court could issue a monumental decision overturning decades of precedent," says Stern, with little or no warning or explanation.

On the "Remain in Mexico" ruling, Stern observes: "You might have thought that the Supreme Court does not let lower court judges issue sweeping injunctions blocking the President's immigration policies. As you recall, under Trump, the Supreme Court's conservatives leapt in, time and time again, to swat down judges who had tried to halt the former President's immigration rules. But all of that is out the window now that Joe Biden is in the White House. Instead, we have a new principle here that, apparently, the President no longer runs foreign policy." In fact, in this case, that lower Trump-appointed judge actually ordered Biden to enter foreign policy negotiations with Mexico and, astonishingly, the high court let the order stand without comment!

"The hypocrisy here is stunning," Stern argues. "The Supreme Court said that the President gets to make immigration law over and over again under Trump. Remember the travel ban case? Remember the wealth-test case? Remember all of these awful cases where the Supreme Court said Trump can do whatever he wants? And then Biden comes in, and the Supreme Court says Biden can't do anything he wants."

On the eviction moratorium, also overruled by the rightwing Justices, "we're being deprived of any kind of clear debate" via the Court's Shadow Docket, where "the conservatives are awarding themselves more and more power to pretend that debatable decisions in the lower courts are so obviously wrong that they can intervene and resolve them whenever they want."

But, of course, the most egregious item decided without explanation or public debate --- or even a hearing in the lower appellate courts! --- over the last two weeks, is the SCOTUS decision that allows Texas Republicans' new abortion ban law to take effect. The state statute bans all abortions after the sixth week of pregnancy and deputizes citizens to file lawsuits against anyone --- from family members to friends to clergy members to Uber drivers --- who helps a woman in any fashion to obtain an abortion. Such citizen "bounty hunters" will each be awarded at least $10,000 for doing so, under Texas law. All of this, of course, blatantly undercuts the precedent set by SCOTUS in 1973's Roe v. Wade, establishing a Constitutional right to an abortion. And, it's all now being done under the cover of the Shadow Docket, which even Chief Justice Roberts, in this one instance, was forced dissent against.

Whether the Lone Star State's convoluted scheme of deputizing citizens to enforce the law, rather than the state doing so directly, gets around the mandates of Roe is "a huge question, and it's one that I think deserves a full airing, especially after 50 years of Americans enjoying a constitutional right to reproductive autonomy," Stern explains. "It's the kind of thing that would be debated in public if this were a regular case. And also, traditionally in the law, there's a really strong bias toward the status quo, to keeping things as they have been until the Court can have a full and fair hearing on the merits. We didn't get that hearing here, and yet the Court refused to step in and maintain the status quo of abortion access. So we are left with the nation's second largest state shuttering its abortion providers and forcing women to flee out of state if they want to terminate a pregnancy."

So, what, if anything, can be done about the emboldened far-right's abuse of the Shadow Docket at SCOTUS? We discuss that as well, including measures that could --- and, arguably should --- be taken immediately by Congress to reign in an out-of-control Court. Those measures, however, would likely require Democrats to reform the Senate filibuster in order to enact them --- ya know, just as Senate Republicans did to jam these far-right activist jurists onto the Court in the first place, where they are now using the Shadow Docket to, cowardly, run wild. And, all of that, before SCOTUS even begins its term on the first Monday in October, when, Stern predicts, there is even more bad news regarding freedom and civil rights in these United States...

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Guest: FSFP's Courtney Hostetler on federal suit challenging two new vote suppression laws in AZ; Also: John Lewis Voting Rights Enhancement Act passed by House Dems; NC court restores voting rights to 50k...
By Brad Friedman on 8/25/2021 6:32pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It was bad enough in 2013 when Chief Justice John Roberts gutted Section 5, the key provision of the Voting Rights Act. That section prevented discriminatory voting laws before they could take effect. By the time Justice Samuel Alito, on behalf of the Republicans' stolen and packed 6 to 3 majority, legislated from the bench last month to create new tests for Section 2 of the VRA, pulled largely out of thin air, it felt like there was little left in the landmark 1965 federal legislation to protect voters. But voting rights champions are moving forward in courts, nonetheless, even as the battle for new federal voting rights legislation continues.

On Tuesday night, without a single Republican vote, Democrats in the House adopted the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. The measure would fix much of the damage done to Section 5 of the VRA by the GOP Supremes in 2013, allowing laws with a discriminatory impact on minorities to be blocked in all fifty states before they can suppress voters. But that bill have to overcome a Senate filibuster by Republicans to become law. Still, Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia says he support its passage, so perhaps he'll support the modification to the filibuster necessary to pass it. Given the federal lawsuit filed last week in Arizona against two new GOP voter suppression schemes in that state, perhaps AZ's Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, another opponent of filibuster reform --- even on behalf off democracy --- will rethink her position as well when the Senate returns from its August recess.

On Monday, however, there was some bona fide good news out of the very closely divided state of North Carolina, where a court overturned a century old law that prevented former felons from voting upon release from prison. The measure, originally enacted after the Civil War to stop access to the ballot box for black Americans, was finally overturned this week, allowing some 50,000 former felons to register to vote immediately. Of course, state Republicans are appealing the ruling.

And, despite good news last month from a Florida court, tossing a GOP cap on how much money can be donated to get initiatives onto the ballot in the Sunshine State, the effort to once again reenfranchise former felons in that state will now have to wait until the 2024 ballot. That, even after Florida voters already voted for exactly that in a landslide 65% to 35% victory in 2018. It seems Republicans will never run out of ways to prevent some 800,000 returning citizens in the state from being able to participate in their own democracy. It's what they do. It's also why it is so critical to adopt federal reforms, currently being blocked by Republicans and a couple of intransigent Democratic Senators.

In Arizona last week, several voting and civil rights group filed a federal lawsuit challenging two laws recently enacted by state Republicans aimed at suppressing the minority vote, according to our guest today, COURTNEY HOSTETLER, Senior Counsel at the non-partisan government watchdog Free Speech for People (FSFP). Her organization is litigating the case on behalf of Mi Familia Vota, Arizona Coalition for Change, Living United for Change in Arizona (LUCHA), and Chispa Arizona. One law ends the state's very popular permanent early voting list, which allowed voters to receive Vote-by-Mail ballots automatically for every election. The other restriction requires voters who forgot to sign their VBM ballot to do so by 7pm on Election Night. That, even though voters judged to have a "mismatched" signature on their absentee ballot are allowed to "cure" the problem for up to five days after Election Day.

On the first restriction, Hostetler explains today that the permanent early voting list "is supposed to permanent. It's right in the name." But under the new law, she says, "if you don't vote in two consecutive election cycles, you're out. Two election cycles is not that many. There are local elections, many elections that happen. If you decide to skip two elections, for whatever reason, you're off this list and you might not realize it" until its too late.

On the second restriction, she describes that many voters are unlikely to be able to sign their ballot in time, or even be notified that there is a problem, particularly if they only dropped it off the day before the election and especially in the many cases where there is a two-hour, one-way trip for voters forced to use public transportation.

All of this is supposedly to prevent "voter fraud", according to Republicans in a state which has been unable to show any evidence of substantive fraud in past elections, much less fraud that would be prevented by the new restrictions. On the other hand, as Hostetler details, these laws --- which appear neutral on their face --- are specifically designed to "impact minority voters" in several different nefarious ways.

"We can't divorce this from the history of voting suppression in Arizona," she argues, listing many of the ways in which minorities will see a disparate impact from these laws. "Arizona has an unfortunate and long history of voter suppression of Latino, Black and Native American voters."

As the federal complaint [PDF] filed last week reads: "It is no coincidence that the Arizona legislature enacted these changes only after an election in which (1) for the first time in recent memory, the presidential candidate preferred by Arizona voters of color won; and (2) voters of color increasingly used early voting --- the target of the new laws --- to help elect their candidate of choice."

But how can these restrictions be challenged in federal court, given Justice Alito's absurd, created-from-whole-cloth new "guideposts" for adjudicating Section 2 cases under the VRA, where, as we discussed on The BradCast last month, he literally conceded that discriminatory laws are okay, so long as they don't discriminated too much?

Hostetler explains the groups' strategy for challenging these laws under the VRA as well as Amendments 1, 14, and 15 of the U.S. Constitution which, she argues, these restrictions "clearly violate". She also speaks to the necessity of passage of new federal laws to give voting rights attorneys more tools to work with, since SCOTUS has twice gutted the VRA over the past decade. She similarly offers advice on and what we can all do --- as voters, as citizens --- to help reverse this cycle of insidious voter suppression now setting in across the country...especially in swing states like Kyrsten Sinema's Arizona...

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Guest: Legal reporter Mark Joseph Stern on activist Alito's 'totally fabricated' new rules for Voting Rights Act enforcement and much more; Also: Corporations break vow on donations to insurrectionist GOPers...
By Brad Friedman on 7/9/2021 5:04pm PT  

On today's BradCast: A very lively conversation with one of our favorite guests...about a very dark moment in our nation's history. [Audio link to full show is posted at bottom of this summary.]

Last week, on the final day of its term this year, the 6 Republican Justices on the GOP's stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court majority, "turned back the clock on voting rights," according to UC Irvine election law professor Rick Hasen. A week after Justice Samuel Alito opinion for the majority in Brnovich v. DNC was published, Hasen is "angry" that "so much of the public does not realize what a hit American democracy has taken," as the ruling "reopens the door to a United States in which states can put up roadblocks to minority voting and engage in voter suppression with few legal consequences once a state has raised tenuous and unsupported concerns about the risk of voter fraud. It's exactly the opposite of what Congress intended."

We share Hasen's fury today. Not only about the activist Rightwing SCOTUS jurists legislating from the bench to wholly rewrite the intent of Congress, but also about them ignoring the couldn't-be-clearer, simple meaning of the plain text of the 15th Amendment. The entire thing is only two sentences long. The first declares "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude." The second states that "The CONGRESS shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation." [Emphasis added for our six deceitful, dishonest SCOTUS Justices.]

Once again, the Supreme Court has chosen to simply ignore that second sentence in --- yet again --- gutting the Voting Rights Act, the appropriate legislation Congress wrote, and has amended to strengthen several times, in order to enforce the 15th Amendment, as literally directed by the Constitution. And, once again, the Roberts Court has put the lie to the bogus claim by the Right that the Republican appointees are "originalists" or "Constitutional textualists" who believe only in the literal, plain text meaning of Constitution as it was written. That is clearly, and always has been, a bald-faced lie.

We're joined today by the great MARK JOSEPH STERN, legal reporter at Slate, to discuss, at term's end, the outrage of the "mangled" Brnovich opinion, which now allows Arizona and other Republican controlled states to simply ignore the expressed intent of Congress' specific legislation barring voting laws that result in disproportionate disenfranchisement of minority voters and pretends that the Judiciary, not Congress, has the "power to enforce" the Constitution's 15th Amendment.

"You're dead right about the Fifteenth Amendment," Stern tells me. "And I do think it's worth noting that all of the Reconstruction amendments expressly empower Congress to enforce them. Because the framers of these amendments after the Civil War recognized that it was crucial not to just rely on the federal courts to protect rights, that Congress itself needed to play a leading role in the protection of Constitutional rights. And, particularly, the protection of political equality for people of all races."

"The conservative Justices [they're not "conservative", which we discuss as well!] have adopted this position not just of judicial supremacy but judicial arrogance, that the framers of the Reconstruction amendments couldn't possibly have intended to give Congress power to go beyond the Supreme Court's own interpretation of the Constitution.," Stern fumes. "This is a theme that we see from conservative justices over and over again --- where they say 'We're the ones who decide what counts as a right. We're the ones who decide what counts as legal and illegal, and Congress has nothing to say. Congress can only enforce our own rulings. What five of us say on this Supreme Court overrules what everyone says in Congress and the elected democratic branches. That has led to this twisted position where we don't see a lot of litigators actually speaking about the text of the 15th Amendment because the court has said, 'We sit at the top of the hierarchy, we get to decide, and all Congress can do is enforce our positions.'"

Stern also joins Hasen's (and my) anger in seeing SCOTUS blatantly ignore Congress's express intent for Section 2 of the VRA to prevent voting laws that result in the disenfranchisement of minorities. "What Justice Alito has done," Stern tells us, amounts to simply "making up" a new rule that is "totally fabricated" and "nowhere in the text" of either the law or the Constitution, in setting new "guideposts" for the use of the VRA's Section 2. "The law says very explicitly that any voting restrictions that results in disproportionate impact on racial minorities is illegal."

At the same time that the Court allowed Arizona's new voter suppression laws, Stern notes the irony of Chief Justice John Roberts, on the very same day in another "bitterly divided" 6 to 3 opinion (Americans for Prosperity Foundation v. Bonta), blocking the state of California's law that allowed its Attorney General to learn the name of "dark money" donors to non-profit groups in order to enforce state laws and limits. All of which, Stern observes, bodes very darkly for both what is to come in the next term of SCOTUS (major cases on guns, abortion and affirmative action are on the docket) and beyond --- not to mention any laws Democrats in Congress may pass (if they can ever reform the filibuster) to protect voting rights.

"In fact, I have been saying for a long time, unfortunately, that this Supreme Court will strike down large portions, if not all, of the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act," Stern warns. "Next term is winding up to be one of the most catastrophic terms for progressives, for the left, in history --- in the entire history of the country."

With that bright news, we also discuss the disappointment of 82-year old, Democratic-appointed Justice Stephen Breyer failing to announce his retirement last week as many hoped, so he could be replaced by a Democratic White House and Senate, while both still exist. And, yes, there is much more in our conversation today regarding SCOTUS at the end of its first term with three far-right activist jurists packed onto it by Senate Republicans who happily blocked a Democratic appointee to the Court for year, before unilaterally killing the Senate filibuster to seat all three of Trump's appointees.

Also today, remember all of those major corporations who pretended to express outrage after the January 6th insurrection and the passage of voter suppression laws around the country, vowing to halt corporate donations to members of Congress who voted against the certification of Joe Biden's decisive victory over Trump? Yeah, as we warned you months ago, most of them didn't actually mean it. Now we have much more proof...

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