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Latest Featured Reports | Monday, December 9, 2019
Sunday 'Low Flow' Toons
When he goes low, the cartoonists in PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best political toons go lower...
U.S. Economy 'Whistling Past a Climate Graveyard':
'BradCast' 12/6/19
Guest: The Prospect's David Dayen on mag's landmark Green New Deal edition; Also: House GOPers jumping ship (several heading to jail)...
'Green News Report' 12/5/19
  w/ Brad & Desi
The hottest ten years on record; GOP Senate confirms lobbyist as Energy Sec; CA bans all new fracking, for now; PLUS: Greta Thunberg is back in Europe, with a warning for politicians...
Previous GNRs: 12/3/19 - 11/26/19 - Archives...
'A President Should Resist Foreign Interference in Our Elections, Not Demand It': 'BradCast' 12/4/19
First House Judiciary hearing on Trump's impeachable crimes w/ Heather Digby Parton...
'Abuse of Office, Abuse of Power, Abuse of the Public Trust': 'BradCast' 12/3/19
Guest: Const'l law, impeachment expert John Bonifaz; Also: Kamala out; Another bad court day for Team Trump...
'Green News Report' 12/3/19
U.N. climate summit kicks off with 'catastrophic' news in Madrid; PLUS: Residents back home after yet another petrochemical explosion in TX ruins Thanksgiving...
2019 Foreshadows 2020 Vote System Catastrophes: 'BradCast' 12/2/19
Also: Bullock out; Hunter 'guilty'; Impeachment to run right up until 2020 voting begins; L.A. County Clerk still refuses to answer Qs about his new unverifiable vote systems...
Sunday 'It's Just a Cyst' Toons
As usual, as PDiddie proves once again, there is nothing at all to worry about in his latest Sunday collection of political toons...
Don't Just Debunk the Ukraine DNC Hack Conspiracy Theory. Expose Its Absurdity.
Why the evidence-free Trump/GOP claims about Ukraine and the 2016 election make no sense whatsoever...
Turkey Day Toons!
PDiddie doesn't even take Sundays off! Did you think he would stand down for Thanksgiving?! Gobble gobble!...
Trump Is Up Schiff's Creek Without an Alibi:
'BradCast' 11/27/19
Debunking the 'impeachment is a disaster for Democrats!' lie with actual, independently verifiable facts...
'Green News Report' 11/26/19
Climate change finds way into latest Dem debate; Greenhouse gas at record highs; 2019 wettest year on record; PLUS: Oxford Dictionary's 'Word of the Year' is...
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: Constitutional law, impeachment expert John Bonifaz; Also: Kamala is out; Another no good, very bad day in court for Team Trump...
By Brad Friedman on 12/3/2019 6:09pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It was another very bad day in the federal courts for Donald Trump, though another very good one for the Rule of Law (for those who still care about such things), even as a new phase in the President's ongoing impeachment inquiry begins in the U.S. House. [Audio link to full show is posted at the end of this article.]

First up, some quick news of the day. California Senator and one time "top tier" 2020 Democratic Presidential candidate is dropping out of the race exactly two months before voting begins in Iowa in next year's nominating contest and just two weeks before the next Presidential debate set for her home state on December 19. We discuss the ramifications for the race and for the woman who might have been the first black female President (but who could very well still become the first such Vice President).

There was more bad news today for Trump and his family and his businesses in federal court on Tuesday, as a three-judge panel on the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in New York agreed with the lower court ruling that both Deutsche Bank and Capital One must turn over Trump-related financial documents to two House committees which had subpoenaed them. Trump and his family sued the banks to block the disclosure of what could be a treasure trove of damning documentation detailing years of Trump's dubious financial history and the sources of his funding after several bankruptcies and denials for loans from banks other than the German-based Deutsche. Despite his many business failures, that bank, for some reason, reportedly loaned Trump and his businesses well over $2 billion. Now that he's lost in court again, he has been given seven days to decide if he wishes to appeal to the Republicans' stolen majority on the Supreme Court before the banks will be required to turn over the records to Congress.

Tuesday's serious legal blow follows another one for Trump on Monday, when U.S. District Court Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson refused to place a Stay on her ruling from last week ordering Don McGahn to appear before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee regarding the former White House Counsel's testimony on Trump's many instances of obstruction of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation. The judge ruled the Trump Dept. of Justice's claim that the Presidency would suffer "irreparable harm," if McGahn was allowed to testify was baseless. She did, however, determine that the House Judiciary Committee's ongoing investigation would be "unquestionably harm[ed]" without it, "and by extension" the lack of testimony by the former White House legal chief "would also injure the public’s interest in thorough and well-informed impeachment proceedings."

Speaking of which, the impeachment action moves from the House Intelligence Committee to the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, with Judiciary's first public hearing on the Ukraine matter. They will work from a searing 300-page report released by the Intelligence panel on Tuesday, documenting serious abuses of power and obstruction of Congress by Trump that have been revealed during the past several weeks of public and private testimony regarding the President's campaign to withhold military assistance from Ukraine until they agreed to help him in the 2020 Presidential election. The Judiciary Committee's central aim, after the House Intelligence panel found Trump "placed his own personal and political interests above the national interests of the United States," will now be to determine if Articles of Impeachment are merited against the President.

Our guest today, who has written several books on impeachment and testified to Congress about "high crimes and misdemeanor" is Constitutional law expert JOHN BONIFAZ, Co-Founder and President of Free Speech for People. Bonifaz testified to House Judiciary Democrats during the George W. Bush era, explaining how the founders definition of "high crimes" was easily met by Dubya via his unlawful war in Iraq. He also favored impeachment of Bill Clinton back in the 90s, but tells us today that "nothing rises to the level of the kind of abuses of power we've seen under this President".

Bonifaz offers a preview of what four Constitutional law experts are likely to offer during their testimony at Wednesday's first hearing before the House Judiciary panel and explains how the Constitution's term "high crimes and misdemeanors" was meant to refer to abuses of office that were not necessarily defined as statutory crimes (since there were very few such crimes on the books when the Constitution was first adopted!) "This is not about demonstrating in a court of law that the President has committed x or y violations of the federal statutory code, a federal crime or state crime," he tells me. "This is about abuse of office, abuse of power, abuse of the public trust."

Bonifaz, whose latest book on impeachment with Ron Fein and Ben Clements is called The Constitution Demands It: The Case for the Impeachment of Donald Trump, argues that there is a long list [PDF] of abuses that merit the removal of this President. "We've laid out a number of Impeachment Articles that should be presented in Congress that go beyond the Ukraine scandal. They include racist abuses of power, the abuses of power at the southern border separating children and their families, violating their Constitutional rights. The abuse of the pardon power, in pardoning of former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. The list goes on," he says. "And this president need to be held accountable for the full range of his high crimes."

He also explains why he is critical of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats for not moving more quickly when they took control of the House in January, noting that had they initiated the various court battles over testimony and documents at that point, "we would be in a much different position today."

"We are where we are in part because of the unwillingness of the Democratic leadership in the House to do its duty the moment it assumed control of the House of Representatives. They ran on a platform in 2018 to be a check on this Presidency, and it took another nine months into their holding of the House control to start that process of being a check on this Presidency. And that's why we're in this predicament."

I also ask Bonifaz for his thoughts on the White House's legal claims of "absolutely immunity" (it "has no basis in the law," he tells me); whether Chief Justice John Roberts will find a way to block high profile witnesses, like Mulvaney and Bolton, when they are called by Democrats during an impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate (Roberts may "apply the argument that 'these matters are still pending in the federal courts,' so he's not going to override that"); whether he concurs with Robert Reich's argument today that impeaching Trump (whether he's removed or not) makes him legally and Constitutionally "unpardonable"; and how it is up to we, the people, to "stay alert, awake and engaged in fighting for our democracy and our Constitution because we cannot rely on those in power to save us and to save our democracy. We have to fight to protect it, and fight to protect our republic."

Finally, beyond the fight to protect our republic, there is the fight to save our civilization itself. On that matter, we are joined by Desi Doyen with our latest Green News Report, as several disturbing new studies on "catastrophic" tipping points for the climate are published as the nations of the world convene in Madrid this week for the latest U.N. Climate Summit...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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Guest: Slate's Dahlia Lithwick on not returning to SCOTUS; Also: John Oliver touches on touchscreens; KY Gov. Matt Bevin's reelection contest...
By Brad Friedman on 11/4/2019 6:13pm PT  

On today's BradCast: John Oliver touches on America's voting machine crisis, America goes to the polls again (using those same, unverifiable touchscreen voting systems), and one year after accused sex assaulter Brett Kavanaugh was sworn in as a U.S. Supreme Court Justice, one 20-year veteran SCOTUS journalist is refusing to return to the Court...and for very good reason. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up, as we are now officially --- finally --- less than one year away from the critical 2020 Presidential election, our electronic voting systems in many states are still just as bad and dangerous and vulnerable and unverifiable as they were 15 years ago. And, in a bunch of states and jurisdictions across the country, they are getting even worse and less verifiable than they were in the 2016 election. HBO's John Oliver dipped into the issue on his latest Last Week Tonight on Sunday night and got a lot of stuff right regarding our easily-hacked, oft-failed touchscreen voting systems that have been in use over the past several decades. Unfortunately, he also left out a whole bunch of stuff regarding the new and equally vulnerable and 100% unverifiable computer touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) which are now being installed and proliferating in states (many of them key battlegrounds) from coast to coast before 2020. In short, as we detail, Oliver's report was excellent....if this was 2009. As it is now 2019, however, his commentary was a bit wanting. But, we'll take what we can get and that, of course, is why you have The BradCast.

In related-ish news, a bunch of off-year state and local elections are happening in several states on Tuesday. Among the noteworthy contests is the gubernatorial race in Kentucky, where the unpopular and very Trumpy Republican Governor Matt Bevin is fighting for his life in a race with Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear (son of the Bluegrass State's former Governor Steve Beshear), in what pre-election polls suggest is currently a dead-heat contest. But, as we detail today, Bevin was down anywhere from 3 to 5 points in pre-election polling during his first run for Governor against then Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway in 2015. Nonetheless, as we detailed that year, he somehow ended up winning the race, reportedly, by nearly 9 points in a state which still forces many voters to use the same unverifiable touchscreen voting machines that helped Bevin win in 2015. Many of those systems are the same very old, vulnerable and unverifiable ones which Oliver railed against on his HBO piece on Sunday. Trump is in KY on Monday night to help "drag one of the nation’s most unpopular governors across the finish line," as the New York Times describes it today, in what many see as a potential bellwether race ahead of 2020.

Meanwhile, it has now been just over a year since Brett Kavanaugh was sworn in to his lifetime post as an Associate Justice on the Republicans' stolen U.S. Supreme Court. He was seated on the bench almost immediately after Republicans in the U.S. Senate rammed through his nomination --- with the help of a trumped up FBI "investigation" --- late last year despite multiple, credible allegations of sexual assault against Kavanaugh from the time he was in high school and college.

Longtime SCOTUS journalist DAHLIA LITHWICK wrote at Slate last week about why she has not returned to the Court since Kavanaugh was sworn in. She joins us today to discuss the reasons behind her decision, and why, as she described, she will "not accede to the routinization and normalization of the unprecedented seat stolen from President Back Obama in 2016" by Mitch McConnell and Republicans, nor from the "unprecedented seating of someone who managed to himself evade the very inquiries and truth-seeking functions that justice is supposed to demand" in Kavanaugh.

"One-quarter of the federal appeals courts, at this moment, three years into the Trump presidency, are Trump nominees. We're not just talking about nine justices on the Supreme Court. We're talking about the most strategic, systematic takeover of the federal bench that any president has ever effectuated," she tells me. "And that is happening day by day, right under our noses. And those judges are also going to sit for decades. So it's not just the Supreme Court."

It's a fascinating and important conversation, I think, about not only why none of us should simply "get over it" and "move on", when it comes to both Kavanaugh and the stolen seat filled by Neil Gorsuch, but also why our nation's seeming inability (or even interest) in assuring accountability for all manner of precedent --- and criminal law --- breaking in recent years has brought the country to the perilous position we now find ourselves in: Trump in the White House, the Supreme Court stolen and federal courts packed with unqualified rubes for life, and SCOTUS on the precipice of deciding a number of enormously momentous issues this session from union rights to reproductive justice.

"It's what happened when Barack Obama made the decision that we just are not going to re-litigate the CIA torture program, and this very aspirational notion that if we all forgive and forget, we all get to meet in the middle and work toward better outcomes. It's kind of Lucy with the football --- it never works out to meeting in the middle and working toward better outcomes. It just turns out that, yet again, ground has been ceded," she tells me.

"We're really bad at this. The heart wants what it wants, and the heart wants normal. I think that we keep believing that this erosion, this slow systemic erosion of norms, is somehow normal. I thought it was a law, it's not a law. I thought it was a rule, it's not a rule," says Lithwick. "We didn't didn't used to seat 37-year-old bloggers who've never set foot in a court room as a federal judges for life. And now we do. There's no law, there's just a norm. What I was trying to get at in the piece is that constantly acceding to this and saying, 'Well, this is what it is now' --- that there are costs. There are huge, huge costs to democracy."

"Our scrutiny, our unwavering, unflinching, I'm-not-over-it scrutiny does make a difference," she insists. "We need to hold the Court to the same unflinching, 'we're watching you,' 'we care'. That seems like soft power, I understand it's not optimal, but I think the Court responds. What they really want is for us to put this on page A27 and get over it. And that's our choice, not theirs."

Lots of important stuff here, as I said. Can't really summarize it well enough here, so please tune in.

Also, Lithwick rings in with some thoughts --- which tie into the broader conversation --- on what she expects from John Roberts' Supreme Court following today's ruling by a federal appeals court in Manhattan that Trump's accounting firm, Mazars USA, must turn over some 8 years of his and his company's tax and other financial documents to New York state prosecutors and a similar decision by a federal appeals court in D.C. last month that the same firm must also turn over similar records to Congressional investigators in response to yet another lawful subpoena...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Guest: Constitutional law expert Ian Millhiser on the GOP's ACA challenge and the passing of SCOTUS' 'last great conservative Justice'...
By Brad Friedman on 7/17/2019 6:46pm PT  

The United States, according to our guest today on The BradCast, lost "the last great conservative Justice" on the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday. Justice John Paul Stevens, who lead the liberal wing of SCOTUS before retiring in 2010, passed away on Tuesday at the age of 99 after serving some 35 years on the High Court. IAN MILLHISER, Constitutional law expert, longtime Editor of ThinkProgress Justice and author of the book Injustices: The Supreme Court's History of Comforting the Comfortable and Afflicting the Afflicted joins us today to discuss that loss as well as the rightwing legal challenge seeking to strike down the entirety of the Affordable Care Act. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

We begin today with a conversation about Stevens' remarkable legacy, and how his tenure was so starkly different from the so-called "conservatives" now seated on the GOP's stolen Supreme Court. Nominated to SCOTUS by Republican President Gerald Ford (after being appointed to the federal bench by Richard Nixon), Stevens, as AP eulogizes, "stood for the freedom and dignity of individuals, be they students or immigrants or prisoners. He acted to limit the death penalty, squelch official prayer in schools, establish gay rights, promote racial equality and preserve legal abortion. He protected the rights of crime suspects and illegal immigrants facing deportation. He influenced fellow justices to give foreign terrorism suspects held for years at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, naval base the right to plead for their release in U.S. courts." All positions now seen as "liberal".

And yet, Stevens said during a 2007 interview that he did not think of himself as liberal, but rather as "pretty darn conservative". Millhiser explains how Stevens was able to separate the law from politics, including his own personal preferences, while remaining true to the Constitution and both the rule of law and Court precedent --- all issues which those who call themselves "conservative" today seem to have a difficult time understanding or respecting.

"When he got on the Court, he was widely viewed as a center-right judge. He personally held very, very conservative views. But what made Justice Stevens a great judge was that he knew his political views didn't matter when he was a judge. He knew that regardless of what he thought about minimum wage, or Obamacare, or whatever else, his job was to be faithful to the law and the Constitution," Millhiser tells me. "He was able to set his political views aside and let the law work. And that is all you can ask for in a judge. If we had conservatives like John Paul Stevens right now, who understand that law and politics are separate, we would be in a much better place as a country."

Moreover, as I note at the top of the show, based on my own reporting from 2013, Stevens was willing to admit when he got cases wrong. That year he conceded that his 2008's controlling opinion in Crawford v. Marion County Board of Elections --- the case which approved Indiana's Republican law requiring voters to present Photo ID at the polling place before being allowed to vote --- was ultimately the wrong decision. That SCOTUS opinion has been falsely cited by GOPers across the country as confirmation that Photo ID restriction laws do not suppress legal votes, but help prevent illegal ones. That is both inaccurate and decidedly not what the Court found that case. In 2013, Stevens conceded, "as a matter of actual history," dissenting Justice David Souter was "dead right" in his opposition and warnings about how the precedent would be abused to suppress the vote.

As to the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) challenge we had originally booked Millhiser to discuss before news of Stevens' passing, oral arguments in Texas v. United States were heard in New Orleans last week before a three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. In his coverage for ThinkProgress, Millhiser, who was in the courtroom, describes the hearing before two Republican-appointed judges (one by George W. Bush, the other by Donald Trump) and one Democratic-appointee as a "disaster for Obamacare".

On today's show, he explains the "dumb" and "ridiculous" basis for the case brought by some 20 Republican state Attorneys General --- and now joined by Trump's Dept. of Justice --- and how the challengers specifically filed it in a Texas jurisdiction, a "a kangaroo court", where they knew they could get a favorable ruling from the lower court judge and were likely to get a similar ruling from the rightwing 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. He describes the suit as "the stupidest case I have ever seen", but notes that the appellate court's three-judge panel --- "the two Republicans on this panel were really wacky and behaved in a really partisan way in the oral arguments" --- may ultimately uphold the lower court ruling, at least in part.

Nonetheless he believes the case cannot possibly pass muster at the U.S. Supreme Court given previous rulings on ObamaCare by Chief Justice John Roberts. However, he has a caveat: that prediction only holds if the makeup of the High Court when the case ultimately reaches SCOTUS remains the same as it is today. That, as Millhiser cautions, is not a guarantee. "If Trump gets another vote, all bets are off." And there are ways that both the 5th Circuit and the Republicans challenging the landmark healthcare law could hedge that timing, depending on how quickly they act and how long they delay both the court's decision and any subsequent appeal.

While the basis for this case, he details, is so absurdly thin, that may not mean it will fail, even if, as Millhiser observes, an estimated 24,000 Americans will die each year if the ACA is entirely struck down as plaintiffs seek --- and as the lower court judge already ruled should happen.

Finally, there was a flurry of breaking news coming over the wires as we spoke with Millhiser today, including Democrats in the House scuttling a vote on Articles of Impeachment against Trump; the House voting to hold AG William Barr and Commerce Sec. Wilbur Ross in criminal contempt and MA prosecutors dismissing sex assault charges against actor Kevin Spacey. And then we close today with a few thoughts on the House Dems successful vote on Tuesday for a resolution finding Donald Trump's (legally) racist tweets attacking four freshmen Congresswomen of color were, in fact, racist, and on the 4 Republicans in the 197-seat GOP House caucus willing to vote in favor of that resolution...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern; Also: Biden plummets, Harris and Warren spike in new polling after first 2020 Dem debate; Callers ring in...
By Brad Friedman on 7/1/2019 6:22pm PT  

After our two-day Special Coverage of the first 2020 Democratic Presidential Debate last week (Night ONE here, Night TWO here), we begin on today's BradCast to get caught up with some of the important news that we were unable to adequately focus on last week. (Even it may take a few days to get fully caught up, if ever!) [Audio link to show is posted below.]

First up today, we're joined for one last time this SCOTUS term by MARK JOSEPH STERN, the great legal reporter at Slate who has helped us make sense of the Court's most recent term under its stolen Republican majority, including many of the oral arguments since last Fall in a bunch of important cases and all of the subsequent rulings handed down in the past several weeks. The last of those rulings were, perhaps, the most consequential, and both came smack dab in the middle of Nights ONE and TWO of the Dem debate last week.

Today, Stern details the Court's horrendous (if not unexpected) 5 to 4 partisan ruling finding partisan gerrymandering to be perfectly Constitutional, despite all of the lower federal courts which have found otherwise. That, even though the practice, taken to new computer-precision extremes by the Republican Party following the 2010 Census, has bastardized the notion of fair representation at both the state legislative and Congressional levels. (eg. See North Carolina, which largely votes 50/50 for U.S. House members over the past decade, but has been represented in the House by just 3 Democrats and 10 Republicans over all of those years!) Stern describes the majority ruling, penned by Chief Justice John Roberts, as a "crushing defeat for voting rights" and a "fiasco for democracy". He explains how the rightwing majority ruling debunks the Chief Justice's own claim that he is the Court's "most aggressive defender of the First Amendment" in that extreme partisan gerrymandering blatantly robs voters of their First Amendment rights by punishing Americans for their partisan leaning, stripping them of the ability to be fairly represented.

"Partisan gerrymandering is uniquely evil and difficult to fix," Stern argues, "because it attacks the foundations of democracy. It entrenches a certain political party's power almost indefinitely, and creates a map that will hold even if the state votes against that party." Now, says Stern, the legal battle to rollback rigged election maps moves to the state court level instead, since SCOTUS has now determined that federal courts have no say in the matter (even though they long ago found racial gerrymanders, if not partisan ones, to be a violation of the Constitution.) "That's why this is the 'nightmare' scenario," he tells me. "Because if the legislature can't fix it --- and why would it fix it, they love what they've done --- you really have to rely on the courts to step in and fix it. And now Chief Justice Roberts has said that the federal courts are not going to hear these claims, that they're shut out forever. That leaves few avenues for relief for voters in these states."

We also get Stern's thoughts --- and callers who ring in on the topic as well today --- on whether Democrats, in states which they control after the 2020 Census should similarly use extreme partisan gerrymandering tactics to balance the scales by keeping Republicans out of power in such states, given that the High Court has granted its blessing for such tactics.

And, speaking of the Census, the other major ruling dropped last Thursday by SCOTUS was on whether or not the Trump Administration may add a question on citizenship to the 2020 Census. In that case, Roberts joined with the Court's liberals to reject the government's claim that they were simply hoping to add the question at the request of the Dept. of Justice in order to better enforce the Voting Rights Act. That transparently false claim was rejected by Roberts who wrote that it "appears to have been contrived".

In fact, it was, as several lower courts have ruled, even before the evidence from the hard drive of a recently deceased GOP gerrymandering expert revealed the entire charade was specifically meant to decrease the response rate by Hispanic and other immigrant communities in order to shift federal funding and voting power to Republicans and non-Hispanic whites. So, that decision was the good news. The not-as-good-news is that Roberts also left the door open for the Administration to try again with a less pretextual reason for adding the question, if they can come up with one. Or, as Stern sums up Roberts' directive in four words today: "Lie better next time." Whether the Trump Administration can do so before the deadline to send the Census to the printer (which, the Admin previously argued in court was a hard deadline of July 1, but now says "well, maybe October would be fine?") remains to be seen.

Next we open up the phone lines to listeners on last week's Democratic debate in Miami. Who do listeners feel did better than expected? Who did worse? The first polling is out today from CNN following last week's debate, finding a pretty huge shift among the Dem and Dem-leaning electorate. The survey finds Senators Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren are up 9 and 8 points respectively, while Joe Biden has fallen 10 points since the last CNN poll. That places Harris, Warren and Sen. Bernie Sanders (whose support dropped a few points) all now within just over 5 points from the former Vice President and perceived "front runner" for the Democratic nomination. That pretty seismic shift all comes after just one single debate...with about 11 more to come in the months ahead...

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Guests: Heather Digby Parton and Dave Johnson; Also: Bad news from SCOTUS on partisan gerrymandering, slightly better news on next year's U.S. Census...
By Brad Friedman on 6/27/2019 5:11pm PT  

Our special coverage of Wednesday's night's first 2020 Democratic Presidential Debate from Miami is momentarily waylaid at the top of today's BradCast, for quick coverage of two major, long-awaited opinions released by the Republican's stolen U.S. Supreme Court this morning, the final day of its term before Justices leave for summer recess. [Audio link to show follows below.]

The first opinion, featuring a 5 to 4 Republican- versus Democratic-appointee split, is very bad news for voting rights and democracy advocates on partisan gerrymandering cases out of Maryland and North Carolina. Writing for the GOP majority, Chief Justice John Roberts declared federal courts have no place entering disputes over extreme partisan gerrymandering of state legislative and U.S. House districts, giving a green light to majority-party state lawmakers to use sophisticated computer programs to slice up maps in a way that guarantees majorities for the party in power during the redistricting process following a decennial U.S. Census. Despite lower court rulings finding Republicans in Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin violated the Constitution by drawing statewide U.S. House maps meant to assure Republicans remained in power, even when receiving fewer votes over all, the partisan divided SCOTUS decision now overturns all of those previous rulings, and one out of Maryland where a U.S. House district was drawn Democrats to keep it out of the hands of Republicans.

Critics, including Justice Elana Kagan who penned a blistering minority dissent, note that the SCOTUS majority now leaves it to the very same gerrymandered legislatures who created the undemocratic problem to somehow work it out, even though it may be impossible for opposition lawmakers to gain enough of a foothold to actually change the process under the bastardized maps. In her dissent, Kagan notes partisan gerrymanders "debased and dishonored our democracy, turning upside-down the core American idea that all governmental power derives from the people." Her opinion, representing the High Court's four liberal justices, concludes: "Of all times to abandon the Court's duty to declare the law, this was not the one. The practices challenged in these cases imperil our system of government. Part of the Court's role in that system is to defend its foundations. None is more important than free and fair elections."

All of which makes the Court's other major opinion today, on whether the Trump Administration will be allowed to add a question about citizenship to the 2020 Census, all the more crucial, but slightly better news, for the moment, anyway. In that case, Roberts joined with the court's progressives for a 5 to 4 ruling that bars the Administration, at least for now, from adding the question to next year's Census. In this case, the Chief Justice notes that the Administration's pretextual reasoning for doing so "appears to have been contrived". Indeed, despite warnings by experts at the Census Bureau itself that the question would decrease the response rate by millions, officials at Trump's Dept. of Commerce (which runs the Census Bureau) and the Dept. of Justice lied to both Congress and the Courts about their reason for adding the question.

Evidence has revealed that, in fact, the Administration hoped to include the question specifically in order to under-count immigrant communities in hopes of shifting billions of dollars in federal funding --- and still more voting power --- to "Republicans and non-Hispanic whites" over the next decade. That fact was made clear by, among other things, evidence revealed from the hard drive of the GOP's recently deceased gerrymandering expert. The good news in the Census ruling today is somewhat tempered by the fact that the case has now been sent back to the lower court for further consideration, allowing the Trump Administration another bite at the apple to come up with a more plausible justification --- or at least one that the stolen SCOTUS can more easily accept --- for why they insist on adding the new question before the deadline for printing the 2020 Census. The Administration had previously said that deadline was at the end of this month, though Trump has now asked his attorneys to see if the Census may be postponed.

Then it's on to our Special Coverage of Night One of the first Democratic Debate of the 2020 Presidential cycle, which featured ten candidates in all, including MA Sen. Elizabeth Warren; former TX Rep. Beto O'Rourke; MN Sen. Amy Klobuchar; NJ Sen. Cory Booker; former HUD Secretary and San Antonio, TX mayor Julian Castro; NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio; WA Gov. Jay Inslee; OH Rep. Tim Ryan; former MD Rep. John Delaney; and HI Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.

We're joined for today's special coverage by Salon's and Hulaballo's award-winning columnist HEATHER DIGBY PARTON and Seeing the Forest's DAVE JOHNSON, formerly a Senior Fellow at the progressive Campaign for America's Future.

Parton and Johnson offer post-debate analysis and smart insight on as many of those candidates as we can possibly fit in to the hour, along with thoughts on which of them exceeded, met or under-performed expectations; why it is that Democrats appear (foolishly) to be shying away from taking on Donald Trump directly, despite the extraordinary threat he and his Presidency pose to the nation and the world; how Democrats, as a party, now appear to be approaching issues such as taking on corporate monopolies, the need for universal access to healthcare as a human right (and the strange question about abolishing private health care insurance), foreign wars and more. We also discuss, as raised --- but largely unanswered --- during Wednesday's debate, how a Democratic President might counter obstructionist Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell should the GOP maintain control of the U.S. Senate after 2020.

All of that, of course, is just a sampling of the sweeping ground we cover on today's very busy and very lively BradCast, as we await Night Two, with another ten candidates, to be covered on our next program!...

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Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern; Also: Dems pass $4.5B emergency funding for border - with strings; Mueller to testify in open hearings; Kellyanne Conway subpoenaed by House; NRATV finally shuts down...
By Brad Friedman on 6/26/2019 5:11pm PT  

Before our guest joins us on today's BradCast --- and in advance of the Democrats' first two-night 2020 Presidential Candidate Debate in Miami (which we'll be covering over the next two BradCasts), some very quick news headlines today. [Audio link to complete show is posted below]

  • House Democrats have called Donald Trump's and Republicans' bluff by passing a $4.5 billion supplemental spending bill to cover border-related costs for children and other migrants being held in squalid, overcrowded conditions, with children not even being given soap or toothbrushes and forced to sleep on cold cement floors. The House bill also places some restrictions on how that funding can be spent, unlike the Senate version of a similar emergency supplemental spending measure for $4.6 billion. Some on Team Trump have called for vetoing the House version. The conflicting bills will somehow need to be reconciled before final passage, though it's unclear how that can happen before lawmakers leave town for their week-long July 4th recess;
  • On Tuesday night, the Chairs of the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees announced that former Special Counsel Robert Mueller has agreed to appear --- after being subpoenaed --- for testimony in open sessions to both House panels, one after the other, on July 17th. He is expected to give answers to lawmakers about his two-year probe of alleged Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election, the Trump Campaign's cooperation with that effort, and Donald Trump's repeated, unlawful (and impeachable) attempts to obstruct the Special Counsel's federal investigation;
  • Speaking of House testimony, the Oversight Committee voted on Wednesday to subpoena Trump's senior adviser Kellyanne Conway for testimony following a recent finding from the Trump-appointed head of an independent federal watchdog agency recommending Conway be fired for multiple violations of the federal Hatch Act. That Federal law bars public officials from using their office for partisan campaign purposes. Conway failed to show up voluntarily on Wednesday, so will now face a subpoena forcing her to do so --- at least in theory. Trump has refused to fire Conway, despite her repeated violations of the law, and his White House has, so far, taken extraordinary (and likely unlawful) measures to block Congressional testimony by White House officials;
  • Oh, and it was announced today that NRATV is finally shutting down amid internecine fighting, scandal and criminal probes of the terrorist-supporting NRA, which appears to have really shot itself in the foot. We send them our thoughts and prayers at this difficult time;

Then, we're joined once again today by the great MARK JOSEPH STERN, Slate's ace legal reporter and, as the end of SCOTUS' term wraps up before summer, our ever-insightful Supreme Court correspondent! There were a bevy of opinions issued by the Court over the past week, even as most received little fanfare or attention by the media. Trump's war-mongering with Iran and worsening child detention problems on the border are just some of the reasons for that. But also, the biggest expected rulings --- on whether a citizenship question may be added to the 2020 Census, despite Trump Administrations lies about it, and on whether states may employ partisan gerrymandering for electoral advantage --- are still to come at any moment now. In the meantime, while the many opinions issued over the past week, in and of themselves, may not have been marquee rulings, many, as Stern explains, have serious consequences.

More importantly, however, as we discuss today, the new rulings offer some pretty HUGE SCREAMING RED SIRENS about the direction that the Republicans' stolen U.S. Supreme Court now intends to go, with their far-right majority now firmly ensconced. A number of opinions in several of the cases offered some pretty clear projections that this Court intends to overturn decades, if not centuries, of legal court precedent, case law, and even thousands of federal laws in the bargain.

Among the many decisions we discuss in some detail today:

  • A contorted ruling that allows a 94-year old religious monument to fallen WWI soldiers to remain on government property despite being a clear violation of the Constitution's Establishment Clause separating Church and State;
  • The case of an African American man whose death sentence was, thankfully, overturned after a state prosecutor in Mississippi repeatedly excluded African American jurors from sitting on the six different trials the man has, so far, faced for a case of multiple murders that it seems quite likely he had nothing at all to do with;
  • An opinion that overturns decades and perhaps centuries of property rights case law;
  • Another that comes within a hair's breadth of striking down hundreds, if not thousands of federal laws passed by Congress over our nation's history;
  • And a decision that overturns decades of trademark law which the court found to be FUCT. (We explain on the show, while avoiding any potential FCC language violations in the bargain! You're welcome!)

In all, we cover quite a bit of ground today, with some important details --- far more than I can cover here --- that you should definitely tune in for, if only so that you can't later say nobody warned you!

"This is the term when the Justices pretty much rip up stare decisis," explains Stern, citing the legal term for the custom of respecting court precedent, "or at least get out their lighters and lay the kindling. In a number of cases the conservative Justices have just decided that they've had enough with precedent, they're ready to make the Constitution say what they want it to say. Doesn't matter what previous courts have ruled."

Stern warns: "For the most part, the Justices have been swinging for the rafters. They do not feel hemmed in by many limitations. You're seeing unbridled exercise of judicial power --- the kind of thing that [Chief Justice] Roberts said during his confirmation hearings he would never resort to."

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Guest: Slate legal reporter Mark Joseph Stern; Also: Trump lauds socialism at 'campaign kickoff'; WH, DoJ nix Hicks testimony in House; Trump EPA to help kill thousands with new roll back of Obama coal regs...
By Brad Friedman on 6/19/2019 6:34pm PT  

On today's BradCast, after what seems like a too-long absence, we're joined again today by Slate legal reporter MARK JOSEPH STERN for insight on the first batch of U.S. Supreme Court opinions issued at term's end this week. [Audio link to show follows below.]

But first today, mercifully brief coverage of Donald Trump's re-election campaign launch in Orlando, Florida on Tuesday night. While the rally followed the same tired pattern of pretty much all of the campaign rallies he's held non-stop since becoming President --- (Remember when the GOP and Fox 'News' used to complain that Obama was holding campaign rallies as President, rather than governing? That was darling.) --- the usual recitation of Trump lies and nonsense also included a fascinating reference to Republican opposition to "socialism" just one mere breath before Trump (falsely) touted GOP support for protecting much-beloved socialist programs such as Social Security and Medicare. The irony, no doubt, was lost on most of his brain-poisoned followers on hand or watching via the Fox "News" disinformation channel.

On Capitol Hill today, Democrats in the House Judiciary Committee finally heard testimony from a former Trump official in the aftermath of the damning Robert Mueller Special Counsel report. Longtime Trump aid Hope Hicks --- who worked with him before his campaign, during it, during the transition and in the White House --- cooperated with the Mueller probe and is cited within it as a witness about 180 times. She agreed to testify today, though only behind closed doors, with a transcript to be released later. However, White House and DoJ Attorneys were also on hand to continue what Committee member Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) described as "obstruction of justice in action". The lawyers issued objections to any and all questions related to Hicks' service with Trump as President, asserting "absolute immunity" from such questions. That is a newly invented "privilege" from the White House and DoJ which Lieu described as "not a thing. It doesn't exist." Lawmakers suggest the result will be court action to force Hicks' testimony on her time at the White House, now that she is a private citizen (who works for Fox "News"). Even House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who is still opposed to opening an official impeachment inquiry, reportedly described the new White House offensive as "obstruction of justice", which --- in case she needs a reminder --- is one of the offenses included in the Articles of Impeachment for both Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton.

Also in D.C. today, the Trump Environmental Protection Agency, now headed by "former" coal industry lobbyist Andrew Wheeler, officially replaced President Obama's Clean Power Plan, meant to curb global warming greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants, with a new rule that makes the reduction of emissions optional for states. Even while coal plants have been shutting down across the country over the past two years in favor of cheaper, cleaner natural gas and renewable energy production, the Administration is implementing the new rule which, according to the EPA's own analysis, will result in thousands of unnecessary deaths per year. The new rule parallels a similar effort by the Trump Administration to roll back new mileage standards implemented by Obama with the cooperation of the auto industry, which the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says will save thousands of lives as well. So, yes, Trump is now purposely killing Americans and lying about it by claiming U.S. air and water has never been cleaner. That, according to actual findings from the Government, is also untrue, as pollution has increased over the past two years since Trump became President.

We're then joined by Slate's Stern for a review of this week's SCOTUS rulings and an explanation for some of the "strange bedfellow" partnerships found in several of them. Among the opinions discussed today...

  • A Supreme Court "punt if I've ever seen one," according to Stern, on a case involving yet another bigoted baker, this time in Portland, who refused to sell a wedding cake to a same-sex couple. The Justices sent that case back down to the lower court for review, though Stern suggests they are largely buying time before being forced to determine, once and for all, whether discrimination against LGBTQ people is Constitutional. "The Court can't duck this forever," says Stern;
  • The largely good news ruling of the week is for voters in Virginia, where a 5 to 4 majority opinion results in new, fairer, more competitive legislative districts in advance of the Commonwealth's statewide elections this November. The Justices held that the GOP-gerrymandered House of Delegates did not have standing to appeal new legislative maps implemented by lower courts to correct 11 districts found to have been unlawfully and unconstitutionally racially gerrymandered following the 2010 Census. Only the state's Attorney General, a Democrat, who initially challenged the ruling on behalf of the state but later declined to appeal the lower court's ultimate ruling, has such standing, the majority determined.

    But the majority opinion, written by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was joined, unsurprisingly, by Justices Elana Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, and much more surprisingly by Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch! Moreover, the minority dissent, penned by rightwing Justice Samuel Alito was also joined by the normally progressive Stephen Breyer. Stern offers an explanation for what appears to be very strange bedfellows on this opinion, and whether the ultimate outcome --- while very good news for Democrats who hope to take control of one or both chambers in the VA legislature this November --- will be good news or bad news for Democrats and Republicans in the future;

  • We then move to what Stern describes as "a tough but interesting case", for his explanation of the Court's affirmation of what has long been considered a loophole in the U.S. Constitution allowing an exception to its restriction on double-jeopardy cases. In fact, as the Court held in a 7-2 decision, virtually identical indictments may be brought against the same person, for the same crime, so long as they are brought in separate State and Federal jurisdictions, which are considered to be "separate sovereigns". On the minority in this case was another odd couple, Ginsberg and Gorsuch, while Thomas --- who previously decried the Double-Jeopardy Loophole by calling for a "fresh examination" of it --- chose not to vote for ending it when he had the opportunity. He did, however, take the opportunity to write a concurrence in the case, calling for reversing other long-held SCOTUS precedents, such as those which allow women the right to choose to have an abortion. "He used his opinion to launch into this crazy attack on precedent, that was clearly laying the groundwork for an attack on cases like Roe. vs. Wade" and marriage equality;
  • Finally, Stern offers some thoughts on the Court's expected opinion, due any day now, regarding the Administration's attempt to add a question on citizenship to the 2020 U.S. Census. That determination is still expected, despite evidence unearthed after oral argument that proves the Administration lied about their reasons for adding the question, which, according to the Census Bureau itself, will reduce participation. That, in turn, is expected to radically shift government funding and citizen voting power from Democrats and minorities toward white Republican jurisdictions. We discuss that bizarre matter --- and how SCOTUS can possibly rule on the case now, given the new evidence revealed from the hard drive of a now-deceased GOP gerrymandering expert following the Court's hearing months ago --- and a few of the other expected important decisions to come in the next two weeks before the Justices leave town for Summer vacation...

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Guest: Suzanne Almeida of Common Cause; Also: Lack of campaign finance charges against Don Jr., Manafort threaten 2020 elections...
By Brad Friedman on 3/27/2019 6:02pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Something seemingly very interesting may have occurred at Tuesday's oral arguments on two separate, if related, partisan redistricting cases at the U.S. Supreme Court. The results, believe it or not, could change the outcome from what many voting rights advocates had previously predicted following the resignation of Justice Anthony Kennedy and the subsequent seating of his far-right replacement Justice Brett Kavanaugh. [Audio link to complete show is posted at end of article.]

The scourge of state legislative and Congressional maps drawn for partisan advantage by the party in power after a decennial Census has crippled democracy and the voting power of citizens for decades in the U.S. But the GOP dramatically upped the stakes following the 2010 Census when they employed highly sophisticated computer mapping techniques to ensure themselves huge electoral advantages over the ensuing ten years by drawing extremely partisan maps that "packed" Democrats into a small number of districts or "cracked" them among several in order to dilute the voting power of non-Republicans.

It's a practice that Democrats have carried out as well, if not to the same extreme as Republicans who took over many statehouses in the 2010 "red wave" election. A new analysis from AP finds that 2018's "blue tsunami" election, for example, would have been much larger for Congressional Democrats, were it not for many extremely partisan GOP-drawn maps in a number of key states, including North Carolina, Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, Alabama and Texas. The AP study finds "Republicans won about 16 more U.S. House seats" than they would have under fair maps. Similarly, "Republicans' structural advantage might have helped them hold on to as many as seven [state legislative] chambers that otherwise could have flipped to Democrats."

While the U.S. Supreme Court has long found gerrymanders on a racial basis to be unconstitutional, they've yet to affirm the many lower court rulings finding partisan gerrymanders to be similarly unconstitutional. Last term, when many believed SCOTUS was prepared to do so, the Court punted instead on several cases of extreme partisan maps in Wisconsin, North Carolina and elsewhere, before Justice Kennedy --- thought to have been the likely swing-vote in favor of ending the odious practice --- announced his retirement.

On Tuesday, one of those cases, Common Cause v. Rucho --- where a federal appeals court determined (twice!) that North Carolina's Congressional maps were unlawfully skewed for Republicans (they've held a 10 to 3 advantage in their Congressional delegation for the past decade, despite the state being almost evenly divided between Republican and Democratic voters) --- was heard again at SCOTUS. Another case, Benesik v. Lamone, in which a single Congressional district in Maryland was drawn by Democrats specifically to remove an incumbent Republican, was heard as well.

And while many voting rights advocates have not had high hopes for either case, given the even farther-right leaning majority on the court following Kennedy's retirement, there were some surprises during oral argument, particularly from Justice Kavanaugh whose decision in one or both of the cases could change history by delivering a major win for voting rights.

We're joined today to discuss these potentially encouraging developments with SUZANNE ALMEIDA, Redistricting and Representation Counsel for Common Cause, the lead plaintiff in the NC case. She was in the Court on Tuesday for both hearings and explains what seems to have happened, offers insight on what could now occur, decries why these cases are so important, and what may happen when SCOTUS finally delivers it's crucial opinion in June in advance of both the crucial 2020 elections and the subsequent redistricting of all 50 states that will follow the 2020 Census.

"The North Carolina case is a particularly egregious case, for a couple of reasons," Almeida tells me. "One is that we have an admission. On the floor of the General Assembly, Representative Lewis leaned into a microphone and said, 'This is a partisan gerrymander. I wanted to this map to be 10-3 because it couldn't be 11-2.' That's not the way that map-drawing should work, and that's not the way representation should work in America." She also discusses, for example, how one district line drawn by the GOP in North Carolina actually splits an historically African-American college in two, so that its voters are diluted into two separate Republican-leaning districts.

As to the matter concerning Kavanaugh, who was reportedly disturbed by his own district in Maryland, where he lives, being gerrymandered by Democrats to prevent Republican representation, Almeida confirms that he seemed to want to find a standard that could be used by courts to determine if districts were unlawfully gerrymandered on a partisan basis. She says she shares "the characterization that Justice Kavanaugh has a personal interest in the Maryland case ... And he was pushing back quite strongly against the advocate for the state."

Almeida also pushed back at the notion from Justices on the right that Courts should simply stay out of these matters, and leave them to voters and the legislators who drew the maps to keep themselves in power in the first place, she tells me: "This idea that the Court has that somehow this is self-correcting, or will fix itself through the magic of the political process, just doesn't work. And that's because gerrymandering is about power, and people in power staying in power. And when the people in power have that power to make the rules and draw the lines, that's what they're going to keep doing."

She adds that comments from Kavanaugh and even Chief Justice Roberts during the proceedings on Tuesday are "reason to be optimistic". But I'll wait until the opinions come out in June before popping any champagne bottles on what could be, according to Mark Joseph Stern at Slate the "most important voting rights victory of the century so far."

Also on today's program: Speaking of 2020, some curious questions about why nobody from Team Trump --- particularly Donald Trump Jr. or campaign chair Paul Manafort --- has yet been charged with campaign finance violations regarding "soliciting" and/or "accepting" a "thing of value" from a foreign government, as clearly occurred in relation to the now-infamous June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with a number of Russian nationals. Election law expert Rick Hasen argues that the lack of indictments brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller in this matter does not bode well for the Dept. of Justice's plans to enforce election laws that bar "foreign governments from sharing information --- even information obtained from illegal hacking --- with campaigns, for the purposes of influencing the 2020 election...and beyond"...

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McConnell won't allow Senate vote on HR-1 or restoration of Voting Rights Act; Also: Hand-marked paper ballots for PA County; Cohen sues Trump Org; Brown won't run in 2020; GOPers re-thinking climate denial...
By Brad Friedman on 3/7/2019 6:18pm PT  

54 years to the day after the Bloody Sunday march in Selma, Alabama led to the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965, and nearly 6 years following the rightwing U.S. Supreme Court's gutting of the VRA's most crucial provision, Republicans in Congress are still both blocking its restoration and working to prevent the Democrats' newly introduced and much-needed effort to expand voting rights. That's just one of a number of outrages on today's BradCast, otherwise brought to you with no small measures of hope to counter-balance the outrages. [Audio link to today's complete show is posted below.]

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

  • Michael Cohen is suing the Trump Organization for at least $1.9 million dollars to cover his legal expenses which they had apparently promised to pay --- at least until Cohen began cooperating with federal investigators.
  • Another worthy Democratic Senator, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, announces he will not seek the Democratic nomination in 2020. He joins Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon, former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former Attorney General Eric Holder and (for the most part) Hillary Clinton who all declared this week that they will not be seeking the Presidency this year.
  • Some good news for voters out of the Republican-leaning Butler County, Pennsylvania. Officials there have decided to dump their 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems in favor of hand-marked paper ballots. The local news report of this common sense measure in at least this one corner of the important swing-state is somewhat of a hoot, as we share on today's program.
  • Meanwhile, back in Congress, House Democrats will soon be holding a vote on HR-1, the "For the People Act", a massive elections and ethics measure which, among things things, calls for automatic universal voter registration; the expansion of early voting; an end to mass voter purges; independent redistricting commissions to avoid partisan gerrymandering; allows every voter in America to cast their vote on a hand-marked paper ballot; endorses D.C. statehood; requires disclosure of funders to dark money groups; and requires Presidential candidates to release their tax returns. Naturally, Republicans oppose the measure, and Mitch McConnell vows to not allow it to see the light of day in the U.S. Senate, even if it passes in the U.S. House as expected.
  • Similarly, Democrats in the House and Senate have introduced the Voting Rights Advancement Act, a bill to restore Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, by reinstating the requirement for the federal government to pre-approve new election-related laws in jurisdictions with a history of racial discrimination at the polls. Naturally, Republicans oppose the measure, and Mitch McConnell vows to not allow it to see the light of day in the U.S. Senate, even if it passes in the U.S. House as expected.
  • Next, there is some curious movement in the Republican Congressional caucus in regard to climate change. Clearly reading the writing on the wall, as the public overwhelmingly not only believes in global warming but is becoming increasingly concerned about it, longtime GOP science deniers in both the House and Senate are finally admitting that man-made greenhouse gas emissions are the cause of it. The recent introduction of the wildly popular Green New Deal by Democrats --- a sweeping effort to move the nation to 100% carbon-neutral energy sources and provide millions of jobs over the next ten years --- is another reason Republicans are now acknowledging they must do something about climate change, if only for appearances. We discuss what could be a sea-change (or not) in this long, existential battle today.
  • Finally, on related matters, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with disturbing news on toxic coal ash waste found in groundwater in 39 states, plastic pollution found in the deepest parts of the ocean, former military officials slamming the Trump Administration over their climate change denial, and Democrats vowing --- as they now are with elections and voting rights, as well --- to go on the offensive in the U.S. Senate...

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Legal scholars find DoJ opinion fails to consider Constitutional measure for Executive Branch continuity during a President's criminal trial...
By Ernest A. Canning on 12/17/2018 9:35am PT  

So long as there is a prospect for the issuance of a pardon by a Vice President once he/she becomes President, or the expiration of the statute of limitations while a President remains in office, the indictment of a sitting President may be the "only" constitutional means for ensuring "Equal Justice Under Law".

That conclusion, of course, is at odds with the official U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) position that a sitting President cannot be indicted until after he/she leaves office. The DoJ's position is based upon the December 10, 2000 Opinion issued by the DoJ's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), citing an earlier OLC opinion that "the institution of criminal proceedings 'would interfere with the President's unique official duties, most of which cannot be performed by anyone else.'"

But that position is flawed and is being challenged by a number of legal scholars, including Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe, a preeminent constitutional expert, whose famous former students include Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts and President Barack Obama.

In a December 10 Boston Globe op-ed and during a subsequent appearance on MSNBC's Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell (see video below), Tribe noted that the long-controversial OLC opinion lacks the force of a judicial precedent and is at odds with the legal accountability required of all federal officers, including the President...

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




Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern with legal insight on a fire hose of news, from Ivanka's emails to Whitaker's appointment to Trump's trouble in court to encouraging midterm push-back against partisan gerrymandering...
By Brad Friedman on 11/20/2018 6:43pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we fly through a mountain of incoming stories (with the help of a great guest!) as the news gods seem to be unleashing a tidal wave in advance of the Thanksgiving Day holiday. [Audio link posted below. Buckle up before clicking.]

Among the ridiculous number of stories covered today...

  • Five are dead after three shootings in three different states over the past 24 hours;
  • Despite warning of an "invasion" on the U.S. southern border by a migrant caravan from Central America prior to the midterm elections, now that the elections are done, the Trump Administration is reportedly withdrawing more than 5,000 military troops they had deployed to the border just weeks ago;
  • The President's daughter and senior adviser Ivanka Trump reportedly sent hundreds of government related emails via a private email server over the course of 2017 in the months following her father's election in which he repeatedly called for his opponent, Hillary Clinton, to be "locked up" for doing the same thing. Ivanka's husband, Jared Kushner, also a senior adviser to Trump, reportedly used the same private server for government-related communications.

On the election results front...

  • Republican Rep. Will Hurd has reportedly squeaked out a victory over Democratic challenger Gina Ortiz Jones in Texas' 23rd Congressional District. The contest was among a handful of still-undecided races;
  • At the same time, Democrat Ben McAdams appears to have pulled back into the lead over GOP Rep. Mia Love in Utah's 4th Congressional District, where it now appears McAdams will be the victor by fewer than 700 votes out of some 270,000 tallied, flipping yet another U.S. House seat from "red" to "blue". The final margin is reportedly 0.258%, just above the 0.25% that would have allowed Love to request a recount in the otherwise ruby "red" state.
  • When the few remaining undecided U.S. House seats are called, Democrats appear on track to have picked up an extraordinary 39 seats in their "blue wave".
  • One of the three still-undecided House races is in Georgia, where this year's Libertarian candidate for Sec. of State has now endorsed Democratic candidate John Barrow in the upcoming December 4th runoff against Republican Brad Raffensperger to replace GA's vote suppressing Sec. of State, now Governor-elect Brian Kemp;
  • In Wisconsin, Democrats won every single statewide race on November 6th, including Governor (unseating Scott Walker) and U.S. Senate. They also outvoted Republicans in State Assembly races by 8 percentage points, 54 to 46 percent. Nonetheless, thanks to the GOP's extreme partisan gerrymandering in the Badger State, Republicans will hold 63 seats to the Democrats' 36 in the new Assembly;

The great (and newly wed!) MARK JOSEPH STERN, legal journalist at Slate, joins us to discuss how voters pushed back against gerrymandering this year by approving ballot initiatives --- and other measures --- in several states on November 6th, in an attempt to restore fair(er) elections in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court opting to not strike down partisan gerrymanders as unconstitutional in states such as Wisconsin and North Carolina earlier this year. Among the many other issues we fly through with Stern today, on which he offers his as-always cogent legal insight...

  • Ivanka and Hillary's email issues (Stern hopes a Democratic House investigation will result in real reform to the "arguably improper" if not unlawful use of private email by officials like Trump and Clinton, though not in the opportunistic political fashion that GOPers previously dealt with the issue);
  • Trump's appointment of GOP operative Matthew Whitaker as Acting Attorney General (which Stern describes as blatantly "illegal" and, he believes, very likely to be struck down by the Courts). He also describes the DoJ's legal defense of the maneuver as "laughable";
  • A federal court on Monday night blocked the Trump Administration's new regulation denying asylum claims by immigrants who fail to present themselves at a port of entry (Stern explains the judge found the Administration's new rule to be in strict violation of federal laws, and predicts that even Chief Justice John Roberts, based on similar rulings he made against the Obama Administration, will be forced to agree when the case reaches SCOTUS);
  • The decision by a Trump-appointed federal judge to order the White House to restore press credentials to CNN's Jim Acosta (Stern is impressed with the Trump judge's anti-Trump ruling, I remain a bit more skeptical);
  • And how (and why) Trump's controversial new Justice Brett Kavanaugh has, so far, laid low by not yet fuly tossing in with the Court's nihilist right-wing caucus.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report as the catastrophic wildfires continue to burn in California, Trump shows up to make things worse, and a coming turn in the weather signals both good news and bad for firefighters and recovery workers amid the record disaster...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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Guest: Fordham Law's Jed Shugerman; Also: More reported vote.org registration probs; Vote-flipping in MO; Willie Nelson's 'Vote 'em Out!'...
By Brad Friedman on 10/5/2018 6:46pm PT  

On today's BradCast, the GOP's far-right take-over of the U.S. Supreme Court for generations --- including one blatantly stolen seat and two men accused of sexual misconduct and/or assault --- is now all but complete, and we discuss an upcoming SCOTUS case that some have cited as reason for the Trump/GOP panic to get their man on the bench as soon as possible. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

On Friday, the four theoretically previously-undecided U.S. Senators announced how they planned to vote on the confirmation of accused sexual assaulter and confirmed liar Brett Kavanaugh for his lifetime appointment to SCOTUS. Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska announced her intention to vote against him, while Republicans Susan Collins of Maine, Jeff Flake of Arizona and Democrat Joe Manchin all declared they will vote in favor of the most contentious nominee to the high court, perhaps in U.S. history. We discuss what all of that means today, moving forward, as the far-right cements its stolen majority. As you might imagine, both Desi and I have some thoughts on all of that today.

Then, we're joined by legal historian and Fordham Law School professor JED SHUGERMAN, author of The People's Courts, to discuss the upcoming Supreme Court case that many Trump opponents have cited in recent days as one of the explanations for Republicans' apparent panic to seat Kavanaugh on the Court as quickly as possible. The case, Gamble v. U.S., involves what some on both the Right and civil libertarian Left consider to be unconstitutional double jeopardy regarding an Alabama man who was convicted at both the state and federal levels for unlawful possession of a firearm. Some Trump critics have suggested, depended on how its decided, that the case could result in states being barred from prosecuting Donald Trump, his associates, or his family members in the event that they are pardoned at the federal level.

Shugerman --- who was one of more than 2,400 legal professors to sign on to a recent letter published by the New York Times calling on the Senate to reject Kavanaugh's nomination due to his lack of appropriate judicial temperament --- explains why he believes the Gamble case poses no threat to state prosecutions of Trump and/or his associates, nor to Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation and prosecution of Team Trump.

He also explains today why he signed the public letter opposing Kavanaugh, how it now may affect lawyers who signed it when arguing cases before Justice Kavanaugh, why he believes the GOP has been in such a hurry to seat Kavanaugh, and the "completely unprecedented" public opposition to him by former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens.

Shugerman also describes some of his major concerns for the Court once Kavanaugh is finally in place: how Chief Justice John Roberts is going to be forced to deal with it. "How is he going to manage this explosive controversy and the unprofessional conduct, the injudicious conduct, of Judge Kavanaugh? How will he restore consensus to this Court? How will he manage Judge Kavanaugh, given that he should have reason to fear that Judge Kavanaugh cannot be balanced, and won't be perceived to be balanced when he's on the Court?"

Finally today, some listener mail regarding more voter registration problems via the vote.org service (we recommend registering either in-person or via your Sec. of State or County website, rather than via third-party app, is possible); the first reports of 100% unverifiable touchscreen vote-flipping in the general election (in the very close U.S. Senate race in Missouri between Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill and her GOP challenger Josh Hawley); and Willie Nelson's new song, Vote 'em Out!, debuted for the first time at last weekend's 55,000-person rally in Texas, in support of Democratic Congressman Beto O'Rourke's surging campaign against Lone Star State Republican Sen. Ted Cruz...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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Guest: Legal reporter Mark Joseph Stern on 'Korematsu 2.0' and how the GOP's theft of the Supreme Court has finally paid off big time...
By Brad Friedman on 6/26/2018 6:27pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The U.S. Supreme Court seat stolen by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his Senate Republicans --- who carried out the unprecedented blockade of President Obama's SCOTUS nominee Merrick Garland for almost a year following the death of Antonin Scalia --- paid off in spades today in two separate 5 to 4 decisions which should forever have an asterisk next to them in the history books. [Audio link to today's show is posted below.]

First up today, however, primary elections are being held in seven states on Tuesday in New York, Maryland, Utah, Colorado and Oklahoma, with primary runoffs in Mississippi and South Carolina. We'll have noteworthy results and problem reports on tomorrow's BradCast, though we already know of one huge problem in Baltimore. (No, it's not a mere "glitch" or "snafu", Baltimore Sun. It is a failure...at the very least!) On Monday night, it was revealed that Maryland failed to include updated voter registration information for some 80,0000 voters who made changes to their party affiliation or residential addresses since April of 2017. The announcement was made by the state late on the evening before Tuesday's elections, in which those voters were forced to vote on provisional ballots at the polls. Those ballots will be included in the results, but won't be tallied until next week.

Then, we're joined again today by Slate's great legal reporter MARK JOSEPH STERN to discuss both of the U.S. Supreme Court's grim rulings today on Trump's Muslim travel ban and on so-called "crisis pregnancy centers", as well as several decisions from Monday --- all of which, Stern correctly points out, would almost certainly have seen the opposite outcome under Garland instead of Justice Neil Gorsuch who has been the "decisive 5th vote" in each of the cases. "Every single one of the decision that we're talking about right now would have come out differently if Justice Merrick Garland were sitting on the Supreme Court right now instead of Justice Neil Gorsuch. We would have an end to partisan gerrymandering, an end to racial gerrymandering, an end to voter suppression, an end to crisis pregnancy centers' efforts to be lawless and not have to comply with basic medical licensing. The travel ban would be struck down. It's almost brutal to think about how all of these cases would turn out if the man who should be on the Court were on the Court."

Stern details Chief Justice John Roberts' 5 to 4 majority opinion in the travel ban case, in which the Court overturned multiple lower courts to uphold Trump's third attempt at banning immigrants and travelers from several majority Muslim countries. As dissenter Justice Sonia Sotomayor also does, Stern compares the ruling to the notoriously shameful 1944 Supreme Court decision in Korematsu v. U.S., which allowed Japanese-Americans to be forced into internment camps during WWII. Today's ruling is being described as "shameful", “hateful" and "racist" by immigration advocates and religious groups alike. Stern calls the decision --- in which Roberts largely dismisses Trump's oft-repeated statements revealing his personal animus towards Muslims --- as "Korematsu 2.0"

"This Court is not as disturbed and disgusted by Trump's approach to immigration as I think a majority of Americans are," he tells me. "This is a Court that's eager to bless the President's moves in the realm of national security, and to basically believe his pretext, even when it's flagrantly B.S"

Sotomayor argues in her dissent: "By blindly accepting the Government's misguided invitation to sanction a discriminatory policy motivated by animosity toward a disfavored group, all in the name of a superficial claim of national security, the Court redeploys the same dangerous logic underlying Korematsu and merely replaces one gravely wrong decision with another."

Stern also details Justice Clarence Thomas' 5 to 4 majority opinion which, under a pretext of First Amendment free speech rights, strikes down California's restrictions on anti-abortionist scam artists posing as phony medical clinics to hoax pregnant women into not receiving abortions. Thomas, charges Stern, "wrote an astonishingly broad decision that effectively says the government has no power to regulate professional speech, no power to regulate medical speech, or doctors' speech, except when they are telling abortion patients not to get abortions." In all, he says, describing how the Court is also targeting voting rights by reversing multiple lower courts in recent rulings, they are "on a kind of tear right now, overturning court after court" and/or using any "flimsy reason to send a case back down" for rehearing.

Yes, elections matter, if you haven't noticed. In the case of the 2016 election, the result will now haunt the U.S. for generations.

Finally today, we're joined by Desi Doyen with the latest Green News Report on the climate changed-fueled flooding in Iowa that resulted in an oil train derailment and hundreds of thousands of gallons of dirty tar sands crude spilled into the drinking water supplies, and other such cheerful news to close out today's program...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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Guest: David Daley of FairVote.org on 'Gill v. Whitford'; Plus: Updates on the disaster in Puerto Rico, gun massacre in Las Vegas...
By Brad Friedman on 10/4/2017 6:28pm PT  

On today's BradCast, the future of American democracy itself is once again in the hands of a now-stolen U.S. Supreme Court, in what democracy advocates describe as a case that is likely to help determine the partisan balance of Congress and state legislatures for decades.

But, first up today: Updates on Donald Trump's embarrassing Tuesday jaunt to hurricane-torn Puerto Rico, where the official death toll has now doubled from 16 to 34 and is expected to go much higher as 3.4 million U.S. citizens on the island still face desperate circumstances with food and water shortages and 95% of the island remains without power two weeks after Hurricane Maria (despite Trump's bizarre claims to the contrary.) Also, a few updates on what little more we now know about the massacre in Las Vegas on Sunday, the lack of a known motive for the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, and the shamefully transparent attempts by both the White House and Congressional Republicans to avoid any legislative policy action in its wake.

Then we move on to what democracy advocates describe as one of the most important cases to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court in years. Oral arguments in Gill v. Whitford were heard on Tuesday. That is the case where a three-judge federal court determined the state of Wisconsin had used severe (and secret) partisan gerrymandering to redraw district maps after the 2010 census. In so doing, despite receiving a minority of votes (48.6%) after the new maps were drawn, Republicans gained an extraordinary 60-to-39 majority in the State Assembly.

The GOP is now appealing that federal court ruling to SCOTUS, which has held racial gerrymandering to be unconstitutional in the past, but has never ruled on whether purely partisan gerrymandering, as in this case, violates the Constitutional rights of voters.

We're joined by the man who wrote the book on modern-day gerrymandering, DAVID DALEY, author of Ratf**ked: The True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America's Democracy. Daley, formerly Editor-in-Chief at Salon, now Senior Fellow at at FairVote.org, spent the night on the sidewalk outside the Court on Monday, to get one of 50 seats at Tuesday's hearing.

He explains how high the stakes are in this case (which could result in court challenges to electoral maps in virtually every state in the union), the arguments presented by both sides in the matter, and how everyone --- attorneys and Justices alike, were focused on making their case to Justice Anthony Kennedy, who will most likely determine the course of U.S. democracy for decades to come, thanks to the Republicans' stolen 5 to 4 majority on the Supreme Court itself.

"This case is everything," Daley tells me. "If this case is not decided on the side of democracy, on the side of competitive elections, there will be nothing to stop Republicans, who are likely to be holding the pens in all of these states in 2021 from doing the same thing, only with more sophisticated technology that's developed over the last decade, with better data analytic skills than they had in 2011, with stronger predictive algorithms to try to figure out where people are going to live and how they are going to vote for the next decade. It will be 2031 before Democrats get another shot at the maps if this case is decided the other way."

Daley sees the case now before the Supremes as "potentially bigger" than either 2010's Citizens United, which gutted campaign finance laws, or 2013's Shelby County, which gutted the Voting Rights Act. "This is the future of our democracy right here."

"Republicans reinvented the gerrymander in 2010 and 2011. This is not the same kind of gerrymander that you had 'back in the day.' This is different," he insists, as I press him on whether Democrats are carrying out the same type of partisan maps in states that they control. "This is space-age extreme gerrymandering on steroids. It has given Republicans huge advantages in all of these states that they control. Ohio, a very swing state, is represented by 12 Republicans and 4 Democrats. Michigan is 9-5, even though Democrats in 2012 got a quarter of a million more votes. These are 50-50 states and it has made our politics deeply uncompetitive. There's no swing in these swing districts. You have not had a single seat go from red to blue in any of those swing states. On these maps, no seats have gone from red to blue this entire decade."

Incredibly, the Republican Justices other than Kennedy seem to believe the matter should not be decided by the courts, but should be left to the same rigged legislatures which created this mess in the first place. "In Michigan, this last decade," he notes, "Democrats have gotten more total votes every time. Republicans have kept control. This is the case in state after state. They have enshrined this problem. We need the Court here to come in and fix democracy"...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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But justice may soon be at hand due to a governmental realignment...
By Ernest A. Canning on 6/15/2017 10:05am PT  

In his April 1963 Letter from a Birmingham Jail, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., lamented: "Justice too long delayed is justice denied". No case underscores the civil rights icon's assertion better than the years long fight by North Carolina Republicans to keep unlawfully gerrymandered state and Congressional district maps in place, long after they've been repeatedly found by courts to be in violation of the law and the Constitution.

The tortured history of Covington v. North Carolina --- a "successful" challenge to the illegal racial gerrymandering of 28 of North Carolina's state House and Senate Districts --- exposes the injustice occasioned by Republican tactical delays. It is a strategy that, thanks to those racial gerrymanders, permitted Tar Heel State Republicans to retain overwhelming majorities in the legislature following last November's General Election –- 34-16 in the state Senate and 74-45 in the House --- even though, in the very same statewide election Democrats Roy Cooper and Joshua Stein were respectively elected governor and attorney general.

But a recent ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court should finally result in new maps, and Special Elections under them, in the Tar Heel State, where the maps have been in place for elections since 2012. Recent legal precedent and a political realignment are on the side of those seeking to force the state to finally carry out those new elections in 2017, rather than waiting for the 2018 mid-terms...

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




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