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Latest Featured Reports | Tuesday, May 21, 2024
Trump Dark Money Group Dumping Tens of Millions on Racist, Transphobic Disinfo Ads: 'BradCast' 5/21/24
Guest: Victoria Cadostin; Also: Rudy arraigned in AZ; Trump defense rests in NY; More...
Sunday 'I Scream Cohen' Toons
THIS WEEK: Unethical Lying Sleazebags ... The Death of Satire ... Trains are Real ... And many more primal screams in our latest collection of the week's best toons...
FEC Repubs Vote to Allow Campaign Donor Anonymity: 'BradCast' 5/16/24
Guest: Public Citizen's Craig Holman; Also: Two (generally) encouraging SCOTUS rulings on CFPB funding and a second Black-majority U.S. House district in Louisiana...
'Green News Report' 5/16/24
  w/ Brad & Desi
Canadian wildfires expand; Climate change exacerbated extreme heat in Asia; Broadcast media ignored Trump's billion dollar Big Oil quid pro quo; Plus: Biden v. China on EVs...
Previous GNRs: 5/14/24 - 5/9/24 - Archives...
Trump Trial Ketchup: Cohen, 'Smoking Gun', 'Cult of Trump': 'BradCast' 5/15/24
Guests: Heather Digby Parton of Salon, attorney Keith Barber of Daily Kos; Also: MD, NE, WV primary results; Biden, Trump agree to early debates...
LAPD Right-Wing Bias in Violent Response to UCLA Protest Was No Surprise
U.S. law enforcement has long sided with the right against peaceful anti-war, environmental, racial and economic injustice protesters...
Could Ohio Repubs REALLY Keep Biden Off the Ballot?!: 'BradCast' 5/14/24
Also: GOP dirty tricks in WA; More GOP voter suppression in GA; Brighter news from WI and on the slow painful death of 'stare decisis'...
'Green News Report' 5/14/24
Canada's fire season erupts; Record-breaking increase in global CO2 levels; PLUS: MI is newest state to sue Big Oil for climate damages...
Recount in Tied House Primary Reveals Probs in CA Law: 'BradCast' 5/13/24
Guest: Dr. John Maa; Also: Bannon denied; Giuliani fired; Menendez trial begins; Cohen takes stand in Trump's NY criminal trial...
Sunday 'Stormy Weather Continues' Toons
THIS WEEK: Cannon Fire ... Catch and Kill ... Parasites ... Protesting Too Much ... and more, in our latest collection of the week's most turbulent toons...
'Green News Report' 5/9/24
Tornadoes across U.S.; FL Repubs ban 'climate change'; House Repubs' latest salvo in 'War on Woke Appliances'; PLUS: US culture shift in portrayal of climate reality...
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...


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 1/18/2024 10:41am PT  


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IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: U.S. Supreme Court's right-wing supermajority appears ready to gut federal agency authority on environmental regulations and more; Social media sites profiting off of a new breed of climate denial, new study finds; PLUS: Frigid Arctic air strands drivers of both electric and gasoline vehicles... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

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Got comments, tips, love letters, hate mail? Drop us a line at GreenNews@BradBlog.com or right here at the comments link below. All GNRs are always archived at GreenNews.BradBlog.com.

IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): An unprecedented flu strain is attacking hundreds of animal species. Humans could be next; 'Control the narrative': Alabama utility wields influence by financing news; EU bans 'misleading' environmental claims that rely on offsetting; Bird populations are declining. Some are in your neighborhood; Dr. Michael Mann’s defamation case over online attacks finally comes to trial... PLUS: These startups are teaming up to decarbonize cement and concrete... and much, MUCH more! ...

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Guest host Nicole Sandler with messaging expert Anat Shenker-Osorio; Also: Trump trials continue; SCOTUS eyes another landmark precedent...
By Desi Doyen on 1/17/2024 5:28pm PT  

Brad is out today, trying to recover once and for all from his rebound case of COVID. So guest host Nicole Sandler joins me (producer Desi Doyen) to bring you a fresh, new BradCast to tickle your ears and brain cells. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Among our stories covered today...

  • The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Wednesday in two important cases: Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo and Relentless v. Department of Commerce. On the surface, the two cases appear to be somewhat innocuous, focused on technical issues about the scope of federal fees and regulations. But, in reality, the cases are vehicles of the fossil fuel industry and rightwing legal groups to achieve their long-sought goal of dismantling federal regulatory and administrative authority by overturning the four-decade old, landmark precedent known as the "Chevron deference". It is, as Cornell Law School describes, "One of the most important principles in administrative law."

    Established in 1984's Chevron v. National Resources Defense Council, the ruling is a key underpinning of federal administrative law with broad applications to nearly every single aspect of American life. At its core, it holds that judges are not technical experts, so they should defer to federal agency expertise when determining Congressional intent on an ambiguous law or statute.

    According to legal analyst Ian Millhiser at Vox, Chevron "places strict limits on unelected federal judges’ ability to make policy decisions for the entire nation," establishing that it is "better for federal agencies, and not judges, to make these sorts of decisions". Millhiser concludes that overturning it would "shift policymaking authority from the executive branch to the judiciary," allowing unelected judges to effectively make policy and insert their own political or ideological preferences.

    In oral arguments at SCOTUS on Wednesday morning, four members of the rightwing supermajority on the packed and corrupted Court --- Justices Clarence Thomas, Sam Alito, Neil Gorsuch, and Brett Kavanaugh --- each signaled they were likely to overturn this landmark precedent.

  • Details from the contentious federal court hearing in New York on Wednesday in the second civil defamation trial brought by author and former columnist E. Jean Carroll against disgraced ex-President Donald Trump. The judge threatened to expel Trump from the courtroom after he repeatedly ignored warnings to remain quiet as Carroll testified that he shattered her reputation after she publicly accused him of sexual abuse. A previous state case in NY established that Trump did, in fact, sexually abuse Carroll at a department store in the 1990s. That jury awarded her $5 million for the defamatory comments he made about her after leaving office. He has continued his defamation since then. The jury in this federal case will only determine how much, if any, damages should be for the defamatory remarks he made about her while serving as President.
  • Finally, Nicole's speaks with author and communications expert ANAT SHENKER-OSORIO, founder of ASO Communications and host of the Words to Win By podcast. In an illuminating interview, Shenker-Osorio offers key insights and practical advice on winning political messaging, the ways in which the words that we use matter, and how to help ensure voters are engaged and informed that the critical 2024 election is now a choice between "freedom or fascism."

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: David Dayen of The American Prospect; Also: Biden forgives another $9B in student loans; Jordan, Scalise to run for Speaker; Republicans try to blame Dems for Repub removal of McCarthy...
By Brad Friedman on 10/4/2023 6:47pm PT  

The corrupt House GOP is in shambles but, for some reason, the corrupt Republicans at SCOTUS appear to have momentarily lost the plot, as all discussed on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

We begin where we left off yesterday, as the historic and stunning news had just broken that far-right Republican members succeeded in their scheme to unseat Kevin McCarthy as Speaker of the U.S. House. Moments later, he announced he would not run again for the position. Then, after Republicans adjourned the House until next Tuesday to try and regroup, they immediately began trying to blame Democrats for the Republican coup. They even kicked former Speaker Nancy Pelosi out of her Capitol office, despite her being in California yesterday for Sen. Dianne Feinstein's funeral.

Of course, despite GOP politicians and pundits hoping to blame Dems for their own failure, none of it was evidence of Democratic genius, but of a thoroughly broken Republican party. They may not yet have noticed --- or care to admit it to themselves --- but the party has been collapsing for years under the strain of its own corruption, lack of self awareness, dedication to an autocratic cult leader, and its own toxic mix of of victim-hood, grievance, entitlement, rage and revenge.

Today, far-right Republicans Jim Jordan of Ohio and Steve Scalise of Louisiana tossed their hat into the ring to become the next Speaker. Others may jump in before next week. It may take even more than the record 15 rounds of voting the Republicans needed just nine months ago in January to install McCarthy as their new, if short-lived Speaker.

While the GOP continues to fall apart, the White House continues to fight for Americans by battling back against the corrupted rightwing U.S. Supreme Court. On Wednesday, the Biden Administration announced another $9 billion of student loan debt relief, for a total of $127 billion in loan forgiveness to date for some 3.6 million borrowers. That, as the Administration reformulates a plan to forgive the debt of tens of millions of Americans after SCOTUS made up a reason out of whole cloth earlier this year to reject Biden's previous plan.

But SCOTUS, as their new term got under way on Monday, has already unleashed some surprises. On Monday, the most corrupt Justice on the Court, Clarence Thomas, actually did the right thing and recused himself from a case where he obviously should have. (Are you okay, Clarence?) And on Tuesday, the majority of the Court, including Thomas, Brett Kavanaugh and several other rightwingers, appeared to push back hard against the attempt by Payday Lenders to dismantle the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) entirely on wildly dubious grounds.

The effort to undo the CFPB was actually spearheaded by rightwing extremists on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, arguably the most "conservative" (and corrupt) appellate court in the nation. They used a narrow lawsuit by the lenders to declare the CFPB's entire funding mechanism to somehow be unconstitutional, even though, when the consumer bureau was stood up, as the brainchild of Elizabeth Warren during the Obama Administration (before she went on to become a U.S. Senator), its funding mechanism was similar to many other quasi-independent Executive Branch agencies since the founding of the republic.

Thomas noted during oral argument on Tuesday that he did not see "a Constitutional problem" with the funding mechanism. Kavanaugh observed that Congress could change it "tomorrow" if they had a problem with it. Justice Elana Kagan charged the claims of the case were "flying in the face of 250 years of history." Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, at one point, characterized the challenger's argument to say that "a provision of the Constitution is unconstitutional."

In short, it didn't go well for the lenders or Donald Trump's former Solicitor General who represented them at SCOTUS.

We're joined today to discuss what happened and what it all means --- including for other Executive Branch agencies that the right is similarly hoping to see dismantled, piece by piece, by the Judicial Branch --- by progressive financial journalist, author and Executive Editor of The American Prospect, DAVID DAYEN. He wrote a award-winning 2016 book about the same 2008 financial crisis that spurred the creation of the CFPB.

As Dayen explains today, the agency was created by Congress specifically to protect American consumers against scams by payday lenders, banks, credit card companies and other corporations. It receives its annual funding via the Federal Reserve, with a cap set by Congress. He argues that this case "threatens practically every consumer financial transaction that is made in the country."

After citing dozens of other federal agencies that are not funded via annual appropriates by Congress itself, Dayen asks, "If CFPB is unconstitutional, why wouldn't all these other things also be unconstitutional? In fact, there are plenty of other programs that are not funded by direct annual appropriations by Congress. I'll give you two big ones: Medicare and Social Security. They are mandatory spending. 60% of the federal budget is funded this way. Are they also unconstitutional because they are not exclusively funded by Congress?"

The 5th Circuit, he notes, "made this one ruling trying to help out payday lenders, but it really affects the functioning of daily life." The right has been gunning for the CFPB ever since its creation, and this case was supposed to be the one that finally killed it once and for all. But, Dayen suggests, with the caveat that anything could happen with this Court, after yesterday's argument at SCOTUS, he doesn't see the five votes that would be needed there to kill the CFPB...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Also: Is Biden playing 3-D chess with Repubs on the Debt Ceiling?...
By Brad Friedman on 5/25/2023 6:55pm PT  

The only good day in court this week for rightwing extremist yutzes was at the U.S. Supreme Court today, unfortunately. Other than that, as detailed on today's BradCast, it's not going well for them. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Among the many stories of note covered on today's program...

  • Last year, the corrupted, far-right, activist extremists on the U.S. Supreme Court tossed out precedent and ignored the text of federal law to gut the EPA's ability to regulate carbon pollution under the Clean Air Act. Today, those same corrupted yutzes gutted the EPA's ability to regulate pollution of our wetlands under the Clean Water Act. Once again legislating from the bench, Justice Sam Alito was even opposed on this matter by Justice Brett Kavanaugh who accused the majority of rewriting federal law and undermining the original intent of Congress.
  • 58-year old Oath Keepers founder, one-time BradCast guest, convicted seditionist and rightwing extremist yutz who shot his own eye out back in 1993, Stewart Rhodes was sentenced to 18 years in federal prison on Thursday for the terrorist attack he helped organize on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. It was the longest sentence to date for the Trump insurrectionists who failed in their attempt to overthrow the government in order to steal the 2020 Presidential election.
  • This week, Richard "Bigo" Barnett, the 63-year old rightwing extremist yutz who made himself infamous among the 1/6 insurrectionists by posing for photos with his feet up on a desk in the office of then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi (carrying a "stun device" and a 10-pound steel pole he brought with him from Arkansas), was sentenced to 4 and a half years in federal prison. Sad!
  • Former TV news anchor, Trump Mini-Me Wannabee election denier and rightwing extremist yutz Kari Lake lost yet again in Arizona court this week, in what was her last chance to prove that the 2022 election for Governor was somehow stolen from her by Republican officials in Maricopa County (Phoenix). She not only lost again, but lost hilariously and is now, along with her attorneys, facing potential sanctions for their "heinous and profoundly harmful" claims that the 2022 election was "rigged", according to County attorneys citing Lake's multiple false claims, both before and during the latest trial, about the election she lost to Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs by about 17,000 votes last year.
  • House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and his merry band of rightwing extremist yutzes in the U.S. House continue to hold the global economy hostage with their demands for massive cuts to popular social safety net programs in exchange for voting to raise the dumb debt ceiling. We've spent many shows in recent weeks discussing their dangerous threats, and the several ways that President Biden could fairly easily avoid a catastrophic, first-ever default by the U.S. Government without acceding to their threats.

    So why hasn't he taken advantage of those options, such as his ability to invoke the section of the 14th Amendment which declares "The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law...shall not be questioned"? What explains Biden's various inscrutable responses when asked by reporters of late about using the 14th? And why has the Administration been hedging in their response to a lawsuit from a union of government employees suing them to invoke the 14th?

    Well, MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell offered a sort of grand unification theory this week that could explain all of that. Matching up his theory --- which posits that Biden and his lead negotiator, Steve Richetti, are up to some serious Dark Brandon 3-D chess --- with the various public reporting available to those of us outside of the negotiating room, would actually explain some of the inexplicable comments from Biden and, frankly, his willingness to negotiate on the debt ceiling with Republicans at all after months of the Administration saying they refused to do so.

    O'Donnell concedes his theory is little more than a well-educated guess, based on his personal knowledge of Biden and Richetti from his time as a U.S. Senate staffer some years ago. But, if he is right, and if Biden can pull all of this off, it would avoid not one, but two upcoming fiscal cliffs at the same time, both the Debt Ceiling and the budget negotiations later this year which Republicans would otherwise almost certainly use to shut down the government as they have in years past in advance of next year's elections. O'Donnell's theory could even include ending the ability for rightwing Congressional yutzes to use the Debt Ceiling law as a hostage taking device ever again in the future.

    I realize that's a lot of "ifs", but, yes, all of that is actually a possibility based on all of the reporting on the matter so far, including late updates today from both Reuters and New York Times. It's all explained in detail on today's show.

  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with grim news on global heating and the rightwing extremist yutzes both causing it and refusing to do anything about it...

* * * SHOW NOTE: We're taking a very much-needed break over Memorial Day week from both the The BradCast and Green News Report. So it may be quieter than usual around here over the next week. Please forgive us, and we'll see ya shortly thereafter!...

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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: 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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FL blocks Univ. of Florida profs from serving as expert witnesses in lawsuits against the state; SCOTUS may be having second thoughts about TX' unconstitutional anti-abortion law; And more chilling stories of democracy dying before our eyes...
By Brad Friedman on 11/1/2021 6:23pm PT  

The through-line for today's BradCast comes courtesy of Meathead. Actor and director Rob Reiner was arguing, via Twitter over the weekend, that "until Donald Trump is prosecuted for leading a deadly Insurrection to overthrow the Government and Voting Rights are passed," we are witnessing the death of Democracy.

He was much more correct than he may have realized. But the stories we cover today --- only half of those we had hoped to get today, and none of which directly covered the two issues Reiner was referring to --- underscore that theme. If it's not immediately obvious, tune into today's show to find out how.

Among the stories covered, discussed, explained, warned about, expounded and ranted upon on today's program (along with listener calls throughout)...

  • Election Day is Tuesday in states across the country. As discussed last week, democracy itself is on the ballot in New York state. But most attention on Tuesday has been going to Virginia, where Trump-endorsed Gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin has now taken a lead in FiveThirtyEight's pre-election polling average over VA's former Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe. We explain why history is on Youngkin's side. Perhaps by Wednesday we'll find out if the voters in Virginia are as well, as democracy is not yet dead (hopefully) in some pockets of the nation.
  • In Florida, a simply remarkable and, yes, chilling story. The University of Florida has barred three professors --- each one an expert in democracy and voting rights (two of whom have appeared on The BradCast multiple times over the years) --- from testifying as expert witnesses for the plaintiffs in a challenge to the state's new voter suppression law passed earlier this year. The measure, signed on Fox "News" by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, surrounded by Trump supporters and with local media locked out entirely, restricts the use of drop-boxes for absentee ballots, while making it more difficult to obtain Vote-by-Mail ballots and harder to register to vote, among other democracy killing provisions. The university (whose Board of Trustees is headed up by a close DeSantis confidante and major GOP donor) claims that testifying against a state law would represent a conflict of interest for UF. That's an idea that is unheard of, frankly, and would prevent experts in their fields from being able to testify on their expertise in states in which they live and work. The same profs were never prevented from doing so in the past and experts on academic freedom describe this novel notion as unprecedented. A lawsuit seeking the review of documents from DeSantis on this matter, to determine his involvement in the University's decision, was filed on Friday.
  • At the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday, the new "unprecedented" anti-abortion law in Texas, barring the otherwise Constitutionally protected medical procedure after just six weeks of pregnancy, before many women even known they are pregnant, was heard on SCOTUS' rocket docket just two months after they'd allowed it to take effect in the Lone Star State. The matter in question is whether a case filed by abortion providers in the state and another by the U.S. Department of Justice should be allowed to proceed, despite the virtually unquestioned matter of the new state law, S.B. 8, violating Roe v. Wade. The reason the question even arises is because Texas purposely structured the law in a way that hopes to side-step any and all judicial review of the law. That is done by the statute empowering members of the public with a right to file a civil lawsuit against anyone who, in any way, aids a woman in receiving an abortion after six weeks. Under S.B. 8, plaintiffs may even sue an Uber driver who brought a woman to a clinic, for at least $10,000, and the State argues that because they are not enforcing the law, members of the public are doing so, the law cannot be challenged in either federal or state court.

    But even far-right Republican Justice Brett Kavanaugh (and, of course, Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan) was able to put two and two together during today's hearing to realize that if this type of law is allowed to go forward, states could adopt laws that effectively outlawed many other long-settled Constitutional rights, and avoid judicial oversight in the bargain. So, yes, California could adopt a law similar to S.B. 8 that makes owning a gun a civil violation for which anyone in the public could sue a gun owner for, say, a million dollars. Are the Justices on the High Court --- who allowed this law to take effect two months ago, ending almost all abortions for now in TX --- sure they want the nation to go down this path?

  • One of the other several stories we quickly covered of democracy dying today, referenced the newly gerrymandered maps for the four U.S. House seats in Iowa. Last week, after Republicans rejected a new map that would have split the state into two districts that voted for Biden last year and two that voted for Trump, they instead approved a second version of a map in which Trump won all four districts. One expert in redistricting describes the new maps as "a dream Republican map." Yes. That is yet another way in which democracy dies...unless we fight like hell to prevent it from doing so.

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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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Also: Sestak jumps in; SCOTUS says trademark law is 'FUCT'; Pence defends squalid conditions for detained children; Even NC knows hand-marked paper ballots are needed, so why doesn't L.A. County?; Callers ring in on the Dem 'horse race' before this week's two-night Dem debate...
By Brad Friedman on 6/24/2019 6:29pm PT  

We've largely stayed away from the "horse race" on the Democratic side of the 2020 Presidential race to date, preferring, as we're wont, to focus on more immediate issues, as well as the "track conditions" on which the horses are set to run next year. But on today's BradCast, we finally open the phones to turn to the horse race a bit, in advance of this week's first 2020 Presidential debates.

But first, a few news items of note. Among the stories covered today before we turn to the phones....

  • Were you thinking that 23 or 24 candidates for the Democratic Presidential nomination just wasn't enough? Were you hoping one more white male from a swing-state might enter the race? Well, retired three-star Navy Vice Admiral, former Pennsylvania Congressman and failed U.S. Senate candidate Joe Sestak may be the man for you!;
  • In U.S. Supreme Court news, the Justices released an opinion today finding that the decades-old federal statute preventing the issue of trademarks to brands determined to have "scandalous" or "immoral" names is, in fact, an unconstitutional violation of the Free Speech clause. That will be good news to lifestyle brand FUCT which had been denied a trademark registration for years. In her opinion for the majority, Justice Elana Kagan also may have offered a preview, according to Mark Joseph Stern, of, at least, her opinion on the Court's upcoming crucial ruling on partisan gerrymandering, as she noted that free speech cannot be denied on the basis of viewpoints or ideas conveyed. The challengers in the two partisan gerrymandering cases pending before the Court --- with a decision due any day now --- are arguing that state political opponents are seeing their voting power diluted by the party in power on the basis of their political viewpoints when it comes to the partisan gerrymandering of maps for the U.S. House and state legislatures;
  • In a follow-up to our Friday program's segment focused on horrific conditions for migrant children detainees on the border, Vice President Mike Pence was on CNN Sunday, working very hard to filibuster and otherwise avoid Jake Tapper's direct questions about the Administration's argument --- offered last week in federal appeals court --- that denying soap and toothbrushes to children forced to sleep on freezing concrete under a single foil blanket in overcrowded facilities somehow qualifies as "safe and sanitary" conditions for those children, as required by federal courts. Late today, some good news on that front, as nearly 300 children at a "squalid" Texas facility --- featuring lice, the flu, kids who hadn't showered in weeks, and detained children asked to take care of infants and toddlers --- have now been transferred out of at least that horrific facility...at least for now;
  • Then, with one failure after another after another in North Carolina's elections in recent months and years, even the former counsel for the North Carolina state Board of Elections is now calling for HAND-MARKED paper ballots for every voter. So why isn't the state of Georgia? Why isn't the city of Philadelphia in the key swing-state of PA? Why is the nation's largest voting jurisdiction, Los Angeles County, now moving from hand-marked paper ballots to 100% unverifiable touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) in advance of the 2020 Primaries? And why is Mitch McConnell in the U.S. Senate blocking any and all legislation that would increase election security by, among other things, mandating a hand-marked paper ballot for all voters? We discuss. Again;
  • Then, we open up the phone lines to callers, with the broad questions in advance of the first 2020 Democratic Presidential debate this week: What will our listeners be looking for in this Wednesday and Thursday's two-night face-off among 20 candidates? What is the most important factor they hope to find in a Democratic nominee? Who do they like so far and who do they not like? We offer the chance to advocate --- or bash --- any of the candidates callers may wish, along with the question: Would they vote for a nominee they may not like in the general election, rather than hand Donald Trump a nation- and planet-devastating second term? We got a lot of good callers and interesting thoughts from them along the way...

Please enjoy today's very lively show!...

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Guest: The Nation's John Nichols on all of that and the stolen SCOTUS' anti-union decision today and whether it's time for Dems to 'steal' it back...
By Brad Friedman on 6/27/2018 5:39pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Political earthquakes. Several of them. All shaking up the political world just within the past 12 to 24 hours. As if we needed still more chaos. [Audio link to show follows below.]

We do our best to navigate through as many of those temblors --- one or two of them quite encouraging, the rest, not so much --- as possible, with the help of our guest today, JOHN NICHOLS, longtime progressive champion and Washington Correspondent for The Nation.

Among the several earthquakes covered today: Antonia Ocasio-Cortez, a 28-year old Latina and political novice unseated Democratic Rep. Joe Crowley, the fourth most powerful Democrat in the U.S. House, by a huge margin (some 15 points) during Tuesday's midterm primaries in New York's 14th Congressional District. The defeat of a 10-term incumbent, previously thought to have been a potential future Speaker of the House, by a self-described Democratic socialist who raised and spent millions less than Crowley, has sent shockwaves through the Democratic establishment.

"When we vote, this is what happens," Ocasio-Cortez declared today after her stunning upset victory, following on the heels of her viral campaign video in which she declared the race "about people versus money. We've got people, they've got money." In the strongly Democratic district in Queens and The Bronx, she is almost certain to win this November.

In Maryland, meanwhile, another proudly progressive Bernie Sanders acolyte, former NAACP Chair Ben Jealous bested several other Dems to win the nomination to run on his bold populist agenda against popular GOP Gov. Larry Hogan this November.

Also on Tuesday night, a federal judge in San Diego --- a George W. Bush appointee --- issued a ruling requiring the Trump Administration to reunite families separated at the border within 30 days or less. (Within 14 days, if children younger than 5 are included.)

On Wednesday, however, things to several turns for the worst. First, the stolen 5 to 4 majority on the U.S. Supreme Court, in yet another far-right ruling overturning decades of established law, struck down so-called agency fees that public sector unions had been allowed to charge non-union members in exchange for representing them in collective bargaining negotiations. Though federal law still requires that non-union members receive the same pay and benefits as union members, the Court's final ruling issued before Summer recess means public sector unions are likely to lose millions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of members. The decision is seen as a huge blow to labor and a long-sought victory for Republicans. In her dissent to Justice Samuel Alito's majority opinion finding the 40-year old violated First Amendment free speech rights of non-union members, Justice Elena Kagan charged her GOP colleagues with "weaponizing the First Amendment" for political purposes. "At every stop," she charged in her opinion, read from the bench, "there are block-robed rulers overriding citizens' choices. The First Amendment was meant for better things."

But the day's largest earthquake, by far, came shortly thereafter, as 81-year old Justice Anthony Kennedy, a conservative Ronald Reagan appointee, who was often the swing-vote on issues such as abortion, gay rights and other progressive causes, announced he would be retiring at the end of July.

Nichols, author of The Horsemen of the Trumpocalypse, helps us navigate all of the above today, with analysis and insight on all of today's political earthquakes, as well as my argument that Senate Democrats must now follow the so-called "McConnell Rule" --- which Senate Republicans used to prevent a vote on Merrick Garland, President Obama's nominee to fill a vacant SCOTUS seat, for nearly a year in 2016 before it was ultimately filled by Trump's nominee Neil Gorsuch in 2017.

Not only must Dems insist on no voting on any Trump nominee to SCOTUS until after the November Election and the seating of the next Senate, just as McConnell and the Republicans did in 2016, but since Repubs unilaterally changed the Senate filibuster rule in order to force Gorsuch's confirmation through with a bare majority, Dems should consider walking out entirely --- for months, if necessary --- if the absence of a Senate quorum might prevent a vote on whoever Trump nominates to fill Kennedy's seat.

Yes, shut it all down, if necessary. As I argue today, the stakes are now that high. In order to prevent the further erosion of enumerable long-held American rights and values, Democrats now need to put it all on the line in advance of the 2018 midterm primary, which could flip the balance of the upper chamber to the Democrats. Nichols responds with his own thoughts in response to my assertion, and much more --- including on some of the otherwise very good news for progressives from Tuesday's primaries...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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