On today's BradCast, we start where we left off on yesterday's show, regarding Thursday's amazingly corrupt and disturbing ruling in favor of Scott Walker and his cronies --- by the amazingly corrupt Wisconsin Supreme Court --- and how, if Republicans have their way, that ruling may soon enough become the law of the land for the entire nation.
As our producer Desi Doyen noted on today's show: "This is your early warning system." Ignore at your peril. Then it was on to a couple of quick items and updates, including dumb Confederate flag wavers in Oklahoma and Maine's even dumber Governor Paul LePage.
From there, we head to North Carolina, where "the most extreme anti-voter bill passed by any state since the Jim Crow Era", as we initially described it when it was passed by state Republicans back in 2013, is finally now facing trial against the NAACP, the ACLU, the DoJ and other democracy and voting rights advocates.
We are joined by The Nation's author/journalist Ari Berman, who was in the federal courtroom in Winston-Salem, NC this week as the trial finally got under way. The results of this trial are likely to head all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, one way or another, and may well determine the future of voting rights in this country. The new voting restrictions were passed in 2013, just days after the U.S. Supreme Court demolished the provision of the Voting Rights Act that otherwise, says Berman, would have kept this law --- which is "already disenfranchising voters" --- from even taking effect.
"That's such a clear case study to me that the Supreme Court was wrong when it said that the special protections of the Voting Rights act weren't needed." Berman goes on to explain why he believes NC, a state which had made astounding progress in voting rights over the previous decade, has now become the new Selma, Alabama, where the bloody fight for voting rights led directly to passage of the federal Voting Rights Act in 1965.
"In North Carolina, they had seemingly everything," Berman tells me. "They had all these voting reforms --- early voting, same day registration, pre-registration for 16 &17 year olds. And it was all taken away or reduced" when the GOP took over both the state legislature and Governor's mansion for the first time since Reconstruction in 2013.
"What Selma in the 1960s and what North Carolina in the 2013-2015 era shows is how far these conservative white Southerners will go to protect political power. There aren't billy clubs. There aren't literacy tests. But they're saying this is how black turnout increased --- North Carolina went from 48th in voter turnout in the late 80s, to 11th in voter turnout in 2012 --- Republicans there basically said we're gonna tamp this turnout down."
And now it's left to the courts to find out if those rights, once granted, can be taken away by political whim --- and if NC, and other states with a history of racial discrimination in elections, will be forced once again to face preclearance from the federal government before they can enforce any new voting restrictions.
Berman has a lot of insight on all of this. His new book, Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America, will be published next month to coincide with the 50th Anniversary of passage of the VRA. As I note during the show, the book is an exhaustively researched and heart-wrenching documentation of the uniquely American and harrowing tale of the fight to vote in this country --- and the outrageously long and continuing effort to block it. That fight continues, sadly, to this day. Go buy his book!
Finally, Desi joins us again for some listener email and then a stunningly upbeat Green News Report for a change!...
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(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)