On today's BradCast, the world and the U.S. Congress respond to Trump's bombing of Syria earlier this morning, even as Republicans in the Senate complete their unprecedented theft of the U.S. Supreme Court. In a related matter, an appellate court issues a landmark expansion of the Civil Rights Act. [Audio link to show is posted below.]
While many in the corporate media are joining a number of world leaders and members of Congress in celebrating Donald Trump's cruise missile attack on a Syrian air base days after an horrific chemical attack in the country, Russia is citing the action as a "significant blow" to U.S.-Russia relations and an act of "aggression" in violation of international law. Moreover, a number of Congress members, both Republican and Democratic from both chambers, are similarly citing Trump's attack as "an act of war" that is unlawful under the U.S. Constitution, as well as ill-considered and dangerous on several levels. Congress itself has now scuttled away for a two-week holiday recess, after refusing to even debate U.S. action in Syria more than 4 years, in the wake of some 400,000 deaths in the war-torn country.
At the same time, before heading home for the holidays, as the nation, the media and world were otherwise distracted today, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans finalized their historic judicial coup by confirming "Justice" Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court with a simple majority after unilaterally changing Senate rules to kill the right to filibuster SCOTUS nominees in the wake of their year-long refusal to hold a hearing or a vote for Barack Obama's nominee Judge Merrick Garland.
Then, following a landmark 8 to 3 bi-partisan Civil Rights Act ruling this week by the full 7th Circuit Court of Appeals (where most of the judges were appointed by Republicans and are considered quite conservative), Mark Joseph Stern, legal reporter for Slate, joins us to explain why he sees the decision as a precedent-setting "thunderbolt" for civil rights and the LGBTQ community.
The case involves a community college which was found sued for having discriminated against a woman in its employment practices on the basis that she was gay. The ruling, as Stern details, is the first time an appellate court has extended the Civil Rights Act to include protections against workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in addition to simply race and gender.
"What the 7th Circuit majority said was, look, it is logically incoherent to remove sexual orientation discrimination from the concept of sex discrimination. When an employer discriminates against a woman for dating another woman, he is discriminating against her explicitly on the basis of her sex. If she were a man dating a woman, then she would not face discrimination. If she were a woman dating a man, then she would not face discrimination. It is only because she is a woman and she is associating intimately with other women that she faces this kind of discrimination," Stern explains.
The case is likely to have broad national implications and will be "impossible to ignore" at the Supreme Court, says Stern. It's also important thanks to Reagan-appointed conservative Judge Richard Posner's opinion in which he argues that courts, as Stern short-hands it, "should interpret statutes in a manner that 'infuses' them 'with vitality and significance today' rather than relying on their original meaning. Posner contrasted this theory with the conservative 'originalism' championed by Justice Antonin Scalia." That is no small matter as it's being sung out by Posner, the Supreme Court's most cited federal jurist of the 20th century. (And, incredibly enough, even the far-right activist Judge Frank Easterbrook joined the majority in this case!)
Stern also discusses what we should expect when and if the case is heard by what he also considers to be a "stolen" Supreme Court in the wake of the GOP's illegitimate confirmation today of Gorsuch.
Finally, Desi Doyen joins us with the latest Green News Report with an unconscionable corporate media failure, and as the GOP-controlled U.S. House Science Committee shamefully uses McCarthy-esque tactics to put science itself on trial...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)