On today's BradCast: The GOP war on democracy and the judicial branch continue today, with a noteworthy lost battle in Wisconsin, an imbecilic turn of events in Maine, and a continuing hung jury in the U.S. Supreme Court. [Audio link to show follows below.]
First today, Austin's police chief finally describes the white evangelical American man who terrorized the city over the past month with a string of deadly package bombs as a "domestic terrorist". Yes, that actually qualifies as news these days.
Then, the nation's dumbest governor, Maine's Paul LePage (R), repeatedly berates a federal court judge as an "imbecile" for allowing a case brought by Maryland and Washington D.C. to move forward. The case charges that Donald Trump's continuing ownership of Trump International Hotel in D.C. is a violation of the U.S. Constitution's Emoluments Clause, barring gifts to the President from foreign or state governments. The "imbecile" judge in question that LePage decided to attack, found merely that plaintiffs have standing to proceed with their case.
In related GOPers-who-hate-the-rule-of-law news, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker finally decided to follow state law today, by scheduling special elections to fill two vacant state legislative seats in Republican districts, which he is terrified could flip to Democrats. After three different state judges each demanded he declare a date for elections by today, Walker and the Republicans in the state legislature appear to have given up their attempted scheme to call a special session of the legislature to change the law in order to undermine the orders of the courts. Their hope had been to leave those seats vacant --- and the voters in their districts unrepresented --- for more than a year. After deciding to do the right thing and follow state law, Walker remained outraged about it today.
Next up, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in another partisan gerrymandering case this week. Last October, speaking of Wisconsin, they heard arguments in Gill v. Whitford, a landmark case where a federal court tossed out all of the state legislative districts after finding them to be unlawfully gerrymandered by state Republicans in violation of the U.S. Constitution. This week, the SCOTUS Justices heard arguments in another redistricting case, Benisek v. Lamone, which focuses on a single U.S. House district in Maryland, held for years by Republicans, before Democrats gerrymandered it in their favor.
We're joined again today by FairVote's DAVID DALEY, who was as the Court for oral arguments in both cases. The author of RATF**KED: The True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America's Democracy, explains the differences and similarities in the two SCOTUS cases (along with other recent rulings by both state and federal courts finding Republicans used unlawful partisan gerrymanders in North Carolina, Pennsylvania and elsewhere, in order to assure legislative majorities even when receiving far fewer votes than Democrats.)
Daley also shares his assessment, based on this week's oral arguments, as to whether there will be five Justices willing to finally end the scourge of extreme partisan gerrymanders. If they don't (as a number of others suggest) Daley warns this problem may not be fixed for at least another generation, as the Court's swing-vote, 81-year old Justice Anthony Kennedy, is rumored to be contemplating retirement at the end of the term in June.
"They are searching for a standard to measure [partisan gerrymandering], that this Court can apply, but also that future Courts can apply," Daley tells me. "If the courts do not solve this now, it's not only the last opportunity for the next generation, but the gloves will be off in 2020 in a really aggressive way. No matter what they do, if it is not a finding against partisan gerrymandering, it will essentially take off any guardrails for legislators of either party when this process comes back around" after the next Census.
Then, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report with, as usual, mostly disturbing news --- but also some very good news for a group of natural gas pipeline protesters in Massachusetts, including the daughter of former Vice President Al Gore! (And, for those who may have missed it, here's Angie Coiro's BradCast interview with Gore last December, in which, among many other things worth listening to, he proudly discusses his daughter Karenna's arrest in the protest.)
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)