On today's BradCast: The U.S. Supreme Court seat stolen by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his Senate Republicans --- who carried out the unprecedented blockade of President Obama's SCOTUS nominee Merrick Garland for almost a year following the death of Antonin Scalia --- paid off in spades today in two separate 5 to 4 decisions which should forever have an asterisk next to them in the history books. [Audio link to today's show is posted below.]
First up today, however, primary elections are being held in seven states on Tuesday in New York, Maryland, Utah, Colorado and Oklahoma, with primary runoffs in Mississippi and South Carolina. We'll have noteworthy results and problem reports on tomorrow's BradCast, though we already know of one huge problem in Baltimore. (No, it's not a mere "glitch" or "snafu", Baltimore Sun. It is a failure...at the very least!) On Monday night, it was revealed that Maryland failed to include updated voter registration information for some 80,0000 voters who made changes to their party affiliation or residential addresses since April of 2017. The announcement was made by the state late on the evening before Tuesday's elections, in which those voters were forced to vote on provisional ballots at the polls. Those ballots will be included in the results, but won't be tallied until next week.
Then, we're joined again today by Slate's great legal reporter MARK JOSEPH STERN to discuss both of the U.S. Supreme Court's grim rulings today on Trump's Muslim travel ban and on so-called "crisis pregnancy centers", as well as several decisions from Monday --- all of which, Stern correctly points out, would almost certainly have seen the opposite outcome under Garland instead of Justice Neil Gorsuch who has been the "decisive 5th vote" in each of the cases. "Every single one of the decision that we're talking about right now would have come out differently if Justice Merrick Garland were sitting on the Supreme Court right now instead of Justice Neil Gorsuch. We would have an end to partisan gerrymandering, an end to racial gerrymandering, an end to voter suppression, an end to crisis pregnancy centers' efforts to be lawless and not have to comply with basic medical licensing. The travel ban would be struck down. It's almost brutal to think about how all of these cases would turn out if the man who should be on the Court were on the Court."
Stern details Chief Justice John Roberts' 5 to 4 majority opinion in the travel ban case, in which the Court overturned multiple lower courts to uphold Trump's third attempt at banning immigrants and travelers from several majority Muslim countries. As dissenter Justice Sonia Sotomayor also does, Stern compares the ruling to the notoriously shameful 1944 Supreme Court decision in Korematsu v. U.S., which allowed Japanese-Americans to be forced into internment camps during WWII. Today's ruling is being described as "shameful", “hateful" and "racist" by immigration advocates and religious groups alike. Stern calls the decision --- in which Roberts largely dismisses Trump's oft-repeated statements revealing his personal animus towards Muslims --- as "Korematsu 2.0"
"This Court is not as disturbed and disgusted by Trump's approach to immigration as I think a majority of Americans are," he tells me. "This is a Court that's eager to bless the President's moves in the realm of national security, and to basically believe his pretext, even when it's flagrantly B.S"
Sotomayor argues in her dissent: "By blindly accepting the Government's misguided invitation to sanction a discriminatory policy motivated by animosity toward a disfavored group, all in the name of a superficial claim of national security, the Court redeploys the same dangerous logic underlying Korematsu and merely replaces one gravely wrong decision with another."
Stern also details Justice Clarence Thomas' 5 to 4 majority opinion which, under a pretext of First Amendment free speech rights, strikes down California's restrictions on anti-abortionist scam artists posing as phony medical clinics to hoax pregnant women into not receiving abortions. Thomas, charges Stern, "wrote an astonishingly broad decision that effectively says the government has no power to regulate professional speech, no power to regulate medical speech, or doctors' speech, except when they are telling abortion patients not to get abortions." In all, he says, describing how the Court is also targeting voting rights by reversing multiple lower courts in recent rulings, they are "on a kind of tear right now, overturning court after court" and/or using any "flimsy reason to send a case back down" for rehearing.
Yes, elections matter, if you haven't noticed. In the case of the 2016 election, the result will now haunt the U.S. for generations.
Finally today, we're joined by Desi Doyen with the latest Green News Report on the climate changed-fueled flooding in Iowa that resulted in an oil train derailment and hundreds of thousands of gallons of dirty tar sands crude spilled into the drinking water supplies, and other such cheerful news to close out today's program...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)