On today's BradCast: It's no longer only political pundits and activists calling for Democrats to pack the U.S. Supreme Court by adding several seats as soon as possible, in the wake of the Republican Party's blatant theft of the high court majority. Esteemed law professors are now joining that call. [Audio link to show follows below.]
But, first up today, a word or two on the President of the United States' appalling celebration of violence against journalists at a political rally in Montana on Thursday night. To the cheers of his supporters, Donald Trump praised the criminal assault on Guardian journalist Ben Jacobs by Republican U.S. House member Greg Gianforte. The attack last year was carried out by Gianforte, and caught on tape, on the eve of his special election to the state's only U.S. House seat.
"Any guy that can do a body slam --- he's my kind of guy," Trump declared to laughter and wild applause from supporters at the campaign rally for Gianforte in Missoula on Thursday, lauding him as "one tough cookie." The Congressman initially lied to police after the assault, claiming that he was attacked by Jacobs. Later, after he won the election, and after a Fox News crew who witnessed the attack detailed what actually happened, Gianforte pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault, apologized to Jacobs and paid a small fine in addition to performing 40 hours of community service and receiving 20 hours of anger management counseling.
Trump's disgusting --- and chilling --- praise for the violent attack against a reporter doing his job, comes amidst Trump's seeming support for Saudi Arabia following their reported assassination and dismemberment of Washington Post columnist and Virginia resident Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul two weeks ago. Journalists today --- including the Guardian's Editor and the head of the White House Correspondents Association --- are decrying Trump's support for violence against reporters, despite his sworn oath to protect and defend the Constitution's First Amendment. We decry it --- and the dark path where it's leading --- on today's show as well.
Next, we're joined by MICHAEL KLARMAN, the Kirkland & Ellis Professor at Harvard Law School to discuss his recent essay at the Take Care Blog, detailing "Why Democrats Should Pack the Supreme Court" if they are ever able to regain control of the White House and both chambers of Congress. The public conversation in support of expanding the number of seats on the high court --- which can be done statutorily, without a Constitutional Amendment --- has been intensifying in recent weeks. What had begun as a call from activists to restore a Democratic majority, stolen from them by Republicans in 2016, has quickly spread to academic and legal circles.
Klarman, the author of many books on American law and history and a former clerk to Ruth Bader Ginsberg, argues that, in addition to the GOP's historically unprecedented theft of the high court and his belief that Trump was likely elected only due to unlawful foreign interference, a host of radical actions by Republicans in recent years at both the state and federal level, leaves Democrats with only the choice to respond in kind. If not, he argues, it will be nothing less than "unilateral disarmament" and an act of "political suicide" for the party.
"It's not radical. It's responding to an extraordinary rightward shift in the Republican Party that is tearing apart the rules of democracy," he argues. "The Republicans have already packed the Court," so "unpacking" it, he says, would be warranted.
"There's a kind of sickness that's been spreading in the Republican Party for the last decade or two. It's certainly not true of all Republican voters, many of whom I think would be unaware of these things, and would have a problem with them if they knew about it," he tells me. "But the Democratic Party can't go on playing by the established norms and traditions of democracy when the Republican Party is willing to do anything to win. That's unilateral disarmament. It usually doesn't work out well for the party that disarms. So this is a fairly mild way to fight back."
"My argument is not that Democrats should control the Supreme Court at any cost --- I think that's the Republicans' position, [that] 'we get to control the Supreme Court even if it means stealing an appointment.' My position is their theft has to be offset, and put us back in the position that we ought to have been at if the seat hadn't been stolen."
He leaves the case of whether Dems should run on a promise to expand the Court, or wait until they gain back control before announcing such a plan, to political scientists, but he notes: "We're going to have to think creatively in order to rescue democracy. And that may mean occasionally fighting back in ways that Democrats don't gravitate toward naturally, and that they would prefer not to have to use at all in a normal political environment. But you can't just respond by disarming in the face of this incredible threat that the Republican Party is posing to the basic norms and institutions of democracy."
Finally today, more news on the ongoing allegations of attempted voter suppression, particularly in southern states once covered by the Voting Rights Act until the central part of the Act was gutted by SCOTUS Republicans in 2013. That, on the same day that Trump's former longtime lawyer and business partner Michael Cohen broke his media silence to plead with the American public to vote this November or face "another two or another six years of this craziness." And then we enjoy another musical close to today's show, this time from actress Jenifer Lewis, of ABC's Blackish, who explains, in song, why it's time to "Get your ass out and vote!"...
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