We're happy to have the long-overdue return of great legal journalist MARK JOSEPH STERN of Slate on today's BradCast! As usual, we cover a whole bunch of important topics at lightning speed [Audio link to today's show is posted at end of article.]
But first, some quick news headlines on the record flooding of the Missouri River now wreaking havoc, evacuations and several deaths in parts of Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri. Damage has also affected a number of military bases, despite Donald Trump's recent plans to form a "Blue Ribbon Commission" of climate science deniers to rebut military assessments about the serious dangers of climate change posed to national security and military facilities.
Also, some interesting background info today on 2020 Democratic Presidential primary candidate Pete Buttigieg, Mayor of South Bend, Indiana as well as his position on climate change and the Green New Deal. And, some news today that recently-declared 2020 Presidential hopeful Beto O'Rourke raised a jaw-dropping $6.1 million in the first 24 hours after entering the race last week, exceeding Bernie Sanders' previous record haul of $5.9 million a few weeks earlier. Both candidates blew away all other current Democratic contenders so far with those numbers --- for what it's worth.
Then, we're joined by Stern to catch up on a boatload noteworthy legal issues moving through the federal and state court systems. Among them...
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, late last week, upheld lower court rulings ordering a State Senate district in Mississippi found to have been a racial gerrymander to be redrawn before the state's off-year 2019 elections. That, as the U.S. Supreme Court today heard a confusing oral argument regarding 11 racially gerrymandering districts in Virginia, where lower courts have already ordered new maps to be drawn in advance of 2019 state legislative elections likely to determine whether Democrats regain majorities in either or both chambers of the state legislature.
And all of that comes in advance of a SCOTUS hearing next week regarding partisan gerrymanders in several others states before the 2020 elections, when control of both Congress and many state legislatures will be up for grabs before the redistricting that will follow the 2020 Census to help determine balances of power in all 50 states and Congress for the next decade.
Stern describes all of this as the nation finding itself in the middle of an all-out "gerrymandering brawl...a kind of legal convulsion over how much our lawmakers can draw partisan district lines to swing elections in their favor." He cautions that racial gerrymanders --- long ago found to be unconstitutional --- may not be found as such anymore in the GOP's new, stolen Court. And that the question of partisan gerrymandering, which Justice Anthony Kennedy could have ended before retiring, is now a complete unknown. "The whole thing is upside-down, inside-out," he tells me, warning to "be afraid. Be very afraid" of Justice Clarence Thomas' varying and bizarre "back and forth" positions on these matters.
Stern offers slightly better news for us regarding the last-ditch appeal of a previously blocked law created by disgraced GOP "voter fraud" fraudster Kris Kobach, the former Sec. of State of Kansas and failed 2018 Republican Gubernatorial candidate. That law, repeatedly found by lower courts to be unconstitutional, had blocked tens of thousands of legal Kansas voters from being able to register to vote without presenting proof of citizenship first. All, as the trial court judge found in 2016, to prevent what amounted to 11 votes by non-citizens cast between 1999 and 2013 out of tens of millions of votes cast by the state's 1.76 million registered voters.
Meanwhile, in Connecticut late last week, the state's Supreme Court made what Stern describes as a "stunning" ruling in a suit brought by parents of children killed in the 2012 gun massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The case is filed against gun manufacturer Remington, makers of the Bushmaster AR-15 style weapon used to gun down 20 school kids and 6 adults. The court held, as Stern explains, that plaintiffs may move forward with their suit against the company, despite a unique federal law that otherwise grants completely immunity to gun manufacturers for the use of their deadly products. The suit is being brought under a state statute which, plaintiffs argue, allows them to sue Remington for irresponsibly dangerous advertising of the Bushmaster rifle. The state high court's ruling will now allow the case to continue and for plaintiffs' important discovery access to internal communications by the manufacturer, the gun industry and its advertising firms.
We also discuss a recent disturbing ruling from the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on an Ohio state GOP law that blocks all funding to Planned Parenthood. Stern describes the ruling as a foreboding omen for what he sees as the likely full dismantling of Roe v. Wade at SCOTUS, already under way, he charges, by "a thousand cuts" at the lower court level in several states where Trump appointees are quickly filling vacancies on federal benches.
And, finally, the most important issue of all today (obviously): "The evils of Standard Time", the awesomeness of Daylight Saving Time, and those who are completely wrong in hating it, as well as the many, as Stern recently reported, who do not seem to even have an understanding of what it is! (Versus Standard Time that actually ruins everybody's lives for months on end by keeping us all in dangerous and debilitating darkness all winter long!)...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)