Last week, Trump's new "sham" nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court appeared to not know if voter intimidation was even a violation of federal law. This week, as we report on today's BradCast, Trump and his henchmen find themselves facing a federal lawsuit over exactly that. [Audio link to show follows below.]
Among the many stories covered on today's show...
- First up, Joe Biden has finally stated his position on expanding the U.S. Supreme Court. That position? A bi-partisan commission to study reforms for the federal court system, to offer recommendations after six months...if Biden wins the White House and Dems take the Senate. We discuss what is probably a pretty smart political position for the former VP to take right now, considering that corporate media can't stop using the words "court packing" to describe long-overdue reforms after years of actual court packing by the GOP.
- Speaking of which, the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, led by South Carolina's increasingly vulnerable Sen. Lindsey Graham, broke their own rules today to ram through the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett without a single Democrat present, after Dems refused to allow a quorum for today's vote. If she is confirmed by the full Senate on Monday, as Republicans currently plan, it will be one of the shortest confirmation processes and the closest to a Presidential Election Day for the seating of a Supreme Court Justice in the nation's history. That, after just 4 years ago Republicans blocked a Democratic SCOTUS nominee entirely for a full year, while vowing that a new Justice should never be seated during a Presidential election year. Republicans also changed the rules in the middle of that game as well, when they killed the filibuster for SCOTUS nominees after failing to get enough votes to pack Neil Gorsuch, Trump's first nominee, onto the Court. Over the past five years, Republicans have succeeded at completely delegitimizing the U.S. Supreme Court.
- The GOP's already-stolen Supreme Court on Wednesday sided with Alabama's dishonest, lying, somewhat deranged, unlawfully Twitter-blocking, Republican Sec. of State John Merrill to nix curbside voting in counties that wished to use it to help keep disabled voters safe during the COVID crisis, as recommended by the CDC and approved the U.S. Dept. of Justice as a way to prevent violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). All three remaining Democratic appointees on the Court dissented, siding with the U.S. District Court and federal appeals court which, after a three day trial, found the now-scrapped accommodation to be a "modest" and "reasonable" way to avoid a potentially fatal illness for some voters.
- In recent days, Democratic voters in Florida and several other battleground states have been receiving threatening warnings via email, instructing them to "Vote for Trump or else!" The body of the emails, which appear to come from a Trump-supporting extremist group, cite the recipient's name and addresses and promise to "come after you" if they do not change their party affiliation to Republican and vote as instructed. Incredibly, and with zero supporting evidence, Trump's "partisan hack" Director of National Intelligence John Ratclifffe hastily convened an absurd press conference on Wednesday night to declare that Iran was actually behind the threatening emails to Democrats. He claimed they were designed to "damage President Trump". He also muttered something about Russia. But, again, no actual specifics and no actual supporting evidence for his claim that both countries accessed voter registrations systems to obtain the data (most of which is publicly available without actually hacking into election-related systems). Suffice to say, I believe absolutely nothing from this Administration at this point, about any of it, and, short of independently verifiable information, neither should you.
- Then, we are joined by the Legal Director at Free Speech for People, RON FEIN, to explain the federal lawsuit his non-partisan good government organization filed on Wednesday on behalf of the Latino civic engagement group Mi Familia Vota Education Fund and several voters, charging that Donald Trump, Attorney General Bill Barr and Acting Sec. of Homeland Security Chad Wolf are violating federal laws against voter intimidation.
The complaint [PDF] and accompanying request for a preliminary injunction, as Fein details, alleges defendants have exhibited a pattern of intimidation against voters that violates the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871, and the First, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
As FSFP explains in their announcement of the suit, the complaint is "based on the defendants’ violent suppression of public protests opposing police brutality, the encouragement of white supremacist 'vigilantes,' threats to send 'sheriffs' and other law enforcement to the polls, the undermining of mail-in voting, and the rejection of the peaceful transfer of power, which, the complaint alleges, constitute illegal voter intimidation."
Fein offers more details on what he describes as a "threatening pattern of conduct stretching over the past few months," that has resulted in the suit. "People understand what it means when the President talks about sending law enforcement...When he tells the Proud Boys to 'stand by,' people understand what that means...This is not one piece of conduct, one isolated statement. This is a months-long pattern that the President and his top officials have been involved in, that has the purpose and effect --- hopefully not successfully --- but it certainly has that effect, of intimidating people from voting either in person or by mail."
Explaining the relief sought by the complaint, he tells me: "First of all, we want relief prohibiting the defendants from deploying armed federal agents at or near polling places; from ordering federal agents to block the delivery of ballots or interfere in the counting of ballots; from taking any actions that could limit with the speed or reliability of mail delivery. And specifically to Trump, prohibiting him from encouraging his supporters to bring weapons to polling places, block access to polling places, to question voters, or from using official government public communications channels --- which now includes his Twitter account --- to suggest that lawful votes will be scrutinized or challenged."
He also discusses a somewhat related federal case also filed this week by FSFP on behalf of the Minnesota chapters of the Council on American-Islamic Relations and League of Women Voters against a private mercenary contractor who has posted job listings, reported recently by the Washington Post, seeking to hire and deploy armed former special ops troops to patrol polling sites in the state.
- Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with news on yet another record hurricane in an already-record season; the death of half of Australia's Great Barrier Reef and the return of the Hummer, this time as an all-electric "supertruck"...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)