Guest: Slate legal journalist Mark Joseph Stern; Also: Biden soaring in polls, young voters hopeful again about the future...
By Brad Friedman on 4/23/2021, 6:27pm PT  

Today on The BradCast, a very ominous sign from the U.S. Supreme Court. Very. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

On Thursday, the Court issued a 6 to 3 opinion in Jones v. Mississippi, which shatters years of established Court precedent that had prevented minors from being charged with life in prison without the possibility of parole in all but the most extraordinary circumstances, and where a judge has specifically made a rare finding that the juvenile's "crimes reflect permanent incorrigibility."

But the ruling by the Court this week --- in a case where a boy, Brett Jones, who had turned 15 days earlier, grew up as "the victim of violence and neglect that he was too young to escape," before snapping and killing one of his abusers just after he had abruptly lost access to the medication he took for mental health issues --- is appalling for a host of reasons.

Not only because, at 31 years old, Jones has since become a reformed, model prisoner in every regard (even the widow of his victim has urged the court for his release); Not only for the 6 to 3 majority decision by all 6 Republicans appointed to the stolen and packed Court; Not only for the opinion itself which will consign more than 1,500 others who committed crimes as children to dying in prison; Not only for the fact that this particular opinion was written for the majority by Justice Brett "What I did when I was young doesn't matter" Kavanaugh (of all people!); Not only for the fact that the decision overturns long-standing, painstaking Court precedents developed over several cases throughout the years; Not only for the fact that the majority simply pretend they did not overturn established legal precedent at all; And not only for the fact that Justice Sotomayor was forced to call the majority out for all of that in the starkest, most savage terms on behalf of the minority (charging the majority "is fooling no one" and "distorts [the precedential cases] beyond recognition", even as she specifically quotes Kavanaugh's very own prior statements on the importance of respecting established legal precedent); But, most troublingly, also for what it may portend in the weeks ahead, much less the years ahead, unless Democrats can quickly, at this point, figure out that they better come to their senses and figure out how to reform the U.S. Supreme Court before we see a boatload of similarly long-held precedents in even more disturbing cases, being completely trashed and overturned by this newly emboldened rightwing Court.

We're joined today by the great MARK JOSEPH STERN, our go-to Supreme Court correspondent from Slate, to discuss not only the Jones v. MS case itself, but what we should glean --- and none of it is good --- from how it has just played out before our eyes, now that the stolen majority on the Court has a full three Donald Trump appointees packed onto it.

As the newly emboldened rightwing activist Justices on the U.S. Supreme Court this week merely pretended precedent didn't exist, by essentially adopting dissenting views from the several cases that created the precedents, a newly emboldened rightwing state Supreme Court majority in Florida did something very similar. Stern also reports on that case, concerning a people's ballot initiative on recreational marijuana in the Sunshine State, which also underscores the long GOP Big Lies that they oppose judicial activism or Big Government tyranny.

With those outrages --- and what they portend for an era of rightwing judicial activism this week --- we also discuss the new proposal by Democrats in the House and Senate to expand SCOTUS from 9 Justices to 13, and the "kick-the-can-down-the-road" bipartisan Presidential Commission empaneled by Joe Biden to "study" the idea of reform for both SCOTUS and the federal judiciary as a whole.

Stern closes with a heads up --- a stark warning, in truth --- as to the big decisions still to come from the Court before the session ends in June, on the Affordable Care Act ("ObamaCare"); foster care by same-sex couples; and a clearly unconstitutional new abortion law (also out of Mississippi) in light of Thursday's appalling decision in Jones v. MS, which Stern categorizes as both "barbaric" and "one of the most dishonest and cynical decisions in recent memory."

Finally, in hopes of leaving you with some slightly brighter news after such a foreboding, grim report from SCOTUS and Stern, we've got some encouraging new polling numbers for Joe Biden. But, much more importantly, from young people who, for the first time in many years, and in rather substantial (even record) numbers across all races, are beginning to feel hopeful about the future again, as they see government as an ally on issues of poverty, combating climate change and on health care.

Hopefully none of them tune in for the earlier part of today's program...

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