On today's BradCast: Yes, some actual, unqualified good and, frankly, surprisingly good news from our otherwise wildly corrupted U.S. Supreme Court on voting rights and racial gerrymandering! [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]
Last year, following oral argument at the High Court in Allen v. Milligan, a Voting Rights Act challenge in Alabama, pretty much all Court watchers and voting rights advocates thought that Section 2 of the VRA was in big, big trouble. That, after the Supremes had already gutted Section 5 of the Act in the Shelby County case back in 2013 and have been nibbling away at the rest of the landmark 1965 law ever since.
But on Thursday, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh actually joined with the Court's three liberals in a 5 to 4 majority opinion [PDF], upholding a lower court ruling by a three-judge panel --- including two Trump appointees --- which had determined that Alabama must rewrite its redistricted Congressional maps after the 2020 Census to include a second majority Black U.S. House District.
Early last year SCOTUS had used the "shadow docket" to temporarily put the lower court's ruling on hold without a hearing, allowing the 2022 elections to move forward with just one out of AL's seven U.S. House Districts having a Black majority, despite African-Americans comprising some 27% of the state's population. That ruling --- along with tea leaves read from oral argument last year and Roberts' history of working to dismantle the VRA --- led many to believe the Court would permanently allow the state's racial gerrymander to remain in place, effectively overturning the ban on election laws and House maps created with a racially discriminatory intent.
Alabama's GOP gerrymander had been challenged as a violation of both the Constitution and Section 2 of the VRA, after the Supremes' previous gutting of Section 5 of the Act removed the mandate for jurisdictions to demonstrate in advance that new election laws did not discriminate on the basis of race. Challenges under the Act may still be filed under Section 2, but only after the discriminatory voting measure has been enacted.
The Court's actions last year also allowed similar racial gerrymanders in several other states, including Louisiana, Georgia, Texas and elsewhere, resulting in the GOP winning a razor-thin 5-seat majority in the U.S. House in November.
Thursday's stunning decision, according to experts, could net Democrats as many as four or more seats in the House in the 2024 elections, and is likely to affect ongoing legal challenges in as many as 10 states.
Our guest on today's program believes that, "Gerrymandering and redistricting was one of the big reasons why Republicans probably had about a net gain of between 12 and 15 seats [last year] when you look at the various partisan gerrymanders and the various racial gerrymanders that the Court allowed."
We're joined today to discuss all of this, the details of how it happened, and what it appears to mean going by forward by a stunned DAVID DALEY of FairVote, where he is an expert on gerrymandering and author of two different books on the topic.
"I don't even know what to say," Daley explains at the top of our conversation. "I'm so used to delivering the bad news, and all of a sudden I'm a doctor telling you you're going to live forever. This is an unusual role for me."
But, don't worry. Daley is still able to share a number of concerns about several other cases with opinions coming soon from SCOTUS, despite today's unreservedly good news for voters, voting rights, and the future of the not-dead-yet Voting Rights Act!
THEN, with today's excellent news that may well result in Democrats regaining the majority arguably stolen from them by unlawful GOP gerrymanders last November, the current GOP majority in the House is busy eating itself alive. The party's far-right flank has mounted a mutiny on the House floor this week, in rebellion against Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy's debt ceiling deal last week with President Biden to avoid the first-ever default of the U.S. Government. And it's all quite hilarious.
FINALLY, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as the worsening affects of our climate crisis are now choking Americans across much of the east coast and midwest with toxic smoke from hundreds of record, out-of-control, Canadian wildfires blanketing much of the nation. We also cover the Biden EPA's long-overdue upgrades of Jackson, Mississippi's water system and the ecological disaster in the wake of the destruction of a critical dam in Russian-occupied Ukraine.
[NOTE: Today's program was completed just prior to the breaking news late today of Donald Trump's reportedly 7-count federal criminal indictment in Special Counsel Jack Smith's probe in the disgraced former President's stolen documents case. We'll pick up on that historically good news, no doubt, next week!]
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)