It's a good day on The BradCast. Let's enjoy it while it lasts. [Audio link to full program follows below this summary.]
After a full year of five-alarm warnings on this program about the the Moore v. Harper case at the U.S. Supreme Court, and the havoc its so-called Independent State Legislature theory would wreak on American elections and hundreds of years of American election law if approved by a Court majority, I'm very happy to say, the grave threat is over. For now.
By a 6 to 3 majority, with Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Kavanaugh and Barrett joining all three liberals on the Court, the fringe ISL theory was soundly rejected (PDF). That theory, pushed by Rightwingers --- especially by Trumpers after the 2020 election --- holds that the U.S. Constitution's Elections Clause, allowing State Legislatures to determine "times, places and manner" of federal elections in their state, also give those Legislatures plenary power to make all laws pertaining to federal elections without the possibility of any sort of judicial review.
Had the Supreme Court majority gone the other way in this case, as many feared, State Legislatures would have had the only power to make such laws and rules. No Gubernatorial veto or state Supreme Court or state constitution --- or even state ballot initiative adopted by voters --- could have blocked them. They could have instituted partisan gerrymanders, even if their state's constitution barred them. They could have chosen which Presidential electors to send to the Electoral College, even if state voters had selected a different candidate. (It is under the ISL theory that Trump and his legal stooges like Rudy Giuliani and John Eastman tried to convince State Legislatures in Georgia, Arizona, Wisconsin, etc., that they had the power to choose Trump electors, even though voters in all of those states had voted for Biden.)
Voting rights advocates are breathing a huge sigh of relief today. Had the Court gone the other way, as many feared, more than 170 state constitutional provisions, over 650 state laws delegating authority to make election policies to state and local officials, and thousands of regulations down to the location of polling places could have been affected or simply overturned, according to Brennan Center for Justice.
Tuesday's news follows several other, surprisingly not insane rulings by the Court in recent weeks, where enough rightwingers peeled off to join the Court's Liberals to avoid worst case scenarios. As Slate's Mark Joseph Stern concludes in his article today on the Moore v. Harper decision, headlined "John Roberts Has Wrested Back Control of the Supreme Court": "So far this term, [Roberts] is once again in the driver’s seat—and the court is acting a lot more like a court than this time last year. It’s too early for grand conclusions. But it sure looks like a majority of the justices want us to know that they are backing away from the brink."
There are a few more major rulings to come --- on Affirmative Action in college admissions; on Biden's student loan forgiveness program; and on another dumb anti-LGBTQ "religious rights" case --- before this year's term wraps up at week's end. Decisions are likely to come on Thursday. But, even adverse rulings on those issues, as expected, are unlikely to have the democracy-rattling effect of what the case over the ISL theory would have wreaked, or had the Supremes gutted what is left of the Voting Rights Act (which was also feared but, also surprisingly, the Court did the right thing instead by following both precedent at the Constitution.) Perhaps a few members of SCOTUS' far-rightwing have learned a thing or two since their disastrous Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade this time last year.
On the other hand, having not learned a think since this time last year is our twice-criminally indicted former President. On Monday night, CNN released the actual audio recording of a meeting cited in Special Counsel Jack Smith's 37-count felony indictment [PDF] against Trump on charges related to violations of the Espionage Act and obstruction of justice. It's a tape of the July 2021 meeting at his Bedminster, New Jersey resort, as described on pages 15 & 16 of the indictment, wherein Trump claims to be showing classified documents on military plans for an attack on Iran to a group of people writing a book.
Trump is heard in the audio telling his cackling audience that the documents he is showing them are "highly confidential," "done by the military [and] given to me," and that he no longer had the power to declassify them, now that he was out of office.
His recent explanation about the incident to Bret Baier of Fox "News", when asked about the description in the indictment prior to the release of the actual tape on Monday night, appears to be in pretty stark contradiction with what is heard on the audio tape. We play both recordings in full today so you can decide.
We're joined again today by former Republican attorney and U.S. Army Captain turned Daily Kos blogger KEITH BARBER to discuss the Trump tape; how it compares to its description in the Mar-a-Lago indictment; who might have leaked it and why; what the same behavior would have earned him as a member of the military; and what it is likely to mean for Trump's stolen documents case as it plays out in Florida under a wildly inexperienced and arguably corrupt Trump-appointed federal judge.
Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest 'Green News Report' with rough news on the climate changed-fueled extreme weather pounding much of the nation this week (especially Texas), but with some far better news for EV charging standards and the solar industry as it overtakes fossil fuels...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)