Some good (and not so good) legal news at year's end, and some hope for what next year's elections could bring in our final show of the year...
By Brad Friedman on 12/19/2023, 7:12pm PT  

Tonight's breaking news about the disgraced former President and insurrectionist being barred from the 2024 ballot in Colorado under the U.S. Constitution's "Insurrectionist Disqualification Clause" came just minutes before we were finishing up today's BradCast --- our last one of the year! But I suspect we'll have plenty to discuss when we return in 2024. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Among the stories we did have time to cover in full on today's program...

  • We open with a homerun public comment from a young man at a meeting of the Sarasota County, Florida School Board last week, calling for the resignation of Board Member and co-founder of Moms for Liberty, Bridget Ziegler. That, following the rape allegations against her husband, Christian Ziegler, Chair of the Florida Republican Party, by a woman who says she was involved in a threesome relationship with Christian and Bridget, a supposed "conservative" who rocketed to rightwing national fame as her Moms for Liberty group worked with FL Gov. Ron DeSantis to adopt the state's "Don't Say Gay Law" and to ban books from schools on LGBTQ-related issues. That, even as Bridget was allegedly involved in a sexual affair with another woman. But the guy's comment at the Sarasota School Board --- from which Bridget is still refusing to resign --- was killer.
  • Good news at the end of the year for voting rights out of --- of all places --- the very far-right 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in two different opinions issued on Friday, in fact. In one, the full court allowed a lower court ruling to stand mandating a new U.S. House map for Louisiana before 2024, after finding that the current map was an unlawful racial gerrymander by state Republicans under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. The other decision by the 5th Circuit allows a Texas voter suppression law --- which bans online voter registration, in a state with the lowest voter turnout in 2020 --- to stand. That's not good. But both decisions re-affirmed that voters and private organizations do have a legal right to sue to block racist voter suppression laws under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. Those affirmations come after the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled just last month, for the first time since the creation of the Voting Rights Act in 1965, that only the U.S. Attorney General can sue to enforce Section 2 of the VRA. If allowed to stand at SCOTUS, the 8th Circuit's ruling would be an extraordinary blow to the landmark Act. So the 5th Circuit's rejection of those arguments, filed in both cases by Republicans, is a very encouraging sign.
  • On Monday, Texas' authoritarian Governor Greg Abbott signed a new state law allowing state police to arrest --- and local judges to deport --- anyone suspected of being an undocumented immigrant. On Tuesday, civil rights groups sued to block the almost certainly unconstitutional new law. At least it used to be unconstitutional, back when SCOTUS overturned a similar "Papers, please!" law out of Arizona in 2012. But that was before there was a packed, stolen and corrupted 6 to 3 Republican majority on the High Court.
  • Very bad news for both Donald Trump and Mark Meadows out of the also very conservative 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday, as a three-judge panel rejected Meadows' attempt to remove his Georgia state criminal indictment related to 2020 election interference from state to federal court. As Law Professor Lee Kovarksy of the University of Texas explained last night, the ruling, written by the court's Chief Judge and very close Clarence Thomas ally, is very bad news for appeals of the "immunity" defenses filed by both Trump and Meadows in several different cases where they are attempting to use that legal gambit to skirt accountability.
  • We received a lot of email following yesterday's lively call-in show, in which I asked folks who'd voted for Joe Biden in 2020, but who were planning on not doing so again in 2024, to call in and tell me why. Today we share a few of those notes in response.
  • But, for something for nervous pro-democracy Americans to consider over the holidays until we return after the new year, we share a recent column from University of Illinois' Political Science Professor Nicholas Grossman, explaining why folks should not (yet) be freaked out about polls showing Trump defeating Biden next year, and why "pro-democracy Americans [should] approach the 2024 election with enthusiasm, not only dread."
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our final Green News Report of the year! She includes a boatload of details on why, though we may be done with 2023, 2023 ain't yet done with us yet! But she also has some encouraging news on how long-overdue actions to tackle our climate crisis by the Biden Administration are finally beginning to take root as we move into the new year...


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