Guest: Univ. of KY election law professor Joshua A. Douglas; Also: Bannon (mostly) ordered to prison; U.N. chief calls for a ban on fossil fuel ads, as planet reaches disturbing new climate warming milestone...
By Brad Friedman on 6/6/2024, 6:16pm PT  

"The Supreme Court of the United States is anti-democracy and antivoter --- and has been for far longer than you might think." That sounds like something we might charge at The BRAD BLOG or on The BradCast. But, today, that allegation comes from our guest, an esteemed law professor in his brand new book. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

FIRST UP, however... A couple of news items of note today. Convicted felon Donald Trump's 2016 campaign manager and Senior White House Advisor Steve Bannon (also a longtime "anti-democracy and antivoter" activist) may finally be heading to jail as of July 1. That according to a ruling today by the Trump-appointed federal judge overseeing Bannon's two 2022 convictions for Contempt of Congress following his refusal to answer subpoenas from the bipartisan House January 6 Committee. He still has a couple of potential options for delay --- including his hope for a lifeline from the corrupt U.S. Supreme Court. But, otherwise, he is likely to soon be locked up for the next four months in the run-up to this year's election. Sad!

Also today, the EU's climate monitor announced this week that, as of May, the past 12 months have each been the hottest ever recorded on Planet Earth. That announcement came on the same day this week that the U.N. Secretary-General, António Guterres, offered a blistering speech deriding the fossil fuel industry as "the Godfathers of climate chaos" who "rake in record profits and feast off trillions in taxpayer-funded subsidies" after having set the planet on "the highway to climate hell". He is, of course, correct. But Guterres also called, for the first time, for a ban on all ads by fossil fuel companies, akin to the one against tobacco companies, given the billions that Big Oil has spent on decades of deadly lies "distorting the truth, deceiving the public and sowing doubt" about the harm they've caused. He also called for "news media and tech companies to stop taking fossil fuel advertising." Think they will? We discuss.

NEXT... We're joined by Constitutional election law professor JOSHUA A. DOUGLAS of the University of Kentucky's College of Law to discuss his brand new book, The Court v. The Voters: The Troubling Story of How the Supreme Court Has Undermined Voting Rights. That title almost speaks for itself. But, as you might imagine, it gives us a lot to discuss today.

In his book, Douglas highlights nine different landmark SCOTUS rulings --- some you almost certainly know of, but others that you may not --- going back about 50 years, which he says have "contributed to the rise of anti-democracy forces animating our elections" today, leading the nation on the path toward the attempted rightwing insurrection on January 6, 2021.

"Legitimacy requires buy-in from everyone," when it comes to election law, Douglas tells me today. "So the fact that I make this statement about the Supreme Court, as someone who has tried to be very non-partisan in my work, says a lot about how stark it has become with respect to the way in which the Court has crafted or thought about the Constitutional right to vote."

"It has been death by a thousand cuts," he explains. "A slow march. There's no one case or one concerted effort." But the result of the Court's persistent rulings has been to undermine voting rights and, ultimately, the Constitutional order by giving more and more power to the states, after years of previously requiring strict scrutiny when it comes to restrictive voting laws. Each new ruling, he says, has fed off previous ones, granting more and more power back to states to restrict voting rights, eroding federal protections in both law and the Constitution.

In some cases, Douglas argues, such as 2021's Brnovich v. DNC, the Court (in this case, Justice Samuel Alito writing the opinion for the majority) has taken to simply making up new tests for state election laws "literally from thin air" to support their antivoter rulings.

Ever since the decade following the Civil Rights era, "it's been a slow march towards dismantling some of the protections of the Voting Rights Act, as well as undermining the constitutional importance of the right to vote within the U.S. Constitution. When you look at any one case, you don't necessarily see it. It's when we look at these combined, to note the way in which the Court has placed a thumb on the scale of the [state] legislatures at the expense of voters."

The book is written not for legal scholars, Douglas promises, but for actual voters. Rather than offering simply legal analyses, it is chock full of stories about the individual people involved in each of the cases he highlights. Evidence to support his argument here may be found in the title of Chapter 8, "An 'Embarrassing Judicial Fart'", on 2000's Bush v. Gore ruling.

While The Courts v. The Voters argues "we can no longer count on the Supreme Court to protect an equal right to vote for all" and that "voters are left with nowhere to turn to vindicate their rights," Douglas also offers a prescription for overcoming what he regards as an assault on our Democratic Republic in both the book and on today's program.

FINALLY... Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with more on what the European Union's chief climate monitor describes as the "shocking but not surprising" record heat over each of the last 12 months; the U.N. Secretary-General's well-supported screed against the deadly "Godfathers of climate chaos" in the fossil fuel industry; a record number of heat deaths in the U.S. last year; and the world's largest solar farm --- the size of New York City --- now finally China.


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