Background Briefing: June 27, 2018
The Retirement of Justice Kennedy and What it Means
We begin with the announcement today by Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy that he is retiring, giving President Trump another opportunity to nominate a far-right replacement like Neil Gorsuch, increasing the court’s conservative majority to a 6 to 3 margin from the current 5 to 4 split. A former law clerk to Justice Kennedy on the U.S. Supreme Court, Nancy Combs, Professor of Law and Director of the Human Security Law Center at William and Mary Law School joins us to discuss how, without Kennedy there will not be a swing vote since the reliably conservative Kennedy voted with the liberal minority in support of abortion rights, same sex marriage and affirmative action. And with Senate Minority Leader Schumer commenting that Kennedy’s departure creates “the most important Supreme Court vacancy for this country in at least a generation”, we assess what the Democrats can do to stop Trump from choosing from his list of conservative ideologues now that Majority Leader McConnell has ignored Schumer’s call for the Republican Senate to adhere to the rule they came up with in denying Merrick Garland a hearing, that Supreme Court nominees should not get a confirmation vote in election years.
The Republican Money and Power Behind the Janus Case Aimed at Drying Up Democratic Party Coffers
Then we examine the genesis of today’s Janus versus AFSCME ruling by the Supreme Court against public employee unions which both weakens unions and diminishes their ability to fund Democratic campaigns and candidates. Mary Bottari, the Deputy Director of the Center for Media and Democracy where she has an article “Trump’s Supreme Court Strikes Blow to Government Workers, Good Paying Jobs”, joins us to discuss how a network of right wing front groups funded by billionaires in league with the Federalist Society find plaintiffs like Mark Janus which they use to build a right-to-work case around and fast track it through the courts to further the interests of anti-union plutocrats, all in the name of free speech and the First Amendment.
SCOTUS Hands Trump Absolute Authority Over Immigration
Then finally we look into yesterday’s Supreme Court 5 to 4 ruling upholding Trump’s Muslim ban which will give the president enormous authority to pursue his anti-immigrant policies on the Southern border. Elizabeth Goitein, the co-director of the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice joins us to discuss how the court’s conservative majority refused to consider mountainous evidence of Trump’s racist statements and biased attitudes as they handed him absolute authority over immigration policy.